NEW YORK, April 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Standardized exams are, in fact, not so standard in their administration, say students who have recently taken the MCAT and LSAT, the high stakes tests required for admission to medical school and law school. According to the results of a new "Test Site Rater" survey from Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions, the quality of MCAT and LSAT test sites varies dramatically -- a factor that can have an impact on test day performance. "Students may not recognize that where they choose to take their test can affect their test performance - or that they have test site options," said Jeff Olson, Executive Director of Research for Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. "Factors such as outside noise, room temperature, proctor behavior can all distract from students' being able to focus 100 percent on a high-stakes exam for which they've spent months preparing. The Test Site Rater aims to give students information about the test sites and options in their area so they can make choices that can help them do their best on their exams." Olson noted that despite the fact that most students select test sites based on proximity, some survey respondents said that in retrospect, they would sacrifice convenience for quality and a problem-free test experience. Released in time for students planning to take the June LSAT or the August MCAT, (the last paper and pencil MCAT), this year's survey is based on feedback from more than 12,000 LSAT test takers at 372 LSAT testing sites and more than 9,000 MCAT test takers at 323 MCAT sites. The survey asked test takers to rate several key criteria including: desk space, proctors, quiet and comfort and overall experience. Additionally, the survey solicited students' reviews and comment. The rankings only include sites with five reviews or more. Kaplan has been publishing student ratings of test sites since 2002. Factors Impacting Test Day The survey revealed a range of factors both positively and negatively impacting students' testing experience - from size of the group: (at Brown there were too many people and too few bathrooms), to proctor behavior: (Baylor proctors scored student points with bagels at breaks), to environmental factors: (a University of Louisville MCAT student noted that "by lunch the thermostat read 90 degrees, and by the end of the test close to 100"), to site location: (many sites were adjacent to loud, long-scheduled events -- at Indiana University: the little 500; at Michigan State University: Greek Week; at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center: a wedding with a loud DJ and audible speeches; and at Connecticut College: homecoming), to desk and chair options: ("The conditions were ideal! It was spacious, nice chairs and firm desks" - Ave Maria LSAT student). "While the key to test success is preparation, the impact of site-related issues can be substantial. We strongly encourage students to thoroughly research their options before registering for their exams," Olson said. More than 66,000 MCATs and nearly 140,000 LSATs were administered in 2005. The Hot List Rankings are based on total points values earned by a site's scores in four criteria: test proctors, level of quiet and comfort, amount of desk space, and overall site experience. Test takers were asked to assign a score of 1-5 to each of the criteria, then Kaplan calculated an overall score for each site, weighing the overall site experience most heavily (50%), and all other scores equally. Only schools that have 5 or more reviews are rated. The Best Overall The top five MCAT sites, as ranked by Test Site Rater student response, are: 1. University College of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia 2. Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia 3. Baylor University in Waco, Texas 4. AmericasMart in Atlanta, Georgia 5. University of Portland in Portland, Oregon The top 5 LSAT sites, as ranked by Test Site Rater student response, are: 1. Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor, Michigan 2. Western State University College in Fullerton, CA 3. Hope College in Holland, Michigan 4. Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee 5. Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vermont The Worst Overall The lowest ranked MCAT sites (out of 323) are: -- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York (323) -- Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi (322) -- Scottish Rite Center in Oakland, California (321) -- University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky (320) -- Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida (319) The lowest ranked LSAT sites (out of 372) are: -- Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska (372) -- Connecticut College in New London, CT (371) -- Eastfield College in Mesquite, TX (368) -- Tillotson College in Austin, TX (368) -- CUNY Brooklyn Brooklyn, NY (368) Top Ranked Options in Georgia and Michigan; Texas Home to Some of Weakest Sites Two sites in Georgia -- Armstrong Atlantic State in Savannah and AmericasMart in Atlanta -- garnered MCAT student accolades. Michigan, meanwhile, outpaced all others with the number one ranked LSAT site overall (Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor) and the number three ranked LSAT site at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. And though Texas' Baylor University site received high marks from MCAT students, Eastfield College in Mesquite and Tillotson in Austin ranked as two of the worst LSAT sites overall. From A to F for Ivies: Extreme Variation at Ivy League Test Sites According to test takers, test sites at the Ivies are all over the map. MCAT students give Harvard (36) and Princeton (41) rave reviews, focusing on generous desks, even temperatures and excellent proctors, while LSAT students sing the praises of Dartmouth (43) and Columbia's (70) facilities. Cornell, however, gets mixed reviews for MCAT (101) and LSAT (147) with uninformed proctors and marching bands offsetting the benefits of comfortable, new rooms. Perhaps surprisingly, Yale and Brown come in at the bottom of the MCAT and LSAT test site lists with Brown rating 287 for MCAT and 326 for LSAT, and Yale scoring 295 for MCAT and 321 for LSAT. Complaints about both prestigious schools' sites focused on logistical issues, with students at Brown blaming administrative hurdles associated with site overcrowding on a 10+ hour test day. Big 10 Breakdown For MCAT sites, the University of Minnesota (67 out of 323) led the pack, while Purdue (183) lagged behind, primarily due to the DJ, dunk tank and carnival noise coming from SpringFest. A fire alarm, broken air conditioner and marching band doomed University of Michigan to 217th place. Several students at Indiana University (220) said they were planning to have their test voided as their proctor would not permit them to study between breaks (though the test creator does, in fact, allow it.) The remainder of the Big Ten schools that offered MCAT administration came in towards the very bottom of the list due to overcrowding, environmental and administrative issues: Michigan State University (267), University of Iowa (276), University of Wisconsin - Madison (282), Northwestern University (288). For LSAT Big Tens, nearly every school, with the exception of Indiana University (43 out of 372) and the University of Minnesota (95), fell below the 100 mark: Purdue University (191), Michigan State University (204), Northwestern University (209), University of Iowa (234), University of Wisconsin - Madison (249), Ohio State University (288), University of Michigan (308), and Pennsylvania State University (352). Full rankings and reviews can be found at: http://www.kaptest.com/testsiterater . For more information on the Test Site Rater, or to arrange an interview with an expert, please contact Victoria Grantham, firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-453-7538. Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions (http://www.kaptest.com ), a division of Kaplan, Inc., is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions is the world leader in the test prep industry and has served nearly 5 million students in nearly 70 years. With 4,000 classroom locations worldwide, a comprehensive menu of online offerings and a complete array of books and software, and private tutoring options, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 80 standardized tests in the U.S. and the U.K., including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as English language and professional licensing exams. Kaplan also provides college and graduate admissions consulting services, as well as after-school learning programs for K-10 students through its SCORE! centers. Additionally, the division's K12 Learning Services unit is a leading nationwide provider of a broad range of academic intervention and support programs for school districts seeking to meet the demands of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
SOURCE Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions