ARE 5.0 PPD testing center crash



  • Avatar
    Sarah Segelhorst (Edited )

    My PPD test locked up as well. The Prometric people logged me back in and apologized. After the test,  I was given an NCARB number to call. NCARB assured me that they time was paused during the lockup. I, of course, I have no idea how much time was left before the "crash" so I can't verify for sure.  I just rescheduled - after the 60 wait period.

  • Avatar
    Nathan Watkins

    Yes. Panic mode and then more. This is abuse. Why should we be expected to test under these conditions and act as if it is our fault. 

  • Avatar
    Sarah Segelhorst

    Good luck next time, Nathan!

  • Avatar
    Nathan Watkins

    Thanks Sarah. Good luck to you as well.

  • Avatar
    Pavan Iyer

    Can also confirm that this is an issue, just took PDD this week and lost over an hour of time to slow loading questions. At times, diagrams/pictures wouldn't even load unless I left the question and came back (in which case it would still take over a minute). Each question took at minimum 30 seconds to load, some over 2 minutes. This adds up very quickly, and I am very very disappointed to hear about NCARB's response to your situation Nathan.

  • Avatar
    Nathan Watkins

    Thank you for posting Sarah and Pavan...

    Pavan, your situation confirms my anticipated testing condition for of my upcoming PDD exam. At least, this time, I will be mentally prepared to watch the exam crash at my expense. 

    I will keep calling NCARB and trying to speak with someone who can try to help me after I take PDD next week and post my outcome if I can. 

  • Avatar
    Esther Campbell (Edited )

    So so sorry to hear this was your exam experience... I had the same thing happen to me for my PDD exam and I was SO shaken (but thankfully I passed). But I was so frustrated and derailed by the exam going offline for the case study question, references not loading... and not even able to hit the break button to STOP the clock because the exam was “offline”.

    I say all of this to say... you’re not alone. (Although you probs wished it was just you, so it gives you even stronger a case of why ncarb should comp your next exam or let you take it sooner.... heh) ... the system is messed up, no doubt

    But you’re almost there, Nathan!! Keep pushing forward!! You got this!!

    Keep pressing forward

  • Avatar
    Nathan Watkins

    Esther, thank you for adding a comment and congrats on passing PDD. I just took PDD yesterday and preliminary review said I passed. This exam did not crash, but it started to lag toward the last 50 mins or so.

    As for the exam crashes, I am trying to make the point that there are many of us who already went through this abuse.  It is not necessary for candidates to have a looming sensation of test failure while taking an exam. I prepared myself yesterday to expect the exam to crash and for the case study questions to lag.

    My wife took all of her USMLE Step exams, and if something like this ever happen to anyone in medical school, people would definitely be reimbursed to reschedule at the very least. USMLE roughly has a 90% pass rate vs. ARE which has on average a 50% pass rate - I am starting to think, as an architecture community, we are being abused. We already get abused enough in our profession. I do not understand why we are getting abused by an organization that claims to help candidates, but when it comes to an issue that they do have control over, we are now being pushed aside because it is an inconvenience

    Now that you mention it, I do not think it is unfair for people to request reimbursement if their exam crashes. 

  • Avatar
    Derek Wendt

    Ok so if there’s been quite a handful of complaints about exams being crashed, closed out, lagged, and what not, why isn’t NCARB fixing this? Surely this must be illegal and unprofessional of them not to reimburse for faulty exams? I have yet heard anyone being reimbursed- has anyone been reimbursed??

  • Avatar
    Nathan Watkins

    I have not... and I agree with you Derek. 

  • Avatar
    Esther Campbell

    Nathan - I 100% agree with you... my husband (who’s a nurse) and I are grinding it out with a little 1 year old boy, trying to make ends meet. And failing these exams has been really hard to have to financially buget another $230 + for the exam... and the time that I spend hiding from my son just to get some study time in. Regardless if you have a kid or not.. these exams are emotionally and mentally demanding. And for the exam PROGRAM to derail you and cause a potential failure is absolutely not fair. - and I totally agree that ncarb should at least allow you to retake it at no extra charge. We aren’t asking for a “automatic pass”... but simply another chance to take it again without the computer program crashing and wasting 10+ minutes. It’s not fair that we don’t have the full 4:15 minutes to take the exam that is given to all the other candidates for circumstances that are out of our control.

    I pray that no one else experiences what we went through...

    But hoping you’ll have a better test taking experience the next round, Nathan :)

  • Avatar
    Tomasz Mlynarski

    The computers at my testing center are antiques as well, they must be around 10 years old or older. I had a crash before, fortunately it never effected the exam.



