VIU is First Canadian Member in National College Testing Association

Photo Caption: VIU assessments coordinator Felicity Blaiklock (r) and Christina Brand, assistant assessments coordinator, proudly display the plaque signifying VIU’s certification as the first Canadian member of the National College Testing Association.

August 18, 2014 - 3:00pm

Sweaty palms, racing minds, and nerves set on edge by the intense pressure of applying your knowledge in a high stress, time-constrained environment. These describe a few of the normal human responses to exams and test situations faced by students everywhere.

As Canada’s first accredited member of the National College Testing Association (NCTA), and the first non-US based institution to earn this designation, Vancouver Island University (VIU) adheres to standards of excellence and best practices in testing that are recognized worldwide.

While the new accreditation may not eradicate sweaty palms and nerves, says VIU assessments coordinator Felicity Blaiklock, the NCTA designation means that test situations are designed to offer students an environment where they will have the best opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge.

“This is a real sign that VIU is committed to the highest standards of excellence in testing,” says Blaiklock, one of the assessments professionals at VIU who has worked towards accreditation with NCTA. “It’s really good because the NCTA is the most widely acknowledged, professional testing organization in the world.”

Blaiklock credits her predecessor Jane Saxton for taking the first steps towards NCTA certification, including her leadership in bringing together testing professionals at colleges and universities in BC to form the BC Higher Education Testing Association (BCHETA). The BCHETA became a chapter of the NCTA, and planted the seed for VIU to pursue accreditation as an individual institution.

The NCTA accreditation means that VIU is committed to fairness and academic integrity in testing, she says, including professional development that ensures instructors at VIU are aware of issues in testing, such as how new technology can potentially be used in cheating.

While Blaiklock stresses that cheating is an extremely rare occurrence, she says it’s still important to be aware of technology such as the latest “smart” watches that incorporate wireless technology.

VIU’s Assessment Services, located in the Students Services building, is set up to offer invigilation services for prospective VIU students – including many students entering Trades programs – as well as staff and community members and external organizations seeking a professional testing environment.

“One of the great things about having the NCTA certification is that we have many external people and organizations interested in using our invigilation services,” Blaiklock says. “We can show that we are adhering to the highest standards of excellence in the testing world.”

Sitting in the bright, uncluttered classroom space where testing services are offered, Blaiklock can recall many examples where knowledge of best practices in testing has helped ease a student’s anxiety, and helped them deal with a result that is less than they expected.

“When they come in, they meet us and feel they’re entering a calm, professional, friendly environment, with everything here that they need,” she says. “It’s not going to be a scary test environment; it’s a place where they’ll find we’re going to be as supportive as possible, because we understand how stressful this is.”

When students aren’t successful, occasionally learning their results immediately, Blaiklock and her colleagues are there to offer support and some perspective.

“It’s a really important part of assessment, knowing that even if you are not successful the first time, there will be other opportunities.”

Students who take a poor result in stride, with the understanding that they can improve for a future test, are often the ones who find the best success in the long run, she adds.

“Not succeeding the first time is sometimes a positive thing,” Blaiklock says. “The student who isn’t successful today, goes away, does the work, and so often comes back to be successful, and that demonstrates motivation. You actually want to be here. And what do we want? We want students at VIU who want to be here.”


More Information:

About Assessment Services at VIU

Individuals or organizations who require a  professional, invigilated testing location to complete computer-based or paper exams can learn more about exam invigilation services at VIU at or by contacting Felicity Blaiklock at 250.740.6276, or by email at

About the National College Testing Association:

The National College Testing Association (NCTA) is dedicated to the promotion of professionalism and quality in the administration of testing services and programs, including issues relating to test administration, test development, test scoring and assessment. The objectives of the organization are to enhance professional testing practices, offer opportunities for professional development, encourage professional support activities, and advance collaborative efforts among testing professionals, testing companies, and other policy-making agencies. Learn more at


Media Contact

Shari Bishop Bowes, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P:250.740.6443  C: 250.618.1535 E: T: @viunews

Tags: Teaching and Learning

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