AUBURN — The young man stepped away from the bank of computers, back out through the glass doors and grabbed his keys and wallet while Dan Dundore retrieved his test results.

He’d driven more than an hour Tuesday to sit for three tests in a row.

“Good news, there’s a ‘P’ next to all these,” Dundore said.

The young man smiled — passing meant a nice raise at work.

“The good news, it’s hard not to tell them,” Dundore said after.

Dundore is site administrator of Central Maine Community College’s new Center for Testing & Assessment. It offers hundreds of computerized tests and certifications for some of the most well-known companies in the world: Microsoft, Cisco, IBM. Praxis tests for new teachers and ASE automotive certifications were recently added.


The setup in the former college bookstore is serious: Test-takers stash their belongings in a locker, sign a confidentiality agreement, show two forms of ID, have their photos taken and take the test under two cameras and Dundore’s watchful eye.

The stakes are high, too: Test-takers come in as a requirement at work, or hoping to prove themselves for a raise, to build their resume, get into nursing school or test out of college credit.

Celeste Gnidehoue, 19, a CMCC student getting ready to pursue a bachelor’s degree in international business, took the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) test for French this winter after discovering she didn’t have enough credits to transfer. She’s from the Ivory Coast; she felt good about her French. It’s her first language. She wasn’t sure, though, what to expect from the test.

“I decided to give it a shot, I was like, why not?” Gnidehoue said. “I ended up with 18 credits, which is around six classes, without ever taking a single class. It saved me a lot of time and money.”

CMCC works with test vendor Pearson VUE. Before it opened, the closest Pearson VUE-approved test centers were in South Portland and Bangor.

“One lady did not pass her IT test, it basically meant her job,” Dundore said. “She came back later, passed.'”


Since it opened in August, nearly 200 people have sat for IT and industry certifications or CLEP tests. Tests cost $125 to $300 and are paid for and booked online in advance. The center receives a small fee for administering each one.

Dundore’s position is paid through part of the $13 million Maine is IT! grant shared by the Maine Community College System. He spends part of his time reaching out to tech companies and encouraging them to send people in for tests or the classes that lead up to tests. 

Among the IT-related test-takers, he’s seen an 80 to 90 percent success rate in passing certifications. One test might cover gaming development, another networking or security.

“It’s a way to validate your knowledge,” Dundore said. “Particularly in IT, if you have folks that just got into it because (they’re good at it) they don’t have a way of validating that, but going to school would be a waste of time because they could probably teach the class.

“Certification alone doesn’t qualify you to do your job well, but they never hurt your resume, is what I tell people,” he said.

It cost $65,000 to build the new testing lab, according to spokeswoman Heather Seymour. Eighteen bare-bones workstations sit behind all-glass doors and walls. Test-takers, so far a mix of college students and local professionals who’ve worked in their industries for a while, are only allowed to bring in scratch paper and a pencil.


Depending upon the test, they find out results immediately online, get the news from Dundore or hear in a few weeks.

“I had a Bates student taking New York State teachers certifications” not long ago, Dundore said.

This winter, he helped develop a list of tests CMCC students can take to earn course credit that stretches across 16 majors, including culinary arts and early childhood education.

“It speeds them through the journey, it encourages them along the way,” he said. “The statistics are incredible. Even if it’s only six credits, the degree-completion boosts incredibly. I think it’s the incentive, it encourages them that they can do it.”

Cory Thompson of Lewiston took three Microsoft certification tests at the center last fall for his job at a local computer company. He took several classes or a quick-hit boot camp class before each one.

This spring he enrolled as a student at CMCC. The certifications earned him six credits, enough to skip two classes.

“It got me more interested in actually taking courses and getting a degree,” Thompson said.

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