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Division of Research and Graduate Studies

Fresno testing center focuses on users’ skills

Individuals go through courses, tests at own pace.
(July 9, 2004 - By Lisa Aleman-Padilla | From The Fresno Bee)

Terry Brenna has always wanted to learn Excel, a spreadsheet software program that he hopes will boost efficiency in his real estate investment business. var printad = "no";

He has tried various Excel tutorials in the past, learning only bits and pieces. On Thursday, however, as he sat in front of a computer screen in the American College Testing Center in Manchester Mall, the pieces were coming together.

"These directions are very good," Brenna said. "I’ve never seen anything so easy to use."

The Fresno resident is just one of thousands nationwide who have used similar ACT resources to evaluate and sharpen their skills in areas such as business writing, mathematics, industrial technology, management/leadership and small business operations.

"We’re not focusing on whether you are employed or not," said Joe Olivares, the center’s co-director. "We’re focusing on what skills you have." The center, which moved to Manchester Mall about two months ago from California State University, Fresno, provides convenient access to the self-paced courses and testing. Courses can be completed -- at the center, work or home.

"You are able to manage it yourself around your schedule," Olivares said.

Center coordinator Deborah Walters said ACT is open to employers, employees and job-seekers who would like to take courses or use WorkKeys, a job skills assessment system that measures "real world skills."

WorkKeys users are given a score in three main areas: communication, problem solving and interpersonal skills.

The scores can then be used by an employer to determine whether a job candidate is qualified for an opening or whether an existing employee is ready for a promotion.

"I would let my employer know I’m doing this," Walters said. "It can advance them [employees] in the career they’re in."

The center also conducts video and audio recording for specialized testing of social workers, transportation security officers, registered dietitians and automotive service excellence technicians, she said.

As Brenna continued his Excel tutorial Thursday, he marveled at its user-friendly format.

"I’m also listening to it as I go, so of course I can repeat it if I need to," he said.

He said the audio was pleasant and slow paced.

The Excel program had about eight categories and it had taken Brenna about 30 minutes to get through level three: "This is going to help a lot."

For more information on how the ACT Center can assist your business needs, contact Eloisa Valdivia, ACT Coordinator, at (559) 278-0857 or via email at

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