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Prometric employee answering questions

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by PrometricAnon, Sep 28, 2014.

  1. PrometricAnon


    Sep 28, 2014
    Hello everyone, I stumbled across this forum and thought that you all might like to talk with an actual Prometric employee about specific testing questions and Prometric policies especially with the Oct 21, 2014 deadline fast approaching.

    I'll answer basic questions about how we do business and requirements that are up-to-date with the client requirements from AAMC2.
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  3. Jumb0

    Jumb0 5+ Year Member

    Aug 24, 2012
    Hi Anon.

    I will be taking my MCAT on October 25th at my local Prometric site.
    I have a few questions:

    1) What is the screen size I can expect to take my exam on?
    2) Is it true that you allow test-takers to jot down formulas during the 10 minute tutorial period?
    3) Can I wear ear-plugs ?
  4. PrometricAnon


    Sep 28, 2014

    I'm not used to this forum so I apologize if there are any formatting issues. To answer your questions:

    1. I believe all Prometric computers display at 1024x768. It's a square, flat screen monitor. All questions will be answered on the computer, anything you write on the scratch paper is destroyed via shredding at the center.
    2. Yes, as soon as you are sat down and the test is launched you can begin writing on the scratch paper provided.
    3. Yes you may wear ear plugs. Every desk should have a headset to block out noise, and you should be able to request ear plugs at the check in desk (though due to changes in management, we were unable to order ear plugs as part of our standard office supplies for some time, meaning some testing locations may still be out of stock of ear plugs). You may bring your own so long as they do not have ANY wires/strings which attach themselves to each other. If they do have strings you will be asked to cut them/may not be allowed to use them. This varies based on the site depending on what the Test Center Manager decides. It is best to contact/visit your specific testing center to determine how the Manager of the site interprets the official rules.
  5. 040111333

    040111333 Banned Banned 2+ Year Member

    Apr 23, 2013
    Hi, thanks so much for this! I've heard many students complaining about technical difficulties…their computer breaks down or freezes and they have to wait until Prometric staff (some who don't know the first thing about fixing the computer) tries to resolve the issue. In this case, the student may lose up to 15 min or more on their timed MCAT exam but will still be expected to finish the test without any extra time. How is this fair? And how does Prometric deal with such issues? Are these computer problems frequent?
  6. PrometricAnon


    Sep 28, 2014
    Yes computer difficulties can occur, and Prometric employees are NOT trained IT specialists. During our training we are told that if any technical issue occurs we need to shut down the testing station and contact "Global Help Desk" (GHD) which is our IT service and they can fix technical issues. The TCA at your site should immediately turn off your computer if any technical issue occurs during the test and contact the GHD. When your computer is turned off, all answers you have entered are saved, and the time stops running. It is very important that you notify the TCA immediately of any technical issues because we do not get alerts at our computers while proctoring exams. If you encounter any issues during the test please come to us, or raise your hand in the testing room. The sooner we are alerted of the issue the faster we can respond to it.

    From my observations these computer failures are very rare, I have personally never seen any technical issues occur during MCAT testing. If there are any problems during your testing experience with us at Prometric I encourage you to contact "Candidate Care" (https://www.prometric.com/en-us/contact-us/Pages/default.aspx) with specific details about your complaints and questions.
  7. John Buster

    John Buster 2+ Year Member

    Sep 2, 2014
    Thanks for the AMA.

    Are you guys okay with test-takers visiting the testing center if they don't have a test scheduled just to check it out? If so, do you guys provide mini tours of the center?
  8. PrometricAnon


    Sep 28, 2014
    Yes it is fine to visit the testing center if you don't have an appointment. I actually really encourage you all to visit the test center you are planning to test at not only so that you know what the traffic is going to be like but also so that you can ask about specific policies at the testing center. As far as "mini tours", we are kind of limited in to what we can show you. Unless you are actually signed up for a test we can't let you into the testing room, but you can explore the lobby, see the locker size (I'm not sure if there is a specific requirement on a company level about the size of lockers, ours are pretty small, about a foot cubed.) and just see what parking is like.

