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Tek.Xam Proves You Have the Skills for the Job

By Emily Yaghmour
Many jobs in today's economy require sophisticated computer skills. An employee who can create a database, design a web site, set up a spreadsheet, and produce a PowerPoint presentation has a definite advantage over social sciences and acquired your computer skills on your own, you probably don't have a way to prove to potential employers that you have the skills they need.

But now there's Tek.Xam, a nationwide technology assessment exam, developed specifically to provide graduates of nontechnical degree programs with a way to prove their skills. On Saturday, April 14, George Mason will host the exam, and alumni are welcome and encouraged to register.

The five-hour test measures a person's knowledge of general technology terms and concepts and one's ability to use software applications to create web pages, spreadsheets, presentations, and documents. It also tests one's understanding of the legal and the ethical issues associated with the use of technology and the ability to evaluate the quality of web content. Unlike other technology exams, Tek.Xam is not tailored to specific software packages.

The test is rigorous. According to an article published last May in the New York Times, 1,700 students from 24 states have taken the exam, and only about 30 percent of those who took the exam for the first time passed it. The Tek.Xam web site at contains an online quiz featuring a sample of the questions on the official test.

Developed by the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, a 48-year-old nonprofit organization consisting of 15 private Virginia colleges, the test has been endorsed by more than 40 corporations, including Gateway Computers, Landmark Communications, IBM, Media General, and Johnson & Johnson. George Mason was one of approximately 65 universities and colleges that participated in the pilot of the test in 1998.

To register for the exam, go to beginning mid-February. The registration deadline is April 11. See the web site for test location. The test will begin promptly at 9 a.m. Test takers should sign in at 8:30 a.m. The cost is $75.

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