When I was an optometry student our NBEO exams were still presented as an old-fashioned paper booklet with scorecard. The testing centers were usually just a conference room of a local hotel where everyone sat in the same room at long tables.
Everyone knows what to expect with paper tests, as I’m sure you’ve all been tested in this fashion more times than you can even count. But what happens during computer-based tests? What are the testing locations like? What must you bring with you and what is already provided for you at the center?
These are all things that you should familiarize yourself with so that you feel more comfortable with the examination procedure that the NBEO now utilizes.
Know exactly what you need to bring, what you cannot bring, and what is provided for you
When you arrive at your designated Pearson VUE testing center to take you NBEO exam, you will be required to show 2 valid forms of personal identification. In order to be considered valid, the ID must match the name used to register for the exam. Both forms must contain your signature and must be current (not expired). At least 1 form must be a government-issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license).
The other ID may be a student ID card, or credit or debit card, as long as it has your name and signature. If you do not present with proper ID, you may be denied admission to the exam.
As for other items, you may not bring any writing instruments into the examination rooms. A noteboard booklet and marker will be provided to you at the testing center that can be used as “scratch paper.” You are also not allowed to bring a calculator with you. An on-screen calculator will be available during your test. Watches are also not permitted in the examination area. Large wall clocks will be located in the exam rooms. No cell phones will be permitted in the examination rooms, as well as any other electronic devices. If you bring items with you that are not permitted in the exam rooms, there will be lockers provided at the Pearson VUE centers that you may use (but at your own risk).
Be familiar with the testing center location and what time you must arrive
Take a practice run to the testing center to make sure you know exactly where it is located, what the parking situation looks like, and how long it will take you to get there. You don’t want to waste time before the test trying to find the center. This can unnecessarily add to your stress and anxiety!
The starting time for your exam may vary depending on the appointment you scheduled with Pearson VUE. It is recommended that you arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment to allow adequate time for check-in procedures. If you arrive more than 15 minutes after your scheduled time you will be denied admission to take the exam.
Know how the testing center is set up
Wondering what the center looks like, the computers you’ll be using, and what the actual testing room you’ll be in looks like? We would encourage you to visit the Pearson VUE website and check out the Pearson Professional Center Online Tour link. There is an online tour that will help you become more familiar with the testing environment you can expect on the day of your exam. There is a gallery of photos that introduce you to the physical layout of the test center as well as the check-in procedures (for example, you’ll be required have a digital photograph and palm vein scan taken at check-in). The more you know, the more comfortable you’ll feel when you arrive!
Know when breaks are scheduled and the procedure for requesting a restroom break
Both Part 1 and Part 2 exams are taken over a single day and are split into a morning and afternoon session. Part 1 candidates have 4 hours to complete each session, while Part 2 test-takers have 3 ½ hours for each session. Morning sessions include an additional 15 minutes devoted to a tutorial and the reading and signing of a non-disclosure agreement. There is an optional break of up to 45 minutes between the morning and afternoon sessions.
You are allowed restroom breaks during the examination, but remember that no additional testing time is allotted if you take a break. If you need a restroom break, raise your hand and a proctor will escort you out of the testing room (additional instructions will be reviewed at the testing center prior to your exam).
Take a tutorial before your testing date
There are tutorials available on the Pearson VUE website that show you how to navigate through the computer-based exam, and give you the opportunity to practice taking a demonstration test. Again, going through a tutorial before you arrive at the center will allow you to make sure you completely understand the format of the test and will help you be more prepared and confident come test day!