In late March, testing and assessment services provider Thomson Prometric launched its flagship environmentally friendly “test center of the future” in Baltimore.
The center is more than 3,000 square feet, and it will host tests ranging from academic to professional to IT-related.
It is designed with maximum efficiency in mind, making use of smaller PCs and flat-screen monitors, which lowers the energy requirement of the test center, cutting use of electricity, air conditioning and heating by up to 40 percent.
The center also features test room furniture that can adjust to add more seats with minimal downtime and expense. Instead of renting more space, building more walls, buying more cubicles and closing a test center while additional seats are added, capacity can be added by using flexible, movable side screens and small-form workstation computers. Most changes can be made by on-site staff in less than 24 hours.
“It has a flexible design in terms of the ability to expand and contract the number of test seats in a given footprint, which is going to change the need for taking on additional construction,” said Michael Brannick, Thomson Prometric CEO.
He also said this is an important component in “green” building design.
The center features kiosks that allow candidates to schedule tests, as well as research accreditation and licensure requirements. It also houses a separate room with a one-way viewing window into the proctor and test rooms, which allows clients to observe the testing process while maintaining anonymity.
Additionally, the center has a beta lab, where clients can test their own exam content in a real-world environment.
The center is accessed by district staff and has a waiting area and locker room.
“It’s all designed to help candidates come into the test center,” Brannick said. “Oftentimes, it’s a stressful situation, with high stakes associated with it, so we’re trying to do everything we can to make it as predictable a process as possible.”
Thomson Prometric originally was inspired to design the center as a result of its hosting testing and certification for the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit dedicated to sustainable building design and construction. The center was in development for six months, and it needed to be fully functional at launch.
“It had to be operational as a test center because we’re closing other facilities in the region and moving those tests into here, so it had to be beta tested to make sure all of our ongoing clients’ needs could be met by this test center,” Brannick said.
Already, 100 candidates have been tested or processed through the center. Brannick said candidates’ reactions could not be gauged as negative or positive.
“Generally, I’m not looking for a positive reaction — I’m looking for the same reaction,” he said. “As a test center goes, we want candidates to experience the test the same way, regardless of which test center they’re taking it in.”
Rather, the center’s advantages are more centered on the experience of Thomson Prometric and its clients.
“Our ability to manage it as a facility is enhanced and the non-testing-related services that we provide to clients — like test publishing support and the opportunity for them to test certain ideas they would have in changing their own individual tests — will be enhanced by using this as a laboratory,” Brannick said.
Thomson Prometric expects more of its test centers around the world will be similarly redesigned as the company evaluates the success of its first “green” test center.