MCAT, LSAT testing sites affect results

Source: Collegiate Presswire

New York, NY – Standardized exams are, in fact, not so standard in their administration, say students who have recently taken the MCAT and LSAT, the high stakes tests required for admission to medical school and law school.

According to the results of a new “Test Site Rater” survey from Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, the quality of MCAT and LSAT test sites varies dramatically – a factor that can have an impact on test day performance.

“Students may not recognize that where they choose to take their test can affect their test performance – or that they have test site options,” said Jeff Olson, executive director of research for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions.  “Factors such as outside noise, room temperature and proctor behavior can all distract from students’ ability to focus 100 percent on a high-stakes exam for which they’ve spent months preparing.  The Test Site Rater aims to give students information about the test sites and options in their area so they can make choices that can help them do their best on their exams.”    

Olson noted that despite the fact that most students select test sites based on proximity, some survey respondents said that in retrospect, they would sacrifice convenience for quality and a problem-free test experience.  

Released in time for students planning to take the June LSAT or the August MCAT, (the last paper and pencil MCAT), this year’s survey is based on feedback from more than 12,000 LSAT test takers at 372 LSAT testing sites and more than 9,000 MCAT test takers at 323 MCAT sites.  

The survey asked test takers to rate several key criteria including: desk space, proctors, quiet, comfort and overall experience.  

Additionally, the survey solicited students’ reviews and comments.  The rankings only include sites with five reviews or more.  Kaplan has been publishing student ratings of test sites since 2002.

Factors Impacting Test Day

The survey revealed a range of factors both positively and negatively impacting students’ testing experience, from size of the group (at Brown there were too many people and too few bathrooms), to proctor behavior (Baylor proctors scored student points with bagels at breaks), to environmental factors (a University of Louisville MCAT student noted that “by lunch the thermostat read 90 degrees, and by the end of the test close to 100”), to site location (many sites were adjacent to loud, long-scheduled events – at Michigan State University, Greek Week; at Connecticut College, homecoming), to desk and chair options (“The conditions were ideal! It was spacious, nice chairs and firm desks,” said an Ave Maria LSAT student).

“While the key to test success is preparation, the impact of site-related issues can be substantial. We strongly encourage students to thoroughly research their options before registering for their exams,” Olson said.

More than 66,000 MCATs and nearly 140,000 LSATs were administered nationwide in 2005.

The Hot List Rankings are based on total points values earned by a site’s scores in four criteria: test proctors, level of quiet and comfort, amount of desk space and overall site experience.

Test takers were asked to assign a score of one to five to each of the criteria, then Kaplan calculated an overall score for each site, weighing the overall testing site experience most heavily (50 percent), and all other scores equally.