    Prometric as a company is also starting to push getting everyone started within the a very narrow window. Basically no more or less than 30 minutes from your scheduled appointment time. So when you arrive you may hear the employees talking about "Pre-check-ins", where we basically take all of your biometrics, picture, and explain the test rules. IMO it seems like it forces the employees to really rush everything and seems stressful for you guys, but it's something Prometric is forcing us to do. If you don't feel comfortable with it please let us know, we can have you opt out and then preform your check-in like normal.
  9. texan2414

    texan2414 2+ Year Member

    Jul 24, 2013
    Thank you for your time in answering these questions,

    My last MCAT I was seated quite close to the door and before entering I asked the proctor if I would be allowed to get a better "away-from-the-door" seat but was denied because I was in the automated sign in system.
    Is it possible to make a request to be seated away from the door BEFORE the biometrics and the sign in or are seats specifically assigned the moment we pay for them on the AAMC registration page?

  10. PrometricAnon


    Sep 28, 2014
    The proctor lied to you (sort of). When we get our daily rosters on the computers, people are assigned seats, but TCAs have the ability to launch your exam on any computer in the testing lab. You're more than welcome to state your seating preferences, but it needs to be done, like you said, BEFORE you enter the lab. Ideally you should mention it right when you sit down and start talking with your proctor. If you wait until you enter the testing room it becomes much more difficult to reassign seats. Like I said, TCAs are not trained "IT guys" so I don't know the exact reason why, but the MCAT test program is really annoying to work with after it has been launched. Basically, the proctor could have reseated you, but it would have taken several minutes and then there is always the possibility of encountering bigger technical problems when doing this.

    If you do go through a "pre-check-in", we assign seats during that process so just be sure to mention that you would like a seat away from the door (or even close to the door to get out of the lab faster for breaks).

    Now that I've said that, I would urge you to contact your specific testing site about whether they allow you to pick your seat. As far as I know all sites should be open to catering to your seating preferences, but every site has a manager who may be more strict. AAMC has a specific set of practices we need to adhere to, and they are a pretty big client of Prometric. They preform audits of us over the cameras and microphones at the center which can cost people their jobs, so some managers may be a little more hesitant (I hope I'm explaining this in a coherent way) when it comes to the rules. If it doesn't seem like the site will allow you to pick a seat, contact AAMC. They can send out memos to specific sites to clarify how they want us to handle issues like this.
  11. texan2414

    texan2414 2+ Year Member

    Jul 24, 2013
    Thank you for your thorough response.
  12. DoctorInASaree


    Jun 5, 2014
    Thank you so much for your informative posts!

    Two questions
    A) Would it be prudent to call in advance; if one were to visit the test-taking site (on a non-exam date)?

    B) Are there any clothing restrictions? I would like to wear a saree.

    To the rest of you: if you see a girl in a saree at your testing center; say hi - it's most likely me! :D
  13. Nevets

    Nevets 2+ Year Member

    Sep 22, 2014
    When I took my exam half the screen was cut off during the tutorial and my mouse scroll didn't work. Is this normal?
  14. adr2be

    adr2be 2+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2013
    Hey there,

    Thanks for doing this.

    I have some allergies that may require me to use an inhaler in some situations, and I have heard that in order to have any medical accommodations there will be a mark beside my MCAT score saying that I received "aid" (or took the test under special circumstances). Is that true? Because my allergies isn't that severe, but it's always better to be safe than sorry!

    And if it isn't, what can I do so that I can have access to my inhaler?

  15. PrometricAnon


    Sep 28, 2014
    Hey guys trying to stay on top of questions. Had to do some homework.

    A: If you want to call ahead that's fine, but not necessary. We have several "rushes" during the day where we process a lot of people. These typically occur around 8am, 12pm, and occasionally 5pm depending how late the center is open that day. During these times the TCAs will be very busy and not able to really answer many questions. It's best to visit the test centers in between these times. And of course calling to see when it would be a good time to visit is always fine. Our job is basically staring at a monitor 99% of the time so calls are a nice break.

    B: Glad you brought up clothing restrictions. Officially, there are only aren't many. Don't show up naked, of course. Sarees are fine, we encounter them often. I've checked in women in full Burqas (which are fine so long as a TCA can observe the woman's face to confirm identity). The big thing are pockets. Prometric prides itself on their pocket policy, where you have to pull out your front pockets completely (though only if it is physically possible). This occurs every time you return to the lab and sign in on our rosters. I really urge people to plan outfits with minimal pockets. Yoga pants or running shorts are excellent, if you show up in cargo pants with 10+ pockets we are required to watch you check every pocket, which can eat up break time. If you take anything from this AMA please, please don't wear cargo pants.

    I'd like to touch on jackets/hoodies/sweaters for a minute. We have a pretty strict rule about not removing them in the testing center. We are told to keep the temperature in the testing rooms between 70F and 74F, so it's always a good idea to plan to bring a light sweater you can grab or remove during breaks. And again with the pockets thing, we have to check every single pocket on the coat so just keep that in mind when choosing one.

