TESTING CENTER - Connection Error - Not Able to Test

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  • Official comment
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    Jared NCARB

     

    NCARB has been actively working with our testing partners to get things answered to ensure we can provide all impacted candidates an appropriate update as soon as possible. I thank all those impacted candidates that did reach out to NCARB customer service identifying your technical issue yesterday. We have just received a full list of impacted candidates and have reached out to all impacted candidates. NCARB does apologize for the inconvenience and frustration caused by yesterday’s ARE 5.0 delivery issue as such an issue does not meet the expectations of the ARE.

     

    What Happened

    A system issue arose that impacted about 40% of those that tested yesterday. Prometric notified us immediately, and we worked actively with our testing partners to address and resolve the issue to resume testing as soon as possible. ARE 5.0 administrations resumed before end of day yesterday and no further system issues are expected. 

     

    What Now?

    NCARB is now working to restore each impacted candidate’s eligibility so they can reschedule this exam administration. All impacted eligibilities are expected to be reset by tomorrow morning.

     

    What Next?

    Prometric’s customer care team will begin reaching out to impacted candidates immediately upon eligibilities being reset so they can be retest at no cost.

     

    In the case that any impacted candidate passed based on how complete they were before being impacted, the results of the retest administration will not be scored and removed from the candidate’s record. If any impacted candidate did not pass based on how complete they were before being impacted, these results will be removed from your record and your retest attempt will be scored.

     

    Again, NCARB is sorry for the inconvenience this has caused some of our candidates and thanks them for their patience as we work through resolving this.

     

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    Caroline Fernandes (Edited )

    I had the same issue.  I had 1 hour 45 minutes remaining on PDD and it all shut down.  They said it happened at all testing centers.  Just spoke to NCARB and they said the ENTIRE SERVER shut down and "is still not working properly."  I will now have to reschedule and retake the entire test, and who knows how long it will take for NCARB to sort out the issues and actually reschedule my test.  To say I am FURIOUS would be an understatement...

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    Heather Taylor

    I was also taking PPD and the test just stopped.  I had gotten through about 13 questions and then waited in the waiting area with a colleague taking PcM who had all but 5 questions done. After about an hour we were told that they have no idea when it would be back up and it was almost 1pm and I still had almost 4 hours left of test.  I was so excited for my first test.  I am discouraged. I have another test (PcM) scheduled for tomorrow.  I am concerned that they won't have this resolved by tomorrow

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    Caroline Montague

    I experenced the same error at a testing center today.  It was VERY frustrating to have prepared and driven a long way to the testing center to have the system error occur and not alow me to take the exam.  After spending an hour waiting, calling NCARB, and trying to get the system to work I finally had to leave as there wouldn't be enough time to finish the 5 hr exam by closing time.  This is unacceptable as I missed an entire workday driving to and from the testng center without even taking the exam! That is a signficant loss considering I will have to return to take the exam again.  This is my first exam, it does not make me hopeful that testing will go smoothly in the future.

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    Lucia Freeman

    I was  4 1/2 hrs in to my test when the crash took place. When they got my computer working again the timer had continued to run, so I didn't have any time to complete the exams. Devastating after months of studying (and +4 hrs of testing). I'd like an apology at the very least. 

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    Aaron Honsaker

    I had the same experience as you, Lucia. I was working on my 2nd case study with about 40 minutes left when my exam crashed. When they had it up and running again my time had expired. Thanks for wasting an entire day of mine, NCARB.

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    Laura Morton

    I had an hour and 50 minutes remaining on PPD when the system crashed, with 16 case study questions outstanding.  Because I was so close to finishing, I waited around at the test center until the system was back up, which was over an hour and a half later.  At that time, I only had about 15 minutes to complete the remaining questions (since the clock had apparently continued to run).  As we know, one minute a question is not a lot for the case studies, so I ended up with 7 unanswered questions.  I'm wondering, since I did officially complete the exam (i.e. "end exam"), will it in fact be scored?  I assume there is probability I could still pass, so I am hoping this isn't an across the board forced retake.  

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    Marlee Brabin (Edited )

    I also had the same issue today with PPD. I only had 9 case study questions left with 40 mins of time remaining when everything froze and said "Connection lost." After being on hold with the Help Desk phone line for almost 2 hours, my time had expired by the time the screen came up again. Very frustrating. 

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    Laura Morton

    Update: My ARE record does say awaiting score for the PPD, so I'm guessing it will be scored? I'm curious if those of you that didn't submit your answers, have the same status? 

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    Marlee Brabin

    Laura: Yes, mine does say "Awaiting score." I'm assuming this is because my timer ran ou while the system was down, and even at the testing center, their internal system said my test had been completed even though I was not able to finish it. I have emailed NCARB and Prometric submitted a ticket for me as well. I asked for confirmation of this in my email, but I expect this test to be voided. 