  • Avatar
    Melody McKool (Edited )

    Something similar happened to me and NCARB was of little help! Again last week this has happened and I am still trying to resolve it again. I spoke to some mentor Architects and they said we should start going to the state liscensing Board and complaining because NCARB shouldnt have this much control over us and penalizing us for a faulty testing center or exam! I will be complaining and I think everyone else should do the same so we dont get suckered into keep paying them more and more money for something that is out of our control!! 

  • Avatar
    Nathan Watkins (Edited )

    Tomas, i have tested in different areas (i.e. large city and suburban town). Neither areas ever worked as poorly in ARE 4.0. Sad to say, but I scheduled my PPD exam in San Francisco, which you would think, has fast internet speed, a higher volume of examinees (so PCs should be slightly faster), and faster servers to accommodate for higher volume. 

    I doubt the actual computers would be the problem...i was able to find out that the exams work like a VPN system. The testing center does not actually have the exam, rather, NCARB has their servers which administer the exams and you VPN into the server from the testing center. That is why even switching from one question to the next lags a half a second when you click next. Kudos to PPI who simulates the lag speed on their practice exams...

    I share your sentiment Melody, NCARB is out of line expecting us to sacrifice more than we intended to going into this profession... I do believe a unified voice would be of more benefit... it might be difficult to do something like this across state lines since everyone who posted is most likely in a separate state. I would like to get a count to really find out how many people this level of failure has happened to. 

    I would appreciate anyone who is coming across this thread to please post if you experienced a crash during your exam.

  • Avatar
    Pavan Iyer

    Between the test crashing and the recent post of NCARB making a candidate pay the rescheduling fee for a medical emergency, I think there is a lot of reason to be disappointed and frustrated in the way NCARB is treating candidates and taking advantage of their situation.

  • Avatar
    Tasanee Durrett

    Unfortunately I experienced crashing (Twice!) during my first time taking PPD in October.  The crash happened within an hour of each other, and I think it almost happened a 3rd. I contacted NCARB to inform them of the situation and to request a refund and was told:

    In looking into the incident we are able to confirm that the issues at the testing center were resolved and you were successfully able to resume and complete your exam. Also, I wanted to share that no time was lost when these technical issues occurred because your clock pauses every time the system is rebooted or re- launched. While we understand these are things that are not planned or expected, unfortunately, we are not able to grant you your request. 

    Even if time wasn't lost, I had bad anxiety after the 1st, and don't even ask what happened to my focus after the 2nd crash!

    Where I test has 2 testing rooms. When my 2nd crash happened, I looked across to the other side, and another test-taker 
    (Taking NCARB by the way) was experiencing multiple crashes as well. 

    I am not asking for much, but NCARB, it would be very much appreciated if we could get credit back for situations like these. We are not trying to take advantage. We are simply trying to get a more fair account of this issue.

  • Avatar
    Natalia Cebollero Venegas

    I am in total agreement with you all! First time I took an exam, there was like a 4 second lag during the case studies. I felt I was wasting my time as I was looking through the reference materials. This was super frustrating. I barely finished the exam.

    The second time I went to take the exam, my computer crashed. The center employee had to restart my computer ( I was already nervous going into the exam, and when this happened, you can imagine it got 100 times worse). She was able to pull up my exam, but the clock never stopped. I wasted like 3-5 minutes during this process.

    NCARB should definitely improve this. The exams are already hard enough, making us go thru all these tecnical issues makes everything worse. Hopefully our voices are heard...

  • Avatar
    Shawn Mazur (Edited )

    I had  a very similar experience back in Sept. Sadly  I failed the exam... not because I did not know the information but simply ran out of time.  Do not expect much from NCARB. If you finished the exam the score is valid. They are aware of this issue and neglect to fix it.  In 4.0 I always had time to check my answers over.  With this test you have 2 minutes to answer each question and that is it!   I retest this coming week. I already expect the system to crash.    

  • Avatar
    Ngoc Anh Pham (Edited )

    Oh my goodness, this has not happened to me on previous tests but sounds like its more common with ppd. I am preparing to take my ppd test for the first time in a few weeks and the thought of this happening during the exam is very anxiety inducing. We pay enough money to take this test and sacrifice so much of  our personal time/mental health that an adequately functioning test condition is the minimum baseline that should be expected. It is completely within the power of NCARB to either fix the problem or offer some sort of remedy so that issues due to their own technology problems does not result in wasted months of effort and sacrifice on the part of test takers who pay to take the exam. Even reimbursing the test or asking you to retake is asking alot as you just wasted your time and effort that you could have been spent pursuing something else of benefit (loss of profit) not to mention asking you to spend more time to restudy and re-prepare. I am sure Mr Michael J Hanahan would have some thoughts on this. Going to the state licensing board or some higher authority on this is not out of the question if they dont get their act together.

