Friday morning, after a fitful sleep, I rose at 6:30 a.m. to see that it was bleak and raning outside.
Yes, I really did get up at 6:30.
I showered, dressed, put on some make up so I'd not look half dead (they take your picture!) and reviewed the contents of my reticule (and yes, I was carrying what amounts to a reticule, and not a purse, because you're pretty much not allowed to take ANYTHING into the test.)
Drivers License: check
Passport (the MBLEx, which I took at 8:00, requires TWO photo IDS): check
Credit Card (just in case): check
Reservation sheet (again, just in case): check
Socks to knit (in case there is waiting involved): check
Car Keys (pause, grab from Study Buddy's purse, since she graciously let me take her car): check
Water Bottle (not IN the reticule..): check
Room Key: check.
Deep breath. It was 7:06. I let Study Buddy sleep, grabbed by jacket, and let my self out of the room.
Downstairs, they had free hot breakfast. I didn't really have time for much, but I snagged a cup of coffee, a 1/4 bowl of oatmeal, and about 1/4 of a scrambled egg. Some fuel was needed, but I had neither the time nor the stomach for a real breakfast. At 7:17, I left the building.
Upon arrival at the testing center, I was given a written set of instructions, reminding me of stuff I'd already been told about what could and could not go into the testing rooms. This list includes the obvious (notes, study guides, computers, cell phones, weapons (!)), and the not so obvious (pens, pencils, paper (unless provided by the center), watches, large pendants, bracelets, large earrings, food or drink of any kind, ear plugs (unless provided by the center).
I re-read the list, and knit on my sock as I watched as others were checked in. Then it was my turn. I showed my drivers license and my passport. He kept my license, but returned my passport to me. I signed my name on an electronic signature pad -- with no screen. I then had to let them take a palm vein scan with a machine that looks like this:
Evidently, this is more effective than a finger print scanner.
So, once my palm was scanned, I sat down and had my picture taken. Then, a charming young lady came up. The fellow at the desk handed her my Drivers License, and she escorted me to a locker, into which I put everything I'd brought with me - coat, reticule, water bottle (after taking a healthy swig). She asked me to empty my pockets. We locked the locker, and I took the key. We then walked to the back of the office, where she again scanned my palm - to "open" my test.
She escorted me into the testing room, where there were 15 desks, each with cubicle like walls to the edge of the desk, kind of like these:
On each desk was a computer, a mouse, a mousepad, and a keyboard, a set of noice cancelling ear muffs. She reminded me that if, at any time, I wanted to leave the room, I should raise my hand. She would come get me, and escort me out (and back in again if appropriate). She signed me into the computer, had me confirm the spelling of my name, placed my Drivers License on the desk in front of me, and left me to the test.
The first thing they have you do is take a wee survey, asking your age and gender, and asking why you chose to take the MBLEx. Then, they require you to agree that you will not disclose the exact content of the test, nor any specific questions to anyone on pain of various bad things. Thus, what you'll see here about the test itself is pretty vague.
125 multiple choice questions.
Some were easy. Some were challenging. Some touched on things I could only guess at, since they dealt with things we'd never discussed in our classes (only some of which were related to Ayurveda -- others included the different kinds of reflexes we have). Some let me know that I really should have looked more closely at that Assessment Book, but luckily for me addressed conditions that I was able to dredge up enough memory that I think I got them right. Some had pictures related to specific pathologies for us to identify.
The rumor had been that this test would be the easier of the two. It was shorter. And it didn't ask me any Chinese Medicine questions (which isn't to say that there aren't any, just that my draw from the huge pool of questions didn't get them). It did ask more about Ayurveda than I'd expected. I'm not sure whether it was easier or harder. After all, there is the question of whether my brain is as functional at 8:00 a.m. as it is at 1:00 p.m. (I'd say unlikely).
Either way, I finished the test. I went back and reviewed every answer (I had the time left to do it, and in the last day or so I'd been marking wrong answers on practice tests even though I KNEW the right ones). I corrected one answer. Perhaps later I'll go look to see whether I should have. Then I admitted I was done, ended the test, and raised my hand.
The lovely lady came to get me, escorted me back out of the room, where I had to again have my palm scanned to "close" the test. I walked back to the front of the office, fetched my things out of my locker, and was given the printed result of my MBLEx Exam.
I passed. (Oddly, they tell you what your score is, what a passing score is, but not what a perfect score would have been, so you've no idea really what your score means other than whether you passed).
Phew. The afternoon's test is less scary now.
I returned to the hotel, and met Study Buddy for breakfast.