A major change is taking place with the National Professional Practices Exam (NPPE). Beginning October 19, 2015, all NPPE exams across Canada will be computer-based. This will provide all the benefits of a computerized exam, such as more testing options and quicker results. The exam will be the same basic format, with only a few minor changes. The last paper-based NPPE happened on July 20 of this year, so a computer is your only option now.
Yardstick, an award-winning, privately-owned service company based in Edmonton, Alberta, will provide the testing. Yardstick has a strong reputation of professionalism and excellence since it began in 2005. It focuses on the integrity of the exam and ease of use. Well-trained proctors supervise the exams in a highly secured environment at all times.
The move away from paper exams is to take advantage of the many benefits of computer testing. Yardstick oversees more than 180 testing sites across Canada, in all provinces and territories. More locations means more choice for individuals. This helps people in remote areas get access to the exams without heavy travel. This also means that international candidates will not need to travel to Canada for the exam. They will have the option to write the exam remotely in various locations in the U.S., and around the world.
There will also be more choice regarding exam times. Starting in 2016, Yardstick will offer five exams per year (January, March, June, September, and November). Each exam period, candidates will have three dates to choose from. They will also be able to select morning or afternoon timeslots.
Exam coordinators choose the final locations for each exam based on demand. Candidates are notified of the options via email, and make their selections from there.
The new computer-based format also allows for faster processing times. Candidates can expect to get their test results about four weeks after the exam.
The exam itself will not change drastically. It will continue to be a multiple-choice format with four possible answers each. The topics will remain the same, covering professionalism (10%), ethics (20%), professional practice (27%), communication (1%), law for professional practice (23%), professional law (8%), and regulation and discipline processes (11%). However, there will be a few minor changes to the exam.
There are 10 new questions, bringing the total number to 110. With the added questions, the exam will be 2.5 hours, instead of the previous 2-hour limit. The cost to take the exam has increased by $35 due to inflation, and to cover the costs of the computer-based format. The total cost varies by jurisdiction.
The questions will appear on the screen one at a time, and the user can change answers at any time until they submit the exam. The exam will be offered in English and French, with the ability to switch between the two languages during the exam. The user can also control the font-size on the screen as necessary. The exam proctor times the test, but an on-screen timer also keeps the user updated.
There are some concerns about power outages and glitches during the exam. However, the system prevents information loss in those circumstances. Each answer is saved to a central server, and can be recovered at any time. Users can also change computers mid-exam without losing any information. A free practice quiz is available for anyone who wants to familiarize themselves with the new format before the exam.
Some engineers feel that making time for the NPPE is an annoyance and not worth their time. The computer-based exam will lessen this hassle. The additional testing locations and available time-slots will make it more convenient. Quicker results will allow the examinee to know if he or she passed much sooner than previous exams. The NPPE is an important step in an engineer’s career. The change to a computer-based exam will make it easier for him or her to achieve that goal.