I have finished all of my exams last December, after 2 years of test taking and it was not a fun experience to say the least. However now that I am hearing how unfair the recent events for all test takers are and how NCARB seems to do nothing to remedy the situation, I find myself "lucky" that I was done with AREs before the Pandemic. I am still part of a lot of ARE study groups and I hear the cry! So I wanted to write this comment here, hoping that people can join me and can be heard.
A friend of mine was supposed to take her exam on June 1st and Prometric emailed her to cancel her PPD exam on Saturday May 30th, two days before the exam!!! I personally know how much she studied, especially the last weeks and how mentally prepared herself until last minute and was ready to pass. I want to believe that NCARB knows how much people are studying for these exams. I remember how much I pushed during my last 4 to 6 weeks to PPD and PDD. My friend was the same, she was studying 8 hours a day, taking hundreds of questions everyday and it breaks my heart to think that her effort along with other test takers are overlooked like this. I can not understand how inconsiderate, unfair and cruel someone has to be to cancel such an important exam like this, two days before... The same thing happened to another friend I know, last week. Her exam got cancelled 2 weeks prior! And the weirdest thing about all this is, NCARB refused to refund them! They only give back credits (after a 7 day waiting period ) and suggest for you to reschedule your exam in 2 months, with no guarantee! Who knows if those people are going be able to take their exams in two months..? Scientists are already predicting that the virus will come back again as early as November. So will they have to go through this again in two months?
Again it makes me think that, simply NCARB doesn’t understand or care how much people are invested in these exams, how much they have studied, and how many years and how much money they have spent to get their licenses. Besides when people call Prometric after the cancellation e-mails, they only get to talk to a customer service rep who have never worked in architecture a day in their life and can't begin to understand what they are defending when they talk to frustrated people like my friends. I hold NCARB accountable for all of these issues. This test takers are not in contract with Prometric, so they can only speak to NCARB directly and NCARB should be there for them.
In fact this problem is not so hard. This crisis can be managed way better than it is now and I want this post to be a productive tool in addition to venting out some steam. So, I have deiced to list my very doable suggestions below. Please, please, please NCARB help test-takers voices being heard and please everyone chime in and help things change.
My Suggestions to NCARB
- Admit the fact that neither you, nor Prometric and not even the President of the United States can promise anyone that they will be able to take their cancelled exams in two months when they reschedule. So you must refund people's exam seats immediately without a time-limit so they can wait and see how things will play out and have some sort of control over their own life. No one has the right to play with people's feelings, life, and plans like this.
- No one is saying the pandemic was anyone's fault, so we understand that this is out of NCARB's control. However, federal and local authorities are saying that we are not going back to normal right away, it will be in phases. Which means there will be a limit on occupancy for a long time. As Prometric also stated earlier, they were gonna have a 50% limit in June. So people assumed Prometric was going to inform them in a timely fashion whether or not they will be able to test in June. However as I stated before they do/did it in the last minute. Why didn't NCARB make Prometric understand that it is not okay to tell people that they won’t be able to take their exams last minute? NCARB MUST have Prometric notify test takers at least 4 weeks before the test-day. Nothing less is acceptable! I understand it is not their normal policy but nothing is "normal" about Pandemic, right?
- Make more realistic suggestions and planning regarding the test-taking schedule under the circumstances. Since no one was able to test since March and as I said the occupancy limit will make it hard for people to take tests in the coming months too, it is not realistic to tell someone whose exam is cancelled in June that they will be able to test in August either (in 2 months rescheduling period). The number of people that are having their exams cancelled is accumulating faster than the rate of people being able to test and it will keep doing so.
- The Rolling Clock should be paused for everyone, until Prometric test centers are back to 100% capacity.
- The NCARB seat credit expiration dates should be extended accordingly too.
- NCARB yearly dues should be held until the pandemic is over. All people that have already paid will get a nine month extension as has already been put in place with rolling clocks
- A representative for test takers should be in the room when NCARB makes decisions regarding the rollout of a new examination in order to give direct feedback to the executives who isolate themselves away from talking to test takers.
Like I said before, I ask the ARE community here to please comment below if you have any more suggestions. Contribute to this so hopefully NCARB can hear it. It doesn’t matter if you are done with your exams or just starting to take them. This could happen to any of us! So let’s make some noise!
Stay safe and keep studying!
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