I took the new online exams during the holiday break. PPD on Dec. 23th and PDD on Dec. 29th. Both were not completed due to multiple disconnection and technical issues. I was using a Macbook with an external Webcam and connect to Wi-Fi.
On Dec. 23th, the beginning of the exam was quite smooth. The proctor showed up quickly and I passed the technical check and environmental check. After about 30 minutes, the program exit automatically with an error message BB01040. I tried to reconnect several times but couldn't succeed. I contacted technical support and have tried a couple more times with the steps they requested, including re-boot computer, re-boot router, I even switched my computer to a windows laptop. After trying for about 2 hours, I was told due to multiple disconnections and the issue still exists, the next path of action is to re-schedule the exam. And I was told Prometric will handle this and will contact me with the re-scheduled date and time. I don't have to contact the exam provider.
After the system failure on 23th, I am very concerned about my next exam on 29th. But the re-schedule window is already passed on 23th so I have to take the exam on 29th. The beginning was smooth until after about 40-50min. The proctor told me she lost my Webcam image and requested me to exit the exam and log back in. I did so, I couldn't hear the second proctor's voice so she asked me to exit again over the chat window. On the second time, the proctor said he cannot see me but he can hear me. He told me there are only 3 disconnections are allowed for this exam, so I only have one chance to try to re-connect. So he told me to double-check all my connections, internet, webcam and make sure they are running well before I try next time. Apparently, passing the system check provided by Prometric will not allow you to complete the exam. Anyway, I did all the steps again, re-boot router, switched the computer to a windows laptop. This time, finally I was able to reconnect successfully. I continued the exam until 2 hours left and took the 45 min break. And come back continued the exam for about 15 min, the program exited automatically again with an error message BB01030. When I tried to reconnect this time, the launching page is not accessible. I checked my internet connection and other webpages, they all were working fine. I also tried my MacBook, my windows laptop, and my desktop computer. They all cannot access the launching page for some reason. I reached to technical support again. First, they were saying it might because the windows laptop I was using is a corporate computer that has a firewall blocking the website. So I switched back to my MacBook, the technical support guy was able to access my computer and remote control my computer to solve the issue. But he couldn't figure out the issue and asked me to contact my internet provider.... At this point, it has been almost 7+ hours since I started the exam. I contacted Comcast, which took a very long time for them to understand the issue. While I was chatting with Comcast, I contacted Prometric again and told them Comcast is helping me but I don't know how long it will take, and asked if I still can back to the exam where I was stopped after this long time. And I was told again, they will re-schedule my exam due to multiple disconnections.
I am sure the wise decision is to wait for the online exam sorted out and cut-score established instead of being the laboratory rat. I chose to take the exams over the holiday break because this is the only time of the year I can be focused on the study and cleared my mind with work and life issues. I understand during COVID, we really couldn't go anywhere other than staying home for the holiday. But I still feel I sacrificed my valuable holiday time by taking these exams and was not able to at least complete them. And until today, I still didn't hear anything from Prometric on what to do next. My status on NCARB is "Awaiting score" and was not able to re-schedule myself. After these horrible experiences with online exams, I think I will re-take the exams at the test center instead, if I can. The online exam is a good idea but apparently, it requires too much and is not addressed clearly in the guideline. I live in a one-bedroom apartment, so the only enclosed space I can take the exams is my bedroom which has no ethernet connection. And if a technical issue appears that is out of our knowledge and out of technical supports' knowledge. It will add up to the pressure we had during the exams.
For anyone who will or intend to take the online exams,
- Be prepared, there will be multiple disconnections and technical issues. Passing the system check and internet speed check provided by Prometric doesn't ensure you complete the exam smoothly. Odd things will pop up during the exam.
- I suggest using a Windows laptop (personal, not corporate) and connect with ethernet. (which is not an option to me, and not addressed clearly in the guideline that Prometric and NCARD provided).
- I am not too against the digital whiteboard, however, I do encounter that some of my notes disappeared after I jumped from the case study to the regular questions.
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