Exam Problems? Contact state Architect Boards, AIA Chapters, and state representatives



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    Thanks for starting this thread, because I and 2 other people in my office have been taking and taking this exam-MULTIPLE TIMES-  and none of us can make 'heads or tails' on WHY? I FOR ONE WANT TO KNOW HOW THEY ARE GRADING THIS EXAM BECAUSE SOMETHING JUST ISN'T RIGHT AND I GET NO SUPPORT FROM NCARB EXCEPT PAY 300$ TO HAVE IT REVIEWED!!  I'll PASS this info along to my fellow colleagues. 

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    Melody McKool

    I suggested this same idea in a separate thread titled something about the exam crashing and a slew of people having problems. Hopefully others will see this and do the same! NCARB needs to be more supportive to their people taking the exam especially when there are technical issues that are not in the control of the test taker and should not be reprimanded. I heard straight from Prometric that the exam issues are directly related to NCARB's program and not their system. the crashing and system lagging is NCARB's issue not Prometrics and this needs to be addressed. I personally have had multiple problems and NCARB had been of little to no help. I am very disappointed in the way NCARB has treated us and if they continue there will be a ghost of this profession in the future!

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    This test needs to be more 'straightforward' than it is currently. As a 2 year test taker who's taken them all, I have found many questions (esp. on PA) to be 'subject to interpretation' such as 'the location of this to satisfy these items' but there are two areas that would satisfy this- or looking at a drawing that seems to have 2 areas that could be used for a restaurant with a drive thru, but you can only pick 1. I have encountered many items such as these and it's deceiving (at least to me and i'm sure many others as well). YOU (NCARB) provide a handbook with very straightforward examples and then you get to the test and this is not 'quite' so. There is no score given, just re-study these areas, VAGUE! From what I've read over the years, as well as the pass/fail rates, it seems that this test is designed to fail 1 out of every 2 test cannidates and that's not right. I too will reach out to my state department of professional regulations as well as any other delegates I may find through my research. This has to be FAIR for ALLTEST US ON THE FACTS NCARB AND STOP THROWING SO MANY CURVEBALL QUESTIONS, IT'S SET FOR FAILURE AND IT'S NOT RIGHT!  

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    Melody McKool

    Hi Brandon,

    Did you take down your last post or it was deleted? Curious as to your outcome. I saw someone on another group was going to take peoples info to gather a group together. email me at rachelle@phdesigngroup.com 

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    Brandon Estes

    Hi Melody et. al,

    I will email you this week.  I meant to draft a letter people could send to legislators but I got busy this weekend.  I did make another post a while back and took it down - I was rather "miffed" to say the least about the exam but being upset won't do much good.  I have been in touch with NCARB about the irregular exam circumstances - a person could get clearer answers from a front-end DMV employee.

    That said, I don't wanna be a rabble-rouser, but there are enough hurtles and constraints to becoming licensed.  NCARB corporation has one job, to administer an exam, and it is disingenuous to candidates, the public, and licensing boards to be administering exams that malfunction and then pretend is not an issue.  The only way NCARB corp will be accountable is by requirement of legislation/regulation.  I think state legislators would be interested in knowing if state licensing boards are receiving unreliable data and that their constituents are being subject to faulty exams (and extra $$).  Since NCARB corp is in essence operating a monopoly at the national level, I think federal legislators would also be interested.

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    Kristin Moreno

    Perhaps you should read more on how the exams and questions are formatted. They go through numerous evolutions before even making it onto the exam as one of the unscored questions. They do this to test them and get stats before they become one of the scored questions or thrown out. None of them are subjective. There is usually one key thing you should know that would give you the correct answer. 

    As far as issues at the Prometric center, just keep reporting it to the proctor there when it occurs. Do you go to the same test center each time? Perhaps try testing at another location if possible.

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    Brandon Estes

    I was able to reach a manager at California Architects Board today - meh.  He reiterated the same canned response that comes from NCARB corp.  He did confirm that there is zero regulatory/statutory oversight of NCARB corp though.

    I have failed more than one division but I have never tried to appeal or dispute my score.  That said, the common theme that I see with NCARB exam malfunctions is that NCARB staff shifts the subject from the malfunction to the exam results (so did CA Architects Board today).  If a person passes a division, even if they encountered exam malfunctions they probably will not report them because, hell, it's in the rear-view mirror.  Run, right?!?

    Most likely, the majority of people who are reporting exam malfunctions have failed the division.  NCARB does not have a clear policy about how candidates should handle an exam malfunction, there is no clear choice for the examinee: stay, leave, continue - the current policy is vague and ambiguous.  It's nothing more than a suggestion.

