On Your MOC, Get Set, GO! To the Exam!

For those of you who have elected to take Pediatric MOC Part 3  proctored exam at a Prometric Center® instead of the quarterly Pediatric MOCA process, this is for you. The deadline for taking the exam is fast approaching and the margin for error is zero. The technical name for “the exam” is the “Pediatric Cognitive Expertise Exam/Part 3.”

I went through this process a couple of years ago and wished I had been advised on some of the not so obvious steps in preparing for the final approach. My experience and advice is as follows:

When they say allow a lot of time to find the Prometric Center it is for good reason. The test center was located in an unmarked building in an industrial park. The GPS on my android kept informing me that I had arrived at my location, which was an intersection between 2 dump trucks and an axe throwing bar. They were impossible to distinguish from each other.

image source: twobuttonsdeep.com

When you finally arrive you are given a locker and informed that you have to empty your pockets in the locker.. You can of course access your locker during breaks

Remember to bring ibuprofen with you in case you get a headache. I sure wish I had. If you take other medication remember to take that with you as well.

When you finally sit for the exam, you are in a room full of cubicles and while it is theoretically quiet, those who are easily distracted by a symphony of gum smacking and  keystroke click clack, in B Minor you will need to find a way to filter out the noise.

If you fit that description definitely bring earplugs. While they DO provide you with over the ear headphones, they are the kind that seems to have been made in the 1970’s.

I wish I had brought a pair of those soft orange ear plugs but I didn’t have someone to advice me on how to approach the exam.

The ones they provide have plastic edges that leave permanent scars behind your ears. They did filter out some noise if you don’t mind the painful distraction of the hard edges cutting grooves into your outer ear.

I suggest you bring light clothing with a zip up sweatshirt. You never know if it will be too hot or too cold there.

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You won’t need a calculator because there is an on screen calculator there for you to summon up during the exam.

Laying it all out, the exam is set up as follows:

You have to answer 2 sets of questions with 100 questions in each set. You have around 2 hours to answer each set and once you close out 1 set you cannot go back to it.

During each question set you are given a warning when you have an hour remaining and 30 minutes remaining.

time running out gif meme

In addition, there is a hold button for questions you are not sure of. I suggest that you answer all the questions you are sure of first and place the ones you are not sure of on hold to come back later to. You need to make sure you release the hold button when you come back to answer the question!

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I made the mistake of not realizing this. I went back and entered answers to these questions and thought I was done. However, when I looked at the main menu the questions were still listed as incomplete. Fortunately, I had time to spare.

incomplete pass


After I finished the first question set and reviewed my questions, I still had over a half hour left. It is tempting to use that time rather than move on to the next set. However, this is a test of stamina as much as it is a test of knowledge. Most of us have not taken standardized exams in years and are not used to this.

I viewed myself as being on borrowed time regarding attention span, so I closed out this set, took a break and went onto the next set.

At that point I wished somebody had suggested I take along a light snack as I am suggesting you do. At that point I realized that I was also on borrowed time regarding my blood sugar levels dropping.

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After the exam they informed me that my phone rang during the exam with various sounds and ringtones indicating I had texts coming in. In reality they could have told me this when I went for a bathroom break. But I was very relieved that I was done with the exam and immediately changed my ringtone to Alice Cooper’s “School’s out for Summer”.. at least I was done with this exam for the summer.

TL;DR:

  • Get there early to make sure you can find the Promteric® center
  • Bring ibuprofen and any medication you might need with you.
  • Let folks know you will not be responding to phone calls or text messages since all your belongings will be placed in a locker (sort of like going to prison except they let you keep your belt and shoes)
  • Bring earplugs
  • The computer has a calculator
  • Answer all the questions you know first and hold the ones you are unsure of for later and come back to them.
  • Unhold questions that were held after you answer them.