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    Darci Lorensen (Edited )

    Yep, I had a crash too. I was in question 92/120 in PPD. Prometric tried to move me to a new conputer, which obviously didn't work since it was NCARBs server, and after an hour of waiting, I left. I had 2 hours and 20 mins left in my exam. 

    I drove 2 hours/100 miles (one way!) to get a seat for this exam today, and missed an entire day of work! So disappointing. I bet those of us caught in this mess will have to wait 60 days to re-test, too, since (I believe) the 60 day window is for privacy. 

    EDIT: Mine also says  "Awaiting Score"

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    Kristine Aterno

    Does anyone know of a contact number for NCARB? I am scheduled for tomorrow for PPD. Yikes.

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    Darci Lorensen

    Kristine - 202/879-0520

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    Ryan Kautz

    Same issue for me with PPD.  I was on question 110 out of 120 when it crashed.  So frustrating!  I waited for 1-1/2 hours for them to try to fix the problem, and when they let me back on, the timer had run down to zero.  What a waste of time and effort.

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    Erin Baird

    Same thing happened to me. I had 2 questions to go, and 20 minutes remaining. Then it crashed. I am just hoping NCARB was able to record my answers and will score accordingly. I will be pretty upset if I have to sit for PPD again, when I might have passed this time around. I'm sure NCARB's phone line will be pretty busy tomorrow.

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    Erica Spayd

    Everyone whose test crashed today should email NCARB at customerservice@NCARB.org. Put "ARE 5.0 Test Center Issue" in the subject line and include your test info (location, division you were testing, etc.), as well as personal info (name, NCARB Record #). Give a description of what happened, where you were in the test, etc.

    I called and spoke with NCARB shortly after I left the testing center and they told me to do this. This will help them understand the full scope of the issue, how many people were effected, etc. At the time I spoke with them, they were unsure of how the incentives would be handled, but contacting them with your specifics could help sort that out.

    Good luck to all on getting this sorted out, and on your retakes if you should need them.

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    Ian Baldwin (Edited )

    Today as I took Dev + Doc, my computer froze with 48 questions and 1:14:52 left on the clock. The attendant attempted to restart the computer and move me to another station but by the time the test rebooted the clock had run out. She told me that she had been on the phone with prometric's "global help desk" and that they told her it was an NCARB issue, and that NCARB was aware of it. She said it had affected other testers as well (true, judging by the posts here) and that NCARB would be in touch (false).

    Computerized testing has been the norm for 20 years and it is inexcusable that the ARE should be less than 100% reliable. For an organization running very short on trust and struggling to transition candidates to 5.0, it's hard to imagine a bigger cock-up.

    In the next 24 hours, We are ALL entitled to know:

    Why they have not been in touch by now about this extraordinary and very stressful problem? Why have they not apologized?
     
    How will NCARB account for partially completed tests?
     
    How can NCARB guarantee the robustness of it's testing system in the future? How are we to trust a testing provider (prometric) whose employees cannot get their own help desk on the phone?
     
    Will NCARB refund all or a portion of the exam fee? Will the Visa gift cards still be delivered, since we upheld our end of that bargain?
     
    Even for NCARB, this is a monumental fail. I hope their response will us whether they are worthy of the stewardship of our professional futures. I would urge my fellow candidates to think about to respond should NCARB not answer the issues above to our satisfaction.
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    Joseph Vraspir

    I too had a horrible experience today. I was on question 112 out of 120 on my exam when NCARB's online testing server crashed. I waited around for two more hours, but to no avail. I kept being told by the attendant that I would be able to have the exam reloaded and go back to where I was. She waited on hold for over 1 hour before getting through to the Prometric IT Dept. I was told there is nothing NCARB can do, that all of my test data was lost. Telling me that I can 'reschedule' at no additional cost is just a joke to me. Even with only answering 112 out of 120 I still might have passed, who knows. Now I will never know. I feel like I wasted a whole day, not to mention the month of studying I did. Will I have to wait 60 days to retake? Then have to restudy all over again? This is horrible. Just a huge sinking feeling deep in my stomach. Thanks NCARB. Thanks for an absolutely horrible experience.

     
     
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    Joseph Wassell

    ...What good timing for a Live Q&A about 5.0

    http://blog.ncarb.org/2017/January/NCARB-Live-Making-the-Switch.aspx

    #AskNCARB

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    Daniel Widlowski

    I had a similar experience as others here. I had started earlier than my exam time, and had actually recorded an answer for every question, so at the very least I want my test to be scored. Then I want NCARB to make it right. 

    I'm sorry to hear about some of you that were midway through the test; not finishing has to be the worst feeling. I too drove about 90 miles to my nearest test center, and took the day off from work, but I am disappointed to hear this was an issue everywhere. The prometric staff at my test center were also very unhelpful, and did not do much to assuage my concern over the crash. 

