Major Exam Software Issues

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    Brandon Estes

    Aw man!  This sucks!  I had to deal with this for two exams and I did a bunch of research and combed nearly 3 years of this ARE 5.0 Community... NCARB staff is well-aware of these problems, so is the NCARB board.  I wrote a letter to my state elected rep, to the CA Architect Board, and sent copies to the NCARB Board member for CA and the Board chair...

    Of course, NCARB staff replied with a letter basically saying I was crazy and NCARB is perfect.  Again, this has been an on-going with problem with ARE 5.0, NCARB is aware of it, but they won't address publicly nor do they fix it, and it's been about 4 years now.  If you have the energy (which I hope you do), figure out which board member serves your area and send him a letter and copy the Board Chair.  

    The US is broken up in Regions and there is a board member for each Region.  You can google them and get a work addy.  I would suggest that you not send a letter to NCARB because they will not give it to the Board and they will not provide any info on Board members for you to contact them - I tried.  But you should write to the Board members because NCARB staff will not let the board know about anything like this.  And who knows - maybe the board doesn't give a ****.  But at least you can do your effort to shed light on this.  I have only the two big exams left (was a 4.0 to 5.0 transfer).  If I don't get through the PPD/PDD by the time other exams expire, I am putting this behind me.  NCARB is a circus and I want my life back.  Had I seen behind the curtain when I was younger, I would have studied engineering.  School doesn't teach you what you need to know, NCARB doesn't test you on what you need to know, and if you actually become licensed, it doesn't pay as well as you expect.  So I went to work for the state government.

    Board members: https://www.ncarb.org/about/board-directors. 

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    Michael Riscica

    Brandon, 

    I've also contacted many different State Boards about the software issues on NCARB's ARE 5.0 software. I'd like to chat with you further.

    Will you email me. Mikeriscica@gmail.com 

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    Victoria Shingleton

    Something similar happened with me today with PPD. Everything was going smoothly - I had already answered all questions and was just reviewing my answers, and then suddenly a notification popped up that read, "Program Failure." YIKES! Not something you want to see while taking an exam! I called in the Prometric staff member who was very calm and nice. I asked her if this was bad, and she said no, nothing to be worried about (how can you not be worried after taking a 120 question test and then reading Program Failure and having someone hard close the program and reboot the computer before you were able to submit?!?!?!). She rebooted the computer three or four times before deciding it would be best to switch me to a different station. The only positive in this is that she let me go to the bathroom while she was on hold with Prometric trying to move my test to a different machine. After around 25 minutes, I was set up on a new computer. The good news is that I guess your answers are saved to the server while you take the test so they can move you to another station when this happens. It picked up where I left off, but I didn't have enough time to check my answers to make sure they were the same and frankly I just didn't care anymore at that point.

    Luckily for me, this happened at the end of my test. And the 25 minutes I spent waiting for my station to be reloaded was AGONIZING. My stomach just dropped. Had it been halfway through my test, it would've totally messed with my mindset. Heck, I was almost done and I went in and just checked a few things to make sure my answers looked like they were and then clicked, "End Exam," I was so drained.


    The Prometric staff was very nice. She told me that she recorded the error and took that station out of service. She said the error is recorded with Prometric and NCARB, and I'm welcome to pursue it with them further if I want. I'm not going to pursue it just because I don't think it's worth my effort, especially seeing how when other people do pursue it, NCARB takes forever to get back and then says, "Yeah, nah, it's good."

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    Jesse Damrow (Edited )

    Thanks for the feedback, it is more than I have received from NCARB that's for sure. I am at peace with the exam software crashing mid exam....I understand this happens from time to time and is very unfortunate. What I cannot accept is questions where the options are not selectable, essentially rendering the question unanswerable. Not holding my breath for a response.....I hope they get that sorted out however. 

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    Andrew Kim

    I'm not sure how common the software issues are, but if my experience today is any indication, the software is not very good. Took my first test today (PcM) and the system logged out 4 or 5 times in the first 30 minutes. It really threw off my rhythm. The Prometric staff was trying to be helpful and moved me to another terminal while they were on the phone with NCARB. But not much more they could do. It'd be good to know how much the clock is still running while the issues are taking place because I had to rush through the last 5 or so questions to finish, basically making educated guesses. Hopefully this is just a one-off and others aren't experiencing something similar.  

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    Brandon Estes

    HAHA!  I am laughing because this is not a "one-off" - this is inherent in the 5.0 exam software.  It has been from the start, NCARB knows all about it, but they won't acknowledge nor fix it.  I took a PDD exam on Monday and some of the drag-drop questions wouldn't allow me to drag drop - shocker... I didn't bother to report it because I think the exams are intentionally designed with these flaws.  I take PPD again on Friday and I expect the same issues.

    I failed PDD on Monday and if I fail PPD this Friday (which I hope I do, otherwise I have to try to pass PDD again), I am done.  I have already boxed up all my study materials and I am going to donate most of my books.  I already feel a weight lifted from my shoulders.  

    I have taken PDD three times now and this Friday will be three times for PPD.  Pass rates are dismal and the software is laughable.  I refuse to contribute another $230 towards NCARB's executive staff's Benz payments.  The system is a boondoggle, NCARB is a joke, the profession is imploding, and the small handful of architects that control the discipline (board members/exec's at AIA, NCARB, NAAB) don't want to make changes because that means competition.  Competition means less $$ for them.  Monopolies are great for the people at the top.   The previous Chair of the NCARB board, David Hoffman, left his post to make room for a female board member (no people of color on the board, nobody that's not a senior citizen, test-takers still not represented).  Where did David go?  Oh, he's down the street on the Board of NAAB now.

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