Search This Blog

Friday, May 29, 2020

Pandemic Daze: Taking Standardized Tests From Home

So, to get the good news out of the way, I graduated with an MS in speech-language pathology!  I thought about writing a post about graduation during the pandemic, but decided there wasn't all that much to say about it.  My institution canceled the actual graduation ceremony this year, but (a) I think nearly every institution did the same thing, and (b) I wasn't actually planning to attend graduation anyway.  I do feel sorry for people who were looking forward to it, of course, but I don't feel a personal sense of loss for not having it.

Anyway, aside from finding a clinical fellowship, another task awaited me:  the speech-language pathology Praxis exam.  For those who may not know, that's one of the expensive standardized tests that is normally taken at a testing center.  Many of my classmates took it during winter break, to take advantage of time off and having recently prepared for oral comps.  I decided that I would benefit from exposure to the material in my final semester classes, so decided to wait.  At that time, my spring semester internship was scheduled to run through April 15; I planned to take the Praxis after I was done with that.  I'm sure everyone can see where this is going.  My internship ended several weeks early due to the pandemic and testing centers mostly closed.  I started halfheartedly reviewing for the Praxis, but honestly, it was hard to feel motivated when I had no idea when I might be able to take it.

Well, earlier this month, ETS decided to allow people to take many Praxises (Praxi?) at home.  I decided to sign up since I wanted to get it done and had no idea when I might be able to access a testing center.  I took it today, and felt like it actually went pretty smoothly!  There were various security procedures, such as showing my ID and allowing the proctor to take control of my computer to make sure all programs were closed.  I also had to use my webcam to pan around the room and show the proctor the room around me and the (cleared) table I had my computer on.  We also couldn't talk or have anyone enter the room while we were testing.  Scott had to run a rare outside errand this morning, and we agreed that I'd text him when I was done.  I was concerned about Stella waking up from her nap and coming into the room and meowing loudly (or worse--jumping on the table and trying to walk across my keyboard), but fortunately that didn't happen.  It occurred to me as I was working on the test that I probably should have just blocked off a section of the apartment to keep her from interfering, so I'll just leave that as a tip for other pet owners who may need to take a Praxis from home.

The only thing I didn't like is that I didn't really know what to expect on testing day.  So, for anyone else who might need to do this, it's pretty easy.  You have to sign in to the Proctor-U account that you created when you scheduled your test.  There will be a countdown showing how much time you have before the test is scheduled to begin.  Then you be allowed to start.  You'll be connected to a proctor who will walk you through everything you need to do.  The proctor will then log on to the ETS browser you had to download to take the test and let you get started.  It was pretty seamless after that.  I know a proctor was watching me virtually from afar, but since I never saw them, it wasn't a distraction.

I won't feel officially out of the woods until I get my official score report, but the score I was given at the end appears to be a comfortably passing one, and if there were any problems, I wasn't aware of them.  I don't know how long people will be allowed to take standardized tests at home; maybe if it works well enough it will continue, but this also might become an experience emblematic of these unusual times.