    We should be upset, but we should give NCARB a chance to respond. Right now some of its employees are probably still at work trying to sort this out, and before they start contacting everyone, they probably want to have a clear idea of the extent and the best course of resolution. 

    I hope for all our sakes that this is the only time this happens, but it is slightly comforting to know that more than just a couple people were affected, and hopefully this is managed acceptably. Good luck to everyone who saw that horrid error screen today. 

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    Justin Pelland

    I had the same problem. I was taking the Practice Management exam and clicked next to start the exam but before I could even answer a question the system lost its connection. I waited for 45 minutes for the testing center staff to look into thinking "no big deal, I hadn't even started yet" but when they got the test up and running again, the clock has apparently continued running. I had to do the entire test start to finish in under 2 hours. It was very stressful.

    To everyone here who's clearly upset and angry over this development, understand that this is a new test (which means entirely new software deployment) that's going to have issues. Ultimately, that's why NCARB has been offering incentives to early test takers - to work out the bugs and establish the cut scores. Ultimately, I have to imagine that they'll find some kind of equitable solution. Worst case, anyone who took a test today (Jan 30th) will have an opportunity to re-test at no cost. Best case, they review the questions you were able to answer and lower the cut score for the day appropriately (and obviously subjectively) to make up for it. One thing is for certain, though. They probably need more than 6 hours to figure out what happened and address the problem. Remember - before they can help the people whose tests glitched today, they have to make sure it doesn't happen to the hundreds of people who could be testing tomorrow.

    Let's all just sit tight and hope for a reasonable solution.

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    Justin Pelland

    Also - definitely email customerservice@NCARB.org and candidatecare@prometric.com and make sure to include your test division, date, time, description of the issue you encountered, and the test confirmation number if you have one.

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    Darci Lorensen

    Yes, while I am disappointed this happened, I'm sure the NCARB employees are quite stressed trying to figure out what happened and how to fix it. Hopefully tomorrow they'll be able to give us an update.  

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    Oluwole Oshota

    I hear you all! The same not so pleasant experience for me besides wasting some useful Monday working hours. This is technology for you. I hope they are able to fix the problem also.

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    Joseph Vraspir

    NCARB, still no apology? Really? It's time to take responsibility for your actions.

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    Ian Baldwin

    Darci --

     

    Thanks for bringing that up. I agree that it would suck to be working for NCARB at the moment. They haven't made any effort to communicate what went wrong, so I can only guess that they have been put in this spot by a vendor unable to execute properly. The NCARB folks themselves, I am 95% sure, do not directly run the technical side.

    That said, NCARB is still the responsible organization. We pay them significant fees and trust that they use those fees to carry out their mission properly. There is a parallel here to practice: if a consultant working for you fudges up, you (not the consultant) have to explain to the client what went wrong. And unless the consultant was being deeply, egregiously duplicitous, the architect bears some responsibility for lack of adequate oversight. The C-401 states that the Consultant is not "responsible for the acts or omissions of the Architect" and others working on the project. But there is no similar provision for the Architect vis a vis the Consultant, only that the Architect "shall be entitled to rely upon the accuracy and completeness" of the Consultant's work, which is a different standard (nice to know we can apply all this information we've been learning for NCARB's tests!).

    It's also common sense. If you hire someone to provide services under your banner, you assume responsibility when their work blows up. NCARB can, and should, pursue whatever remedies they want against their vendor, but NCARB has the only direct responsibility with us, their "customers."

    And I think there is a clear lack of that sense of responsibility. Even if this is a completely technical-side issue that NCARB did not see coming, NCARB still has a responsibility to PLAN for the unforeseeable. We all work in a field that is heavily IT-dependent. We know how fallible PCs, servers, networking gear, and broadband connections can be. All of our firms have (or should have) ongoing data backup and disaster protocols. NCARB seems to have forged into a brave new world of remotely-served testing without any kind of backup plan or disaster protocol, which is exactly why they are now scrambling around trying to fix it on the fly, not communicating with us. It just makes you wonder who is in charge over there.

    I have registered for the webinar today at 3 and I hope everyone else on this thread does too. We need need more than answers, we need to insist that NCARB fully explain its failures and satisfactorily address them going forward. 

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    Darci Lorensen

    Ian-

    Haha, yes, I wasn't letting them off the hook, only being understanding that they may be trying to sort it out and come up with a "game plan" before they release any statements. To parallel with your practice example: at my firm, if an issue arises and we need to inform the client and/or contractor, we try to have our ducks in a row and fully understand the issue before anything is said, and to also have an idea of how to resolve the issue before it's a problem (not that this happens a lot, haha). Now, we certainly don't wait days to communicate, but we simply try to do our due diligence of taking the problem on head first. I was hoping that NCARB is exercising this plan of attack as well.