    My proposed solution: remove the exam results from the equation.  If an exam malfunctions, NCARB should permit the examinee the choice to immediately stop the exam and reschedule it PRIOR to knowing what their results might have been.  This way, somebody might be forfeiting a passing score just as easily a failing score.  This would lead to a more valid data set regarding the exam administration and pass/fail rates, and remove any incentive for an examinee to use a malfunction as a reason to contest a score.

    Why won't examinees ever be given this choice?  Because it would cut into NCARB's revenue.  Every time an exam malfunctions and the examinee fails, NCARB makes another $235+ (cha-ching!) and can dismiss the malfunction by saying the examinee is upset about a failing score and that the exam is fine.  It's an awesome strategy, though I am not sure how ethical it is.  This is why people are upset about exam malfunctions: they smell the BS.  It's about the $$$ in the customers wallet at whatever expense, not the customer or ethical business practices.  Let me know if you want a template letter to send to your state and federal reps.  

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    Brandon Estes (Edited )

    Hi Patrizia,

    It would be virtually impossible to get people together and hire counsel.  Unfortunately, NCARB's response to exam malfunctions is a sham.  I suggest you spend the $$ and buy extra study material (as I did) and kick-ass on future exams (I am working on this) so NCARB corp is in your rear-view mirror.  As I did, you can write your state and federal elected representatives, explaining the problem you, as a constituent and consumer, are having with this unregulated corporation that has a monopoly on a service/product.  I work in government and believe me, your elected representatives DO listen, especially if you write/mail them a formal, succinct, and professional letter, effectively outlining the problem.  You can use language similar to that below (of course altered for your jurisdiction and whether or not you are writing your state or federal reps): 

    "…unlike, for example the State Bar of California that administers the State Bar Exam, corporations and businesses that administer and proctor licensure exams on behalf of the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) are not subject to regulatory oversight by the state or federal government.  There are currently no regulations promulgated by the Dept. of Consumer Affairs, nor the federal government, that protect consumers (test takers) from the corporations and businesses that administer these licensure exams in DCA’s stead."
    "NCARB, a corporation based in Washington, D.C., has been given the privilege of participating in the regulatory process of licensing architects in California.  However, NCARB is under no obligation to comply with the California Public Records Act and there is no way to verify that the data submitted to the state of California by NCARB (and similar corporations) is reliable and valid.  There is no check-and-balance system in place to ensure that NCARB customers, who have gone to great lengths and expense to get to this point, are treated ethically and are subject to clear policies to ensure no price-gouging or unfair business practices.  Customers of NCARB corp have no market choice - we are subject to whatever policies or lack thereof NCARB corp chooses, or chooses not to employ, in efforts to increase its revenue because NCARP corp is a monopoly."
    "Suggested solution: upon experiencing an exam malfunction or irregularity, test-takers should be immediately given the choice of continuing the exam or terminating the exam and permitted to reschedule the same exam at no cost.  At this point, the consumer has no choice but to forfeit the exam or continue testing under irregular conditions, which poses an opportunity for NCARB corp to capitalize on the malfunction, considering the test-taker cannot take their business elsewhere..."
    Best of luck, Patricia and I strongly encourage you to take the 30-60 minutes to draft a letter to your elected reps.  Once you draft a letter, you can lightly alter it for each of your state/federal reps and you can share the letter with others.  Or, as I did, with permission, you can simply add multiple names to a letter, similar to a petition.  NCARB is in the business of making money and justifying it's existence, not "listening to customers."  Write your reps.
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    Brian Jones (Edited )

    Thank you Brandon for this post.  I was about to write a very similar post myself.  

    I was scheduled to take two exams (PPD & PDD) this past week in Hong Kong.  

    On the PPD exam, I experienced terrible delays whenever I tried to load the case study material.  

    If that wasn't enough, when I showed up to take the PDD exam two days later, I received an error message stating that the computer couldn't connect to the server/system.  After speaking with the proctors for a while and waiting outside the exam room while they contacted the international help desk, I was informed that I would not be able to sit for the exam on that day. 

    A Prometric staff member then basically took me aside and said that I should not come back to Hong Kong to take any ARE exams since they frequently encounter problems. 

    I live in Taiwan.  I flew to Hong Kong specifically to take these 2 exams.

    I recently received a "FAIL" for both the PPD and PDD exams.  I didn't even take the PDD exam!  It's outrageous.  

    I have been in contact with NCARB multiple times for the past week and feel that I am just being brushed off. 

    I will be more than happy to help with any petition-like document/process in order to address this.  NCARB needs to be made to do the right thing here.

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