NB assessment info.
I drove to the assessment center (Horsham, PA) on a Sunday before my Saturday test date. That was helpful because I was able to determine the proper directions and intersections, and judge both the traffic and time. I also determined which of the buildings on the office campus was the correct one, assessed the parking situation (no problem) and located the front door. I was not able to enter the building because it was locked (Sunday).
My mentor had advised me to eat fish the night before and chocolate the morning of. I ate the fish, skipped the chocolate.
On the day of the assessment, I got up early, ate breakfast, and arrived early, shortly after 7 a.m. I was the second person waiting for the Pearson door to open, which did not happen until 7:30 a.m. We took numbers. We filled out paperwork. We were called to the reception desk and had to show photo ID and our testing confirmation. We were given a key to a locker, which was in the reception area. I was not allowed to take my own tissues; I had to use some provided. I took a sweatshirt into the testing area. I didn’t need it (it was March), but when I inquired I was told that in the warmer weather, the testing room can be quite cold. I was offered earplugs, which I took but did not use and returned unopened when I finished. We had to have a palm scan to enter the test area. I got in before the 8 a.m. published start time, and was able to begin the exam as soon as I was seated, before 8 a.m.
There is a 5 minute period at the beginning of the test during which you are given time to agree to the terms of the testing. Agreeing with the terms immediately does not shorten this 5 minute period. You have to wait out the five minutes.
To prepare for the test I had created study sheets, one page per question of vital information matching the areas of assessment provided in the ECYA instruction booklet. I had asked my mentor to review my initial study notes, and then distilled these one-page study sheets from them. I determined that this information was important no matter what the question asked, and memorized the information on each of the six sheets. I had noted, reviewing the supporting NB assessment web pages, that a former test taker mentioned a technique she called “data dumping” at the beginning of each question. She had quickly typed in all information she deemed pertinent to that question when it appeared, and then went back to fill in and elaborate with the time remaining. It is not necessary to write in complete sentences because you are not scored on sentence structure or spelling, only content.
I started my data dumping prior to the test, in the five minutes available in the initial agreement section, in this way. You are given a large two-sided laminated sheet and a fine line marker when you are seated at your carrel. If you fill your laminated sheet and need to swap it for a clean one (you are allowed only one at a time), or another marker (my point was shot from the get-go) you raise your hand. The woman proctoring was very prompt and provided another marker almost instantaneously. I hand wrote, that is to say “dumped,” my vital info from the six memorized sheets, fitting them onto the one laminated sheet, ready to then type it into the appropriate question when it came up. I relieved my brain of the memorized facts, which I was them able to refer to later during the test. Remember, you are not assessed for what appears on the laminated sheet; it has to be word processed. I just didn’t want to waste those five minutes and was able to clear my brain at the same time!
I took the break when it was provided. Because I had taken in the sweatshirt, I had to take it out with me. I thought that I could refresh my memory with the notes I had in the locker, but was told I did not have access to my locker until the test was over. I RAN down the hall to the restroom. When I came back, I had to take the palm scan again to get into the testing area. I was able to return to my study carrel and resume testing before the end of the15 minute break. Therefore, having gotten in early and taking a very short break, I completed the whole testing experience by about 11:10 a.m. What a relief!!!
I thought that the choices provided to me for Knowledge of Literature were very fair.
In preparation for the testing experience, I had spent at least a week of evenings, maybe more, using the timed test feature from my home computer. The first time I saw that 5-minutes-remaining clock pop up on my screen, I hated it. After just a few times, however, it became my friend. I practiced continually each evening, word processing in the test areas all the information that I had on my six study sheets. My familiarity with the process made the on-line assessments a task to be completed, rather than a tension-filled test.
In all areas of the NB assessments, entries as well as on-line, it is critical to know that a candidate does not start out with 100 points, from which is deducted missing items. Instead, candidates start out at zero and are given points for evidence provided. That is why it is essential to include EVERYTHING in the space and/or time provided.
Be apprised that I applied for accommodations. I received my accommodation approval letter from NB in October 2011. When I called for my on-line assessment appointment with Pearson in January 2012, they did not have the accommodations information from NB. Over the course of a week, including many telephone calls, bad instructions from well-meaning people, an ineffectual fax that I had to word process and leave the house to pay to send, and much frustration, I determined that I would schedule my appointment for myself. Fortunately, it worked out. However, I found the process poorly handled from all providers, making the process more time consuming with hurdles to jump, and therefore discriminatory in its own right toward persons availing themselves of the accommodations feature that NB touts. NB needs to straighten out this process with Pearson. Perhaps as of this writing the process has been righted.
My mentor was Deb Kuhar and she was fabulous!
Good luck to you!
C.W.H.
May 2012