    This is extremely abnormal. Did you inform the TCA of the event?

    AAMC tells us that if you want to have your inhaler at your testing desk, you must apply for specific testing accommodations which specify that you are allowed to have it at the desk. However, you are free to leave your inhaler at the admin station (The desk where the TCA sits and collects your picture/biometrics). If you choose this route you do not need to apply for testing accommodations through AAMC, and in this case you may wish to be seated near the door to the testing room to minimize the time it takes for you to get up and come out and use the inhaler. If you leave it on the admin station you will not have to sign out or be wanded with the metal detector.
    DoctorInASaree and blackmarble like this.
  16. Nevets

    Nevets 2+ Year Member

    Sep 22, 2014
    I did. They told me not to worry about the screen because it would go away during the actual test, which it did. Though the resolution seemed much lower than that which you quoted above. Each passage had massive amounts of scrolling and I had to click-scroll the rest of the test. The center said there was nothing they could do about it. It was really distracting, broke immersion, and wasted time. Just thought I'd let you know in case you want to pass along the comment to your superiors. I honestly think that kind of discrepancy can lead to a serious disadvantage... I mean think about the verbal section, having to move your eyes every few lines to click-scroll rather than simply using the scroll wheel to read the passage as a coherent whole.
  17. blackmarble


    Aug 20, 2013
    Same here- scroll didn't work and it was super annoying. Not sure whether it was specific to my computer.
  18. csx

    csx 2+ Year Member

    May 8, 2013
    What is this 0ct 21st deadline you speak of?? Ive never heard of this.
  19. benjaminl1nus

    benjaminl1nus Probationary Status 5+ Year Member

    May 12, 2011
    I think he/she is referring to the next testing date
  20. texan2414

    texan2414 2+ Year Member

    Jul 24, 2013
    If you read MCAT essentials, I believe it states that scroll on the actual exam won't work.
  21. justadream

    justadream 5+ Year Member

    Apr 29, 2011
    Lol I happened to be wearing pants with like 10+ pockets. Don't do that.
    Cawolf and csx like this.
  22. Mud Duck

    Mud Duck

    Oct 2, 2014
    My cousin planned on taking the MCAT but had a change of plans and will be cancelling. I'm also registered to take the MCAT but wasn't able to get a location in our state:sorry:. He would like to be able to cancel his spot in such a way that I could reschedule and get his place. Do you know of a way to do this :shrug:or have any suggestions? I'd really appreciate your help.:help:
    Thanks for taking the time to help all of us through this stressful & sometimes confusing process.:bow:
  23. ddmbmom

    ddmbmom 2+ Year Member

    Mar 3, 2013
    My screen froze twice during my test and I had to wait 10 minutes each time for the employee to get help from the place he called. What I am really concerned about is the additional trial questions did not appear at the end of my test. The screen just went blank. The employee said he was not familiar with the mcat and told me to b done...I bet I should have insisted he call that help line again??
  24. lostnconfused

    lostnconfused 5+ Year Member

    Sep 18, 2011
    Hi! If you are still taking questions, do you know how many pieces of scratch paper is allowed per section?
  25. swiftaspirations

    swiftaspirations 2+ Year Member

    Mar 10, 2014
    At the prometric testing center where I took the MCAT, the test room had an old, squeaky door that was opened and slammed every couple of minutes. It was extremely aggravating to have to battle this noise throughout the exam. How do I go about reporting this issue?
  26. Aerus

    Aerus Elemental Alchemist 5+ Year Member

    Apr 20, 2012
    hSDN Member
    hSDN Alumni
    You will get a booklet of scratch paper. This can be substituted at any time, although I recommend you wait until the break to do so!
  27. Aerus

    Aerus Elemental Alchemist 5+ Year Member

    Apr 20, 2012
    hSDN Member
    hSDN Alumni
    The scroll does not work for the right side (question side) of the exam. It does work for the left side (passage side) of the exam.
  28. Nevets

    Nevets 2+ Year Member

    Sep 22, 2014
    It did not work for the left side for me.
  29. S.Smiles


    Dec 5, 2014
    Do the foam earplugs I bring with me to wear during my exam have to be in a brand new unopened package?
    I've heard varying answers and the ones I use come in packs of 8 or more which makes it inconvenient to bring. Also it seems like bringing a printed package into the test room would conflict with security.
    Thanks so much for your help and understanding how paranoid we can get with so much riding on these exams.

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