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The word proctor, which is a result of the shortening of the term procurator, has three definitions. Initially a proctor was involved in the legal field with specialization in church law, and maritime law. Proctors also proofed wills. Sometimes the proctor was specifically a specialist in church law and would represents minister from the Anglican Church.
In England today, the proctor is someone appointed by a university to ensure the good behavior of students who have not yet obtained their master’s degrees. They investigate any accusations of cheating, keep young students’ behaving in a manner fitting with the dignity of the university, may administer tests, and are empowered to confine misbehaving students to their dorms, called gating.
In the US, we mostly see the term proctor associated with people administering tests, especially standardized ones. If you take a GRE, SAT, CBEST, MCAT, or any other standardized test, a proctor administers the test. In some cases, testing companies employ many proctors for a single standardized testing. The proctor’s job is to hand out test booklets, watch students for signs of cheating, tell students when to start or stop sections of the test and thus ensure the integrity of the test. The proctor is charged with safe delivery of tests to a supervising proctor or testing agency.
Actually, many people apply to be proctors, because the work tends to occur on weekends, and the pay is usually fairly good, between 20-50 US dollars (USD) per hour. Each testing agency may have different requirements. Some require that you have taken the test you will be administering, while others merely make sure you have the ability to clearly convey instructions to students.
A rise in online colleges or distance learning sites has led to more job availability for the proctor. Many tests and exams are administered solely by proctors in the employ of the distance learning facility, since there is no faculty on hand to give regular finals. Even in online classes from a college physically located near students some teachers employ proctors for any test taking.
If you would like to be a proctor, consider contacting some of the standardized testing agencies in your area. Each will have its own requirements, but many people find this mostly weekend work simple to do. It can be a nice way of making a little money on the side.
If you are taking a test administered by a proctor, remember that he or she is not there to solve your problems with the test. The principle role of the proctor may be to answer simple questions about the test overall. You can ask a proctor, “What pages are we on now?” or “Where do I put my name again,” but you cannot ask the proctor for advice on individual test questions.
I worked for a professional tutoring and test center for a few years, and part of my job was to proctor all kinds of tests. I had to learn everything about each test, like the time limits on each section, passwords to unlock online tests and acceptable materials and aids. I proctored everything from college entrance exams to high tech certification tests for medical professionals. Some tests included high resolution x-ray and ultrasound images. Others were actually classified by the government.
I also had to process the tests and verify the results with my own embossing tool. Some of these tests were very expensive to take, and I also had to be very empathetic to testers who received failing scores. It was a very challenging job for me, and I say proctors definitely earn their money. Professional integrity is everything.
When I was an English tutor at a local community college, I occasionally got assigned to proctor a test for an absent professor. Most of the time all I had to do was pass out the test, tell the students what time limits were in place, and collect the finished tests for grading. I sat at the instructor's desk and watched a timer count down to zero.
Sometimes I felt like a substitute teacher, however. At least one student would try to cheat by looking at other test sheets, and I had to remind people that I had the same authority as their regular instructor. If I felt someone was being too disruptive or had cheated on the test, I had the right to take punitive action. I think a good proctor has to establish control over the testing environment in general.