contributed by The NCIDQ Crew
Grading the practicum examinations is a complicated process. There is considerable work done by both staff and volunteers before the exams are even graded. Since everything is anonymous, we spend days immersed in control numbers of exam takers and numbers assigned to graders. Everything we do builds on our commitment to fairness to the exam candidates. The following is an excerpt from the NCIDQ blog that provides some tips that we have gleaned from real-life examples at the grading session.
Before the grading session, we receive a list from ACT with control numbers of people who took the examination. We reconcile this list against our own registration and no-show lists to make sure the lists match. Then, we reconcile this complete list of actual exam-takers against each section for each examination to make sure that we do, indeed, have all three sections of everyone’s exam. That’s why we ask you to write your control number on every page.
Often, we uncover inconsistencies in the control number on the cover sheet of the examination and the vellum sheets. We understand that in the stress of the moment, candidates transpose digits in their control number, so we have to investigate that and correct it. Sometimes, we find that a candidate left his or her control number off one or more pages. When that happens, we have to go back and verify the control number and write that number on all the pages. Sometimes, we can’t read a number clearly, so we go back and verify it and overwrite the digit(s) clearly so that there are no errors in the process of entering scores. You’d be surprised at how much an “8” can look like a zero in the heat of the moment.
TIP: Write your correct control number clearly and cleanly in the cover sheet and drawing pages.
One of the other things the staff does during this physical inventory is remove any evidence of a candidate’s name. Our grading process is completely anonymous. Graders are not allowed to grade any examination where they recognize a person’s control number or work. What we often find is that, contrary to instructions, some candidates write their name on their cover sheet and/or drawing pages. We erase or obscure the name or anything other than a control number that could identify the person.
TIP: Do not write your name anywhere on your examination.
We inventory the contents of each exam packet to make sure we have all the contents for each person–each page of each exam for every section for every candidate. We often find mistakes that must be corrected on the spot. For instance, in the inventory, an exam may be out of numerical order, so we have to find it to ensure that no one’s section is missing.
During the exam, candidates are given parts B and C of the exam at the same time. Most candidates get all the B sheets back in the B envelope and all the C sheets in back in the C envelope—but not all. When we come across a missing sheet in the B packet, for instance, we have to find the corresponding C packet and locate the missing drawing sheet and re-order it in its proper place. If we did not do this, the grader for part B would assume that the candidate did not complete the entire part B and assign a failing grade. Our extra effort in the inventory process ensures everyone gets an opportunity to demonstrate his or her competence.
TIP: Make sure the proper section pages are placed in the correct exam sleeve.
We are also clear out the contents of the exam sleeve. Graders only review what is on the actual vellum drawing sheets, so any extra tracing paper, Post-it® notes or note paper is disposed of in a secure trash bin. If a candidate drafts a solution on a separate page and tapes it to the vellum drawing sheet, we remove it.
TIP: Draft your solution ONLY on the vellum sheet.
For the full article and more tips and for more information on the exam, read our blog posts—everything from how to pass Section 3 to what we consider cheating.
NCIDQ® is an organization of regulatory boards and provincial associations in the United States and Canada whose core purpose is to protect the health, life safety and welfare of the public by establishing standards of competence in the practice of interior design. More information about the organization may be found at ncidq.org.