The CHES® and MCHES® certification exams are administered twice a year by a global organization, known as Prometric, which specializes in administering a computer-based secure and uniform testing process. Up until 2020, the only option for testing was to travel to a specific Prometric brick-and-mortar test center location. Once the COVID-19 pandemic entered the picture, NCHEC saw the need for providing a safe alternative to test from the comfort of home, and Live Remote Proctoring became an additional option for candidates. Now that there are two distinct options for taking the CHES® or MCHES® exam, which will be the best choice for you? First, let us look at the differences between the two options, or testing modalities.
Brick-and-mortar Test Centers
Prometric offers hundreds of locations across the United States, as well as many international locations. Test centers offer a controlled environment staffed by knowledgeable administrators who can guide your through the test process, including a secure check-in, and address any issues that arise during the test itself. Upon completion of your exam, you will receive an email notification regarding your preliminary pass/fail status (CHES® only; MCHES® pass/fail sent through USPS).
Live Remote Proctoring
Live Remote Proctoring (LRP) through Prometric's remote assessment platform, known as ProProctor, gives candidates 24/7 access, allowing them to test from home with an internet enabled location, where they must provide a computer with a camera, microphone, and an internet connection. It is an easy to use platform, and allows the same standard security procedures as implemented in Prometric's global test center network. ProProctor is both Windows and MacOS compatible. The ‘live’ part means that you will have a real-time person who watches you during the entire exam process, which is important in providing a valid and secure exam that is equal to the brick-and-mortar version. LRP also allows for CHES® candidates to receive a pass/fail preliminary email notification soon after completing the exam and exiting the platform.
Pros of brick-and-mortar test centers
- An in-person experience – with an in-the-flesh administrator to guide you through your exam process
- All equipment is provided by the center, and is sanitized per CDC guidelines
- Quiet and climate controlled, noise cancelling headphones are available
- Less chance for technology issues during the exam
- Many varying testing accommodations are available
Cons of brick-and-mortar test centers
- Less exam time slots due to social distancing requirements
- Regular hours of operation (in some cases no evenings or Sundays)
- You must include travel time and traffic considerations
- Possibility of test center closures or rescheduling needs (although this is rare)
- You must wear a mask at all times in the test center
Pros of Live Remote Proctoring
- Test from your own home on your own equipment
- Pick a time slot that works for you – 24/7 testing capabilities
- No travel time
- No possibility of COVID (or other germ) exposure; no need to wear a mask
- Your own individual proctor assigned to your time slot
Cons of Live Remote Proctoring
- You must meet specific technology requirements, including specific operating systems, screen resolutions and internet speeds
- You must have an isolated room with zero interruptions, or your test may be terminated
- You must set up your environment specifically to meet security protocols
- You run the risk of losing your internet connection during the exam, depending on the strength of your personal internet provider
- It may be difficult to utilize specific testing accommodations depending on your circumstance/need
Which Modality is Right for Me?
It really depends on your unique personality! Have you taken a test through a brick-and-mortar center before? Did you hate it or like it? How high is your test anxiety level? Live Remote Proctoring may seem like the answer for those with anxiety, but if you encounter technological difficulties during an LRP exam, that anxiety can skyrocket, effecting your mental acuity. However, the convenience factor of testing at home can be amazing, not to mention the safety factor during the pandemic.
Some have felt that LRP feels invasive, because someone is staring at you through your camera at every moment. Yet, know that in brick-and-mortar facilities, you are being recorded every second, although you might not notice. The reason behind the high levels of security protocols for BOTH modalities is to protect the exam content and validity, and NOT to make you feel like a suspect. It is simply standard and effective administration of a national certification exam. It is what needs to happen to provide you with a quality and accredited credential.
Both Prometric and NCHEC staff are also available to assist you through the process, and help you with any technical difficulties you might encounter. Always let us know as soon as possible if there is a problem. We will always do our best to assist you, and to help you through the process to become a nationally certified health education specialist!