So I took (and thank God, also passed) the FTCE: General Knowledge Test today, exam 1 of 4 towards obtaining my professional teacher certification. I had been preparing by using the Cliffs Test Prep book (pictured to the right) and followed the advice in the book that suggests we replicate test conditions while studying. I was fully aware that the entire exam was now going to be done on the computer but I was not prepared for how that fact would affect me. Being that I was using a physical book, somehow my mind had prepared me to still write something. When I did my practice essay, it was on paper. When I practiced the English Language Skills and the Reading subtests, also all on paper. I practiced the math section by literally turning the pages. I think you get my point.
I was completely thrown off when I got to the testing site and that almost affected my performance. The format of the problems and the reading passages were not like the book. Even the very brightness of the screen in contrast to the tan-colored pages of the practice book really made a difference. I hesitated, even switched my essay topic midway and took a few minutes to get adjusted. They provided us with a tutorial before we began and it was much needed. For instance, passages being a split screen instead of the linear format in the book tripped me up a few times. Without the liberty of being able to turn the pages as an indicator that I was now reading a new passage, it would often take about a minute or two of disorientation to realize why the questions no longer made sense and the I needed to scroll up to read the next passage.I found myself a bit apprehensive that the readjustment may take some of my time. This affected the math and essay portions as well. These are the portions that require the most interaction, either looking at a reference sheet, working out problems or writing down thoughts. During my practice sessions, this is done horizontally by peering over the booklet or lined paper. Doing these tasks on a vertically standing screen did in fact lead to some forgetting of concepts I had studied not long before because much of the energy went to processing the change of having a computer in front of me.