Testing Center unique to BYU

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    By Rachel Lewis

    BYU students may not be grateful for the Testing Center with finals looming, but some students from other campuses say they wish they had a facility similar to BYU”s Testing Center.

    “I wish we had a testing center so I could take tests when I wanted,” said Utah State University student Brittany Lewis. “It would make my life so much easier because sometimes I have to take three tests on one day because all my teachers decide to test on the exact same day.”

    Few colleges in the country have testing centers similar to BYU”s center that allows students to take tests out of class.

    “Traditionally other testing centers on college campuses do not offer out-of-class testing,” said Bud Wood, Testing Center director. “They typically will do special tests for their counseling centers and administer national tests.

    “There are probably only 10 or 15 that are doing out-of-class testing, and almost all of those are using software by BYU,” Wood said. “We are by far the largest.”

    BYU”s Testing Center hasn”t always offered out-of-class testing either.

    Before 1971, the Testing Center was located within the Counseling Center, and it scored psychological exams and corrected scantrons for teachers who had administered tests in the classroom.

    In 1971, Jim Allen, a history professor, came to Wood and asked if the Testing Center could generate different exams from a test bank of questions.

    “He (Allen) came to me with a shoebox, put it on my desk and said, ”open that,”” Wood said. ” I opened it and there were a bunch of test questions, and he asked if I could write a program to generate a test from all the questions in the shoebox.”

    Wood succeeded in writing a program and began generating tests for Allen”s History 170 class, which is now American Heritage.

    “He (Allen) was happy with that, but then he came back to us and said, ”This is kind of silly. You make up the test, you give it back to me, and I administer it and then give it back to you to grade. Why don”t you just do everything?”” Wood said.

    Wood told Allen there was not room to test students, but Allen told Wood to find room.

    Wood found space in room 110 of the Education building, which is now the Provo City Library.

    More than 28,000 tests were administered for Allen”s history class alone the first year.

    Over the years the Center has grown and included more and more classes, progressing with the development of software and experiments.

    Last year, the Testing Center administered 800,000 tests, and this December alone, Wood predicts around 85,000 tests will be given.

    The Testing Center has changed locations, as well as other changes in the last 30 years, and has created its own legacy at BYU during the process.

    Many students say the Testing Center will leave a lasting impression.

    “Oh, I don”t think you could forget the Testing Center, especially that feeling of fear as you walk there to take a test,” said Michelle Gurr, 19, a student from St. George majoring in history. “I have dreams about going to the Testing Center not prepared. I end up just crying at the desk.”

    For former Utah Attorney General Jan Graham, an incident in the Testing Center came back to haunt her during elections.

    Graham, who attended BYU when women were unable to take tests while wearing jeans, went to the Testing Center in jeans and was denied permission to take a test.

    She contested to no avail, and didn”t want to face winter winds and snow to go home and change.

    She went into the bathroom, took off her pants, buttoned her long coat and went back to take her test.

    The Testing Center employee believed Graham had a skirt on underneath her coat and let her take her test.

    Graham wrote into the Daily Universe afterwards complaining.

    “She said there was something perverse about a dress code that would prohibit a woman wearing blue jeans testing privileges, but permit the same student wearing no pants at all to take a test,” said Wood.

    The Testing Center received nationwide press days afterwards regarding the incident.

    Later, while Jan Graham was running in the Utah State Attorney General election, a reporter asked Graham if rumors that she was the student who took off her pants to take a test were true. She verified the story.

    While most students do not leave BYU with bizarre Testing Center experiences, or even nightmares about the Testing Center, they may take for granted taking a test on their own timetable.

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