    However, since I wrote that last night, I saw this morning that they have given some responses to this issue on another thread:

    https://are5community.ncarb.org/hc/en-us/community/posts/115000239028-The-Interface

    And the information said there was not the same as what myself and others had heard live from NCARB via their customer support.

    So, my opinion has slightly changed. I think its time for NCARB to release an official statement on this issue and how they are going to fix it. If they don't do it soon, they are going to be dealing with many even more pissed off people then they have now. 

    I am registered for the webinar, and will be joining the call, however, I hope NCARB fully explains themselves before then.

     

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    Daniel Widlowski

     

    It would behoove them to take steps to resolve this matter prior to the webinar today, if only to avoid that webinar being railroaded by people trying to get resolution to this issue. 

    It is understandable that people would take the opportunity for direct contact to voice their concern over this incident, however, it would be extremely unfair to the candidates that are hoping to gain a better understanding of the 5.0 launch, as the webinar was intended. 

    If for some reason NCARB does not provide a response before 3pm EST, then they should be fully aware that the webinar will become a customer service line for an hour. We shall see soon....

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    Darci Lorensen

    Fully agree Daniel! The intention of the webinar was not to discuss this issue, so hopefully NCARB will step up to the plate beforehand. 

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    Ian Baldwin

    Darci, thanks for the link to that other thread. Someone on that thread asked them to post here this morning, but since they haven't, I will repost Jared's responses in italics with my comments:

    Also, I have no problem with getting their ducks in a row, but as with clients, you also have to move quickly to explain what is going on and offer apologies if necessary. If you make a client/tester wait days until you explain/apologize because you were trying to figure it all out, then you've already lost them. I think the 90 minutes I spent sitting around the test center, and all the time since then, was plenty enough time to be kept in the dark.

    Daniel, I'm not trying to hijack anything, but I think you would agree that a massive "system failure" might have some bearing on your decision about whether to transition to 5.0! I'm happy to offer any feedback I can on 4.0 vs 5.0, from my own experience or the discussions I've had with others who are considering the same thing. But for the moment, I would have to say stay the hell away from 5.0 because it doesn't work. 4.0 is on a different platform that's had years to sort out its technical issues, at least.

    Joseph & Jessica, sorry about the technical problem you both experienced. There was a system-wide issue that impacted all ARE candidates at the same time.

    You will be contacted by Prometric to reschedule your appointment as soon as possible and at no charge. You will be given a different form of the exam on your retest so you will have the full exam again. We don't allow people to pick up from where they left off as candidates could certainly go back and change answers to previously answered questions.

    This is not true for me. The Prometric attendant from yesterday called me with a ticket # and told me to call a prometric 800 number. she didn;t say this was for rescheduling. She also said she did not know exactly what the next steps were and how NCARB would resolve the issue.

    As for the "going back to change answers" assertion, that could be easily (or at least should be) remedied by locking those questions that were already answered.

    You don't need to avoid study material before your retest. Your free retest will be a completely new test event.

    Completely unacceptable. This means that in order to pass whatever test we were taking, we will have had to take, effectively, a longer exam than the other candidates, with the 60% of the test i finished being completely written off.

    As for the restest, of course it's going to be free and of course we are going to get the gift cards and free-retest-if-failing incentives because that's what we signed up for. We did NOT sign up for being Lab Rats for NCARB to figure out how to propery administer their test, and NCARB is offering absolutely NOTHING, not even a token, to acknowledge how their "system failure" completely messed with the heads and lives of people who have been studying weeks + months for these exams. At the least, we should be offered a free additional test, since our tests today were simply flushed down the toilet without explanation.

    James and Autumn, the issue experienced at test centers early today has been resolved. Candidates are currently testing in Prometric test centers across the country.

    Autumn, NCARB does understand the commitment of taking time away from work and/or family to test. We also understand your frustration of having been at the test center and then having to reschedule. The problem experienced was not due to anything related to being an early tester but was a system issue that unfortunately impacted all ARE candidates.

    If you "understand," then why have you not explained 1. what is a "system issue" 2. why we should have no fear in continuing to take a test that has been affected by this issue 3. why you have STILL not contacted all the candidates affected by yesterday's massive failure to at least apologize, only said sorry to two people on a random message thread.

    When contacted by Prometric to reschedule, please discuss your desire to get a weekend appointment to avoid having to miss any additional paid work. Please note, by testing today you are guaranteed the early tester incentive regardless of when your rescheduled appointment takes place. Please do not feel that you have to rush back into test if that does not work for your schedule. 

    Are you seriously telling people to "discuss their desire" rather than simply offering them priority rescheduling? Of course nobody has to rush back into the test, that is not the point. This is a cold, logistical response, with a discernable lack of any real empathy for the testers.

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