Here we are in the Second Summer of COVID and while vaccination numbers are encouraging, obviously there are still some hiccups to work out as we make the slow but steady slog back to whatever version of “normal” exists now. It’s encouraging, but as with anything we should temper our expectations and do our best to be prepared for anything. Personally I’m still thinking alien invasion is on the table but who knows.
One such hiccup (or maybe raging GERD is more appropriate here to describe the events of the past 14 months) is the ongoing effort of Prometric to accommodate as many test-takers as possible while maintaining appropriate social distancing and sanitation procedures. These accommodations can vary by location, and a lot of it has to do with whether or not Rona is a currently pressing issue in said location. Here’s a little bit more on the behind-the-scenes on Prometric site status that may affect your ability to get a spot at the testing center and time you prefer, something you should keep in mind before you start raging about the next bit I’m about to tell you. From Prometric’s FAQ:
The protection of our employees and test takers continues to be our number one priority during COVID-19. In addition to recommendations from the CDC and WHO, Prometric has worked with third-party experts, including leading infectious disease and epidemiology experts from Johns Hopkins University, who visited our test centers, evaluated our entire test taker journey, and worked with us to develop and introduce operational policies, training procedures, and test taker protocols to help ensure a streamlined, safe testing experience at all of our centers.
These safety practices have been enacted throughout the testing process, but still must remain in compliance with local government mandates. As such, test centers on our site status list labeled as being enabled for either “Full Occupancy” or “Limited Occupancy” refers to the number of testing seats available at a specific center, based on local requirements. For program availability, test centers labeled “All Programs” means test takers from any program can test there. “Essential Only” is only applicable for test centers in the US where the local government has approved only certain exams to be delivered. The link for up-to-date essential tests programs can be found at [this PDF].
As always, you can check site status on Prometric’s website here. Although status isn’t changing as quickly as it was nearly a year ago when Prometric reopened for essential test-takers, it’s never a bad idea to check anyway as anything from a gas leak to a power outage can take one out at any time. Sorry, anxious people, I shouldn’t have brought that up. According to Prometric, as of this moment they have “resumed operations in more than 90% of our global test center network,” so there’s some consolation.
Alright so on to the important bit. We’re starting to hear rumblings of exam candidates having trouble getting dates in June and July, and in fact there were complaints as far back as December about not being able to secure a date in June. There may have been complaints prior to that but honestly I didn’t bother to scour every single corner of the Internet to find them, there are only so many hours in a day. Point is, when multiple people start saying they’re having trouble getting dates, that sometimes means there could be a potential issue. It could also be nothing but coincidence, or perhaps a bit of both.
The reason we’re mentioning this at all is because some of you might feel a little too comfortable with the pace of the return to normal, and might mistakenly believe that infection numbers decreasing and restrictions easing means it’s business as usual. You might have no trouble at all getting the date you want. Then again, you might not. Remember that the Spring 2020 system-wide closure of Prometric testing centers across the United States affected not only all of you but also countless other students and future professionals whose licensing boards also use Prometric for testing. See above re: hiccups, the backup caused by an unprecedented nationwide closure like that shouldn’t be discounted just because things are starting to resemble the halcyon days of pre-2020.
Our advice? Secure the date(s) you want long before the actual date. Genius suggestion, I know. Basically the entire rest of this year should be treated like you’d treat the 4th quarter of any other year; in other words, assume that the dates and/or locations you really want will get snapped up quick and try to be flexible. I assure you there will come a time — hopefully in the not-so-distant future — when you won’t have to worry about this stuff and can schedule your exams at the last possible minute like the good old days. Until then, don’t be surprised if you run into some difficulties, try not to let it derail you from the ultimate goal of beating the beast and moving on with your life.
If you’ve had trouble scheduling your exam, have been notified of a cancellation for a summer exam, or just want to complain about how noteboards are far inferior to the scratch paper you used to get at the testing center, feel free to reach out and let us know. Good luck!
Oh and p.s., masks are still required at testing centers. Yes, even for the vaccinated.