UCSD facilities fail Kaplan survey

    Kaplan Test Prep announced on Jan. 21 that UCSD was amongst the five-worst locations in the country for students to take the August sitting of the MCAT.

    The ratings are published in Kaplan’s “”2002 Test Site Rater,”” which rated 192 MCAT testing sites by 2,124 Kaplan MCAT students.

    Each student rated the proctors, the comfort and the quietness of the room, and rated the overall experience on a five-point scale to determine a nationwide ranking of each of the schools. UCSD ranked 189 out of 192, making it one of the lowest-rated testing facilities in the country. UC Berkeley ranked one place higher at 188.

    “”Most schools, you get a desk and plenty of room,”” said senior Steve Reis, who took the MCAT at UCSD. “”But we took the test in Peterson, where there isn’t even enough room for all your papers and your calculator. For a school that prides itself on its science program, it’s absurd that UCSD hasn’t taken every possible step it can to make sure our chances of getting into med school aren’t higher.””

    Others have complained that the facilities are inadequate due to the outside distractions of taking the test in a very public building on campus.

    “”Peterson Hall was horrible,”” said senior Marit Kriedel, who also took the MCAT on campus. “”You could hear people talking outside and the desks were all cramped. I can’t believe that San Diego State gives their students each a table and we only got a ridiculous desk for an eight-hour exam. What a joke.””

    Executive Director of Kaplan Test Prep Justin Serrano feels that many of the problems with the testing facilities can easily be remedied with the help of the university supplying smaller and quieter rooms on campus.

    “”With smaller rooms, a lot of these problems would go away,”” he said. “”Although having more classrooms would require more proctors, it is always available.””

    However, student complaints were not held solely to the testing site itself. Other students felt that the inadequate and unprofessional manner of the proctors largely contributed to UCSD’s poor ranking.

    “”We started much too late; an extra test was passed out and blamed on a student who had two as if it were her fault,”” said a student who filed a complaint against the UCSD testing facility with Kaplan. “”They had to recount the exams and I believe caused a lot of anxiety in test-takers. The proctors who re-passed out the exams repeatedly passed them out in the wrong direction, giving people the wrong test.

    “”They left the room numerous times during the test, allowing the door to slam shut. Students also left and came during the test, which I think, when you are sitting in rows and have to move to allow a student to pass by, is ridiculous. It was not an enjoyable experience.””

    UCSD received a total ranking of 2.68, with a 2.9 rating for the proctors, a 2.8 rating for the quiet and comfort factor of the room, and a 2.6 for overall experience, according to the Kaplan test site. In addition, only 40 percent of students surveyed believed they had enough room to take the test comfortably.

    Serrano said that these outside distractions could have had an adverse effect on those taking the MCAT.

    “”If you were to take the MCAT in a crowded room with a lot of noise, it may or may not affect your score,”” Serrano said. “”But it certainly will affect your anxiety level.””

    UCSD’s poor ranking is particularly problematic according to Serrano as performing well on these standardized tests is very important because admission into medical and law schools is becoming more selective due to the decreased job market and more people deciding to stay in school.

    Joining UCSD and UC Berkeley in the bottom tier of MCAT testing facilities are the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn.; the University of Colorado at Boulder in Boulder, Colo.; and Nassau Community College in Garden City, N.Y.

    The top ranking schools for this sitting of the MCAT were La Salle University in Philadelphia.; University of Dallas in Irving, Texas; and Wellesley College in Wellesley, Mass.

    UCSD students who have recently taken the LSAT have also complained about the testing facilities in San Diego County. Because UCSD does not offer the test on its grounds, law school-bound students are told to take the test at two of the closer alternatives: California State University San Marcos and San Diego State University.

    However, these schools have presented their own problems for some law school-bound UCSD students.

    “”The rooms were way beyond crowded,”” said senior Chris Puevrelle, who took the LSAT at San Diego State University. “”There were noises left and right, there was a constant sound of dripping water, and the proctor pulled the alarm by mistake, which completely ruined my concentration.””

    Puevrelle said that the better facilities at San Marcos, although far away, dramatically helped him perform better on the LSAT the second time he took the test.

    Moreover, California Western School of Law in San Diego was tied for fifth out of 261 schools in rankings for the October LSAT.

    For those who are planning on taking the MCAT or LSAT soon, Serrano advises students to bring their own digital timer to keep track of their own time and to visit the test site before signing up to get the feel of how testing there would be.

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