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Computer-Based Testing Now Available for Pesticide Certification Exams

BY BRIAN VERHOUGSTRAETE, ACTING PESTICIDE SECTION MANAGER
MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT
PESTICIDE AND PLANT PEST MANAGEMENT DIVISION

Michigan’s pesticide applicators now have more choices when it comes to when and where to take their pesticide certification exams. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has partnered with Metro Institute, an Arizona-based certification and technology company, to offer computer-based pesticide applicator certification exams at various locations throughout Michigan. Metro Institute has been providing computer-based certification exams to the pesticide industry for over 13 years and they currently provide computer-based certification exams for eight states including Michigan.

Unlike other vendors who provide various state licensing and certification exams, Metro Institute works exclusively with the pesticide industry and only offers pesticide applicator certification exams. In fact, the company started out decades ago as a pesticide application business before transitioning to applicator training, exam development, and exam testing. Metro Institute’s business model is a little different than some of their competitors’ in that, rather than establishing their own testing centers, they partner with colleges and universities to utilize their testing centers and proctors. This allows the company to offer testing in dozens of locations around the state and at a variety of convenient times. Although each school can determine the days and hours they wish to offer certification exams, most are open Monday through Friday 8 AM to 5 PM, and some locations are open on Saturdays. Currently, Metro Institute has established testing centers at 11 different colleges and universities throughout Michigan and is working to establish many more locations in the near future. For a current map of Metro’s computer-based testing locations, please visit their website: www.metroinstitute.com.

Convenience does, however, come at a price. Metro Institute currently charges $55 per exam. For example, if an applicator wishes to take the core exam and the turf exam (3A), it will cost the applicator a total of $110. While the fee for taking a computer-based exam may not be cost effective for some applicators or businesses, for others the benefit of being able to take an exam at a time and location that is convenient for them far outweighs the exam fee. According to other states that use Metro Institute, computer-based testing is a very popular option with applicators and businesses as it allows them the flexibility to test at a time and location that works with their busy schedules and offers a faster way to get certified.

Scheduling an exam with Metro Institute is very easy; customers can either call the company’s toll-free hotline or visit their website: www.metroinstitute.com. First-time users will need to create an account and receive authorization from MDARD before scheduling their first exam. The authorization process, which is required for security purposes, typically takes about 24 hours to complete and the applicator will be notified by email or phone once they have been approved. Once an applicator has been authorized by MDARD, they can take as many exams as they wish within six months before they will need to get reauthorized.

Similar to the traditional paper-based exams that MDARD offers, applicators that take a computer-based exam with Metro Institute will receive a printed exam results sheet that indicates whether or not they passed their exam, what their exam score was, and a breakdown of their score by chapter. One major difference between taking an MDARD-administered paper-based exam and a Metro Institute computer-based exam is how the certification application and fees are handled. With MDARD exams, applicators must bring their application and check with them to the exam site. This is not the case for computer-based exams as Metro Institute’s exam centers will not accept any MDARD certification applications or fees. Therefore, applicants who utilize computer-based testing will need to mail their completed certification application (new or renewal) and check to MDARD prior to scheduling a computer-based exam. For more information about the certification process for Metro Institute’s computer-based exams or MDARD’s paper exams, please visit MDARD’s Pesticide Certification homepage.

MDARD understands that getting certified in a timely manner is very important to both applicators and employers. We hope that our partnership with Metro Institute, as well as our existing paper-based exam process, will provide testing options that meet everyone’s needs. For more information about MDARD’s certification program and exam process, please visit the Pesticide Certification Program’s homepage: www.michigan.gov/mdardpestcert. For more information about Metro Institute, or to schedule a computer-based exam, please visit their website: www.metroinstitute.com.