Just over three years ago, the University of Maine at Presque Isle held a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for its brand new Prometric Testing Center. In the years since, the center – located on the ground floor of South Hall – has provided a convenient and close-to-home option for the people of Aroostook County to complete their computer-based licensure exams and certifications.
"People don't have to drive to Portland or Bangor anymore to take these tests," John Harrington, Prometric Test Center Administrator, said, citing a major reason why the testing center has proved so popular since its opening in 2009. "I also have people coming in to test from all of the Maritime Provinces, and people from central Maine who couldn't get a seat for a specialty test exam close to home."
The University has a contract with Prometric – the leading global provider in testing services – for a five-seat testing site on campus. Some of the tests offered at the facility include the Praxis, which students are required to take in order to become certified as teachers; the MCAT, LSAT and GRE, which generally are required for admittance to graduate programs; and licensure exams for those in a wide range of career fields, including healthcare, veterinary medicine, accounting, investment management, construction work and law enforcement.
If UMPI's Prometric facility didn't exist, the next closest testing centers would be more than 150 miles away – there are centers in Bangor, Portland, and Halifax. This makes the UMPI center especially convenient for residents of northern Maine, New Brunswick and Quebec.
"The greatest response I see is relief that this is something that can be done so much more conveniently and close to home," Harrington said. "People really seem to appreciate the convenience, time savings, and cost savings. Just going to Bangor to take that test, you're talking about six hours of driving. The exam can range from one hour to 16 hours (a two-day test). And when you make an appointment, you have to make all kinds of arrangements. You have to make sure the seat available is 'long enough' for the block openings at the testing site."
Most people who utilize UMPI's Prometric Testing Center travel from within Maine, or from the Maritimes, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts, but as Harrington pointed out, the center frequently sees testers from much further afield scheduling tests at UMPI because there are only a certain number of seats available at each testing site for specific specialty exams, and they are willing to travel great distances in order to take these important tests.
UMPI's testing center really plays an important role when it comes to "windowed" exam. These exams require test-takers to complete their tests between two specific dates: "Especially when a person isn't able to find a location nearby within their testing window, they have to look for the next closest site, and sometimes the next closest site can be pretty far away," Harrington explained.
Harrington said he's seen many people who fly in from away, from areas like the Midwest and from southern states, when they can't find seats for specialty exams.
Harrington said he gives between 40 and 60 exams each month. They range from short to long appointments, and include testing on everything from teacher certification to professional and licensing certifications, as well as testing for admittance to graduate school.
Who does the Prometric Testing Center benefit? Harrington said that local employees who need to take exams to maintain certifications for their jobs are high on the list.
"Where, before, you'd have to take two days of work off for your test, now you can just take your lunch hour," he said. "That's the real advantage of this testing center."
UMPI's Prometric Testing Center is a controlled, secure, and confidential testing center providing academic and professional testing for everyone. UMPI's center tests children as young as second grade to people who have been in their careers for 50 years or more.
Prometric, a wholly-owned subsidiary of ETS, is the recognized global leader in technology-enabled testing and assessment services and the winner of CLO Magazine's Learning in Practice 2007 Customer Service Award. According to its website, its comprehensive suite of services, including test development, test delivery and data management capabilities, allows clients to develop and launch global testing programs as well as accurately measure program results and data. Prometric reliably delivers and administers more than nine million tests a year on behalf of 450 clients in the academic, professional, healthcare, government, corporate and information technology markets. It delivers tests flexibly via the Web or by utilizing a robust network of more than 10,000 test centers in 163 countries. For more information, please visit www.prometric.com.