On-Site Testing: Student Feedback, Questions, and Answers

On-Site Testing: Student Feedback, Questions, and Answers

During the third week since the opening of the on-site testing pods at the Closter campus, we conducted a survey to our student test-takers to see how they felt about on-site testing and their comfort and safety. We had the following goals in mind:

  1. To assess how comfortable students felt inside the testing pods
  2. To pinpoint any additional concerns that we could address immediately
  3. To determine the effectiveness of on-site testing vs. at-home testing

Below are the results of our survey!

On-Site Testing

About Our State-of-the-Art Testing Facility

On October 1st, 2020, we opened our state-of-the-art on-site testing facility at our Closter campus! Since our launch of our virtual classes, we have noticed that the virtually proctored test environment is often not rigorous enough to provide the results that students needed. The mission of the facility is to provide students with a realistic and proctored testing atmosphere in a completely safe environment. 

The Closter testing facility is comprised of 37 individual testing pods, each with its distinct air supply and return ducts. This means that no two students breathe the same air once they are within their testing pods! The air supply and return is powered by a hospital-grade air handling system, complete with UV sanitation lamps installed within the HVAC system. We have completely overhauled our campus design to eliminate any areas of crowding, ensure social distancing, and minimize risks to students.

Read more about our Closter campus and safety measures here!

Student Feedback

Question 1: How comfortable do you feel inside your testing pod?

Most of our students reported feeling either somewhat to very comfortable! Some of the comments that we received were:

  • Very comfortable: “This was perfect, I felt no discomfort, and I had enough space, with doing well social distancing.”
  • Somewhat uncomfortable: “The place is great! I just need to adapt to it.”
 

 

Question 2: How clean/sanitary do you feel that your testing experience was?

A large majority of our students reported very sanitary conditions at our Closter center. Below are some of the comments and concerns we received, as well as our responses to them!

  • Very sanitary: “This place is safe and clean as it could get.”
  • Somewhat sanitary: “There was a little bit of water that I do not know what it was on my chair.”
    • MEK sanitizes each testing pod after every use with a sanitizing fluid, which dries over time. The water that was on your chair was the sanitizing fluid, before it had a chance to dry. Thank you for your feedback!
  • Somewhat sanitary: “Perhaps MEK can place sanitizer inside the booths. This allows students to feel safe and clean before completing the test.”
    • We have installed sanitizing stations throughout the building so students can utilize them before they enter their testing pods. You can also request more sanitizer from the proctor if you feel the need to sanitize your hands during your breaks.
 

 

Question 2: How well were you able to focus on your test during your on-site testing experience?

We’re so glad that most of our students reported focusing somewhat to very well in the on-site testing environment! 

  • Very well: “It was quiet without interruptions.”
  • Somewhat well: “Pretty well, the only comment I have is that the proctors walking around frequently can be distracting at times. But otherwise, the testing environment is very good!”
    • We’re sorry that you were distracted by the proctors! The proctors often need to walk around to guide other students to their testing pods or to sanitize them after the students leave. We will make sure they are more careful when they are doing so!
  • Neutral: “I only struggled a little bit due to being nervous about a new place. I will get used to it.”

 

Overall, the feedback was great! It is true that a new setting takes some getting used to, and our teachers and staff are working tirelessly to help students become more comfortable in the new and sterile environment.

 

 

Question 3: How do you think your on-site testing experience compares to at-home testing?

As with any new development, the testing environment at the Closter campus is something that students will need to get used to in order to feel that it is effective. Fortunately, majority of our students do feel that the on-site testing experience is more effective than at-home testing! Below are some of the comments we received:

  • On-site testing is more effective than at-home testing: “I was and still am amazed how this place is well organized and safe. It is a good place and I hope it stays the same way.”
  • On-site testing is more effective than at-home testing: “I really liked the environment in which I got to take my test. It helped me focus and I felt safe as I was taking it.”
  • On-site testing is similarly effective to at-home testing: “There is nothing. The place is fine–I just need to get used to it.”
 

 

Question 4: Comments, Questions, or Concerns?

Below are some of the comments that our students gave us:

  • How are you so confident that the questions on the MEK tests are similar to the BCA entrance exam?
    • MEK BCA Prep tests and materials are created based on students’ experiences and feedback from the actual test day, accumulated over the past 21 years. Every year, the MEK teaching team collects information from the students’ test day experiences right after the actual test.
  • Since the [BCA] entrance exam is going to be online, why is it important to take the practice test on site, when we are probably going to take the real test at home?
    • The point of the on-site testing environment is not just to mimic the environment of the official test, but rather to yield better and faster results. The skills and confidence accumulated from the rigorous and highly monitored on-site testing experience will be immensely instrumental in creating results and reinforcing skills necessary for the real test.
  • Testing on-site made me feel more focused and comfortable while taking my test than I would have felt taking it at home. I really like the experience and there were minimal distractions. I feel safe when I am here and feel that the necessary sanitary guidelines have been perfectly met.
    • We are so glad that you felt this way! We will work tirelessly to make sure that our testing facility continues to meet and surpass student and parent expectations, and to ensure that it is truly effective for all students.
  • At home, the test takes longer to complete since there are frequently issues with Zoom. However, on site, I don’t feel comfortable removing my mask inside the cubicle so it is a bit harder to take the test.
    • We are sorry that you did not feel comfortable removing your mask inside the testing pod! Each testing pod is sanitized after each use, and the air that is supplied to each one is distinct from the next one. This means that you will never breathe the same air that another student has breathed while you are inside the testing pod. This safety measure is designed to reassure students that they may take off their masks inside the testing pod, as long as they put it back on when they leave it.
  • What is the policy if a COVID-positive student comes to MEK?
    • Upon check-in at the Closter campus, MEK staff perform temperature checks and comprehensive surveys on student health conditions. If a student is feeling COVID-related symptoms or has recently tested positive for COVID-19, we will ask them to go home and self-quarantine. We will follow all CDC guidelines on virus prevention and protection.

But Wait, There’s More!

Starting on November 3rd, 2020, MEK will be opening Phase II of our COVID response: the tutoring suites! The tutoring suites ensure that students receive the in-person learning that they miss while also keeping student and teacher in individual spaces. During the duration of the tutoring session, they are in a bisected tutoring suite, separated by a glass panel to ensure visibility and supported by an intercom system to ensure seamless communication.

Contact us today to learn more about the tutoring suites and to be the first to experience the completely safe, one-on-one tutoring session!

Jaehee Ahn

Jaehee Ahn is MEK Review's Assistant Director of Academic Counseling Services and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. She is also an alumnus of MEK Review's SAT Prep program. If you have any questions about our College Counseling programs or wish to set up a consultation, you can email Jaehee at acs@mekreview.com.

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