posted on Nov. 27: New centre provides more comfortable environment for writing tests


[img_inline align=”right” src=””]Writing tests, mid-terms and examinations will be a more comfortable experience for McMaster students this year with the completion of a new 135-seat testing centre.

The much-needed facility opened last month in the basement of Arthur Bourns, in what was formerly the building's cafeteria. The University has been without a large testing centre for three years. The need for large classroom space to accommodate growing enrolment necessitated the conversion of the former testing room (located in CNH-104) into a large classroom (which now seats more than 400 students). McMaster continues to use a smaller testing centre located in BSB-B154, which seats 64 students.

“This new testing centre will help the educational experience of our students. It represents the first of several renovation and expansion projects on campus which will help us to address both the current and future needs of this institution in the face of growing student enrolment,” says University provost and vice-president academic Harvey Weingarten.

The completion of the new centre fulfils a recommendation from Undergraduate Council, and endorsed by the University Senate in December 1999, that “a testing facility as outlined in the report [of the Ad Hoc Committee on Academic Integrity] be provided which is available during the formal examinations periods and throughout the academic year. The availability of proper testing facilities should take priority over any other types of bookings of this space.”

The committee's report called for a “testing facility which allows adequate space between students and avoids students being seated in progressively elevated chairs. All testing sites should permit ease in checking student identification and permit sufficient space between students.”

Fred Hall, associate vice-president academic and chair of Undergraduate Council, says that “academic integrity continues to be a priority for this institution and we're confident that this new facility, designed to protect the integrity of the examination process, will assist us in achieving this goal.”

Ruth Toth, assistant registrar, scheduling and examinations, is ecstatic about the new centre. She says it will be used daily. “We can now simultaneously accommodate 199 students in our testing facilities. If an instructor wishes to hold a test during normal class time we now have the ability to move as many students as possible into the testing facilities.” Toth says the centre will be kept very busy and used not only for examinations but also for any special testing done on campus, such as the GMAT and LSAT examinations. The registrar's office controls access to and use of the facility and instructors can book the room by sending an e-mail to

Features of the new centre include excellent natural and overhead lighting, and tables and chairs that are affixed to the floor. There are also four special units with movable chairs for those with special needs (pregnant women, for example, or individuals who use wheelchairs). The centre is decorated in soft grey and maroon.

Construction of the facility, which began in earnest on Labour Day weekend, was completed both under budget and two weeks ahead of schedule, reports George Wesko, project manager, physical plant. He describes the project as “the transformation of a 1960s-style cafeteria to a modern and functional testing centre.”

The University will continue to use Convocation Hall and the Ivor Wynne Centre for December examinations, says Toth, but not the Council Chamber, because of noise associated with the construction of the new University Centre.

Funding for the testing centre was provided by the University's Budget Committee and the provincial government's Superbuild program.