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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    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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    Joseph Miller (Edited )

    "Fighting back"? Ian, come on, that's a little extreme. Put yourself in their shoes, a problem occurred, and they are scrambling to fix it. I personally would rather have had the test crash on me than be working at NCARB yesterday. At the time of the issue we were not their priority, their priority was to fix the exam for the people testing today and tomorrow; that is how it should have been. 

    It's unfortunate that it happened to us, but it was a mistake. Give these guys a break. If we over analysis every way this has been talked about of course we will find inconsistencies.

     

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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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    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 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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    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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    Joseph Vraspir

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

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    Erin Baird

    I would also like to know if we can wait to sign up for a retest. I would like to know if I passed or failed the exam I took yesterday. (I only had 2 questions unanswered.)

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    Justin Pelland

    Folks,
    As many of you are aware, part of the ARE content covers the AIA Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct. If you've studied it or are generally familiar with the content, you'll know that amongst the many ethical standards are responsibilities to be professional to your colleuges and to take care in representing the profession. I'm not sure what some of you seek to gain out of the witch hunt rhetoric, but consider for a moment that when commenting, you're logged in to your NCARB accounts - a company, as you know, which is responsible for creation of the test which measures your understanding of those very ethical standards. I suggest everyone tone back their message and attempt to treat the NCARB staff with respect and consideration. Admonishing them for not forseeing this event or responding within hours of it doesn't get anyone any closer to a resolution. Be patient. Or better yet, be productive. But above all be respectful.

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    Jared NCARB

    Wednesday Morning Update

    First, I'll start by saying that we've learned a bit more about candidate expectations regarding communication on this forum. NCARB waited to post on this thread yesterday until after we could provide more specific data to our list of impacted candidates. We've heard that you'd prefer to get early engagement even if we can't fill in all the details. Lesson learned - we'll move forward using this philosophy and adjust as need be. Since we're going to engaging as we we're actively working through issues - please expect some unknowns to be identified in our reporting.

    Where we are at on getting things remedied:

    NCARB has manually created new eligibilities for the known impacted division delivered on January 30. This list is being handed off to Prometric customer care to begin reaching out to impacted candidates today to reschedule appointments.

    NCARB is now researching the individual candidate performance on these exams. We're going to be sending emails out to all impacted candidates to provide you some feedback on your performance. As some of you have noted, you may want to wait until after your exam is scored to avoid retesting in the case you passed. You certainly have that choice.

    I'll give you all another update today around 2:00pm EST. Stay tuned and thanks for your ongoing patience.

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    Joseph Miller (Edited )

    Jared, when you gave us feedback about our exams, did you just look at how many questions we had answers? 

    Or did you look at the amount he had answered correctly? I assume it's the former, but I hope it's the latter as that will help us strategize how to proceed. 

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    Daniel Widlowski

    Jared, 

    It seems some of us experienced issues on Monday, and are not included in the list of people that were counted as being affected by the outage. Although the technical issues were different perhaps, we experienced the same result, i.e. not being able to complete the exam as designed. I feel as though some of us may have gotten lost in the weeds, as I called NCARB immediately after leaving my exam, and have not received any word from NCARB since, despite having a ticket # from Prometric. 

    If a candidate is not able to complete the exam, for whatever reason, they should be granted the same resolution as others are granted, and I feel like that is not the case at this time. Can you clarify how many people that were affected on Monday do not count in regards to your comments above?

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    Jared NCARB

    To follow up on Joseph's question above, feedback given on item performance of impacted exams was based on total items answered correctly. Your feedback was based on how many points you earned by answering questions correctly.

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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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    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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    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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    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

    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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