Our Experiences with the Testing Center (Pearson VUE)
When Mike and I were first preparing for our CPIM certifications, we planned out our study schedule and tentative testing dates right from the start. We gave ourselves 6 weeks per module with the last Friday of that 6 week marked as the exam day. Since Pearson VUE (PV) is licensed to proctor APICS CPIM exams in North America, we began looking for a local center with reasonable testing times. To our delight we found one only a few miles from work with a wide array of testing time windows to suit our schedules. Perfect, now all we had to do was show up and knock these tests out of the park – or so we thought. Knowing what to expect on your first day will make the process go much smoother than it initially did for us.
If you’ve never been to a formal testing center like PV you’re in for a treat. Imagine a library-like environment with a lobby housing a large sound-proof glass window that looks in on a large computer testing room. Locate the person behind the counter and remember to keep your voice low. Mike was scolded a few times for using normal volume, despite the sound-proofed windows. You’ll need two forms of ID, the first needs to have a picture (drivers license, passport, etc), while the second may be a credit card with your signature or something similar. Make sure both are in legible condition to prevent any admission difficulties. PV provides you with a window of time to show up to take the CPIM exam, mostly to account for the rates of different test takers that have been scheduled before you. It’s been our experience that they’ll admit you as soon as you arrive – make sure you’re good to go before being formally admitted to the exam area.
Once they verify your two forms of ID they’ll take your picture and provide you with a locker key. The picture will be stored in their database for APICS as proof that you were there and, I’d imagine, be used to ensure it’s the same person taking all five exams. This same picture will be printed out on your pass/fail report later on. They will ask you to remove all items on your person to be stored in one of their small cubby-lockers. When they say everything, they mean everything. No watch, phone, sunglasses, calculator, water bottle, spare pencils, or even pocket lint are permitted so dig deep and make sure you get everything. The testing center provides you with all the resources you’ll need to take the exam so don’t attempt to smuggle anything inside.
Now that you’ve stored everything and had your picture taken, they’ll ask you to take a seat. This seems more of a formality as the next available proctor will brief you on the testing rules and procedures on how to signal for assistance almost immediately. Once you consent to these rules you’ll be brought into the quiet computer room you’ve been observing from the lobby. You’ll be prompted to sign and date a log showing when you entered the room and which computer you’re to be testing on. This is where you need to be bold, as Mike and I both learned: you don’t want to sit facing that sound-proof window. There will be enough distraction in the actual computer room between fidgeters, coughers, and pen-tappers – you don’t want to add peripheral distractions to the list. Kindly ask to for computer facing a wall; you’ll be glad you did. This is also the ideal time to ask for earplugs as you wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to focus when the person next to you has to habitually clear their throat every two minutes.
When you’ve finished with the test, signal to the proctor that you’ve completed your exam. They’ll ask you to participate in a survey for both the testing center and APICS – both are optional. From there you’ll be escorted back to the lobby where the receptionist is printing your results. This was both my favorite and least favorite part of the entire process. You’re going over the test in your head every second you spend silently anticipating the official results. When the results are done printing, the receptionist will hand over a printout. Sometimes they’ll look at your results and respond accordingly, “congratulations!” or “I’m sorry…” or simply look at the floor as they hand over the results (never a good thing). Ideally, they’ll curl the paper over and simply hand you the results without sneaking a peak. After that you’re free to go! Mike and I usually celebrated the completion of an exam, regardless of the results. After all, learning is a process and failure is only a temporary setback for those with the diligence to push forward. If you don’t pass the first time around, be sure to check out our success strategy that will help you Recover from Failing the CPIM Exam.
- Bring two forms of ID – must be legible and one must contain a photo
- Take as few items into the exam center as possible – you’ll have to stow what you take inside
- Request a computer that faces a wall to reduce visual distraction
- Request earplugs upon entering the exam room – a cough seems 10x louder in a silent room