  • Avatar
    Shraddha Strennen

    I had my computer lockup on me in PcM or PjM (can't remember which one) back in October.  Testing center rebooted my computer and told me not to worry about it.  It left me concerned.  Nov 10 I took PA and each question took 10-12 seconds to load - a few took even longer.  I know this because I watched my clock tick down each time. If I wanted to review a question - I was screwed.  In each exam, I have taken 4, I had a script error pop up if I used the strike-through tool.  I have also taken tests at three different testing centers - so not any one location is to blame.  The point of my post is that the problem is pervasive.  Not just PPD or PDD. I'm sure NCARB is aware - they just don't care.  One day it will be fixed and testing rates will go up to cover the costs.  #heldhostage.

  • Avatar
    Christopher Kiefer

    In my experience, it seems like each Prometric location has its own Internet connection speed. I believe this is the main influence of the intermittent lagging or freezing that people are seeing. Personally, I had a fair amount of trouble with lag (no crash though) during the case studies in San Francisco's Embarcadero location (August 2018). However, recently I found that the nearby ProMetric location in Alameda, CA was noticeably faster (November 2018).

    If the screen simply displayed the internet ping time (in milliseconds) on screen, I bet it would help NCARB and ProMetric diagnose a pattern with the lag problems. This is pure speculation, but I believe each ProMetric franchise subscribes to varying speeds of Internet with ISP's. According to the URL below, a "Dedicated DSL or cable modem" is one of the requirements. There doesn't appear to be a minimum connection speed required.

    On NCARB's side, I wonder if the PDFs within the test could be re-saved as "Reduced Size PDF," a function available in Adobe Acrobat Pro. Sometimes, this can decrease the file size dramatically (i.e. 356kb to 36kb), without obscuring the image. That alone might make loading much more snappy.

  • Avatar
    David Kaplan

    ^^^^^Totally agree with the assessment above.  I tested in Mentor, OH and had zero issues.  None.  Everything loaded just great, no graphic issues, great graphic resolution, zoomed in, zoomed out, not a problem.  Computers there didn't seem brand new either.  I've been reading these testimonies and I can't even imagine dealing with those issues.   I give a lot of credit to those encountering them but are staying positive.  It definitely seems like an internet issue with individual centers!  What other reason could cause such a discrepancy of computer experiences across the same exact test from the same company? 

    Not to mention you might be there when 20 other people are taking different exams at the same time which could also be a factor. 

  • Avatar
    Pavan Iyer (Edited )

    I don't think the issue here is so much that there are technical problems taking the tests, but more so NCARB's response to said problems. Whether or not it is their fault or not, it sounds like they should handle these situations better given the amount of money we have put into our training. Many folks that have had issues seem to have gotten little to no help with NCARB, and now we have to resort to posting on a message board rather than simply having confidence in NCARB.

  • Avatar
    Brandon Estes

    To add to this thread, I just got home from taking PDD.  NCARB's servers dropped the connection twice, during the case studies.  I was almost done with the exam however I lost time (who knows how much).  I gave up at that point.  What are you supposed to do when you pay hundreds for an exam, NCARBs servers disconnect, and you wait for Prometric to scramble because they can't fix it?  I had less than 13 minutes left.  Parametric did write up a report though.

    Has NCARB ever credited anybody for this?  Next time, shall I refuse to continue the test?  During my education and throughout my career, I have not heard one good thing about NCARB, not one, from anybody...ever.

  • Avatar
    Nathan Watkins

    David, Thank you for posting a comment to this thread. I do appreciate your comments on testing material and clarification from other posts which I have used during my examination.

    Brandon, I do not know if anyone has been reimbursed, but so far it sounds like a resounding "no".

    If anyone comes across this thread and experienced a crash, please message me with the following information:


    exam + date taken:

    exam crash: (how many times)

    case study lag: (longer than 5 seconds OR not that bad, i.e. 1 to 2 seconds)


    i will try to advocate for those who send me messages so that I can at least try to get somewhere with NCARB. Not going to guarantee anything but I would like to speak with someone who is slightly reasonable.

  • Avatar
    Brandon Estes (Edited )

    HI Nathan,

    So you have my name.  I took PDD on NOV 20 at 1:30pm PST in California.  Crash time was twice, logged by staff once.  I lost approximately 20 minutes which NCARB won't acknowledge.

    I have reached out to the California Architects Board (email if in CA) and I will be emailing my elected state representatives.  This is not only a breach of contract and fraudn - why should you or I be subject to different conditions than other test-takers for the same exam?

  • Avatar
    David Simpson

    I'm going to add that I've dealt with these issues myself. The testing facilities are an absolute joke.

Please sign in to leave a comment.

Powered by Zendesk