Back in July after I took my PA exam, I posted here about my experience of how the exam expired when there was still 10 minutes left on the clock. I reported it to NCARB but since there was no other documentation of the incident (I foolishly did not notify the testing center staff), NCARB's response was basically "oh well." Fortunately I passed that exam and just moved on, and nothing came of it.
Yesterday (Oct 15) I took the PPD exam. The same exact thing happened! Because it happened before, I was very mindful of it this time. At the start of the exam, the clock showed 4:15 remaining (what's allotted for PPD) and began it's countdown. The clock paused during my break then continued when I resumed the exam, as expected. As I'm nearing the end of the exam and I still have maybe a dozen questions left to go, the message pops up that I have 10 minutes left before the exam expires. I click OK on the message, but then it immediately takes me to the post-exam survey, with the actual exam no longer available to finish. This time I notified the test center staff, they witnessed what I saw and said they would document the incident. Preliminary feedback told me I failed the PPD.
I already submitted this to NCARB and await their response. They say due to an influx of e-mails regarding coronavirus, it'll take them a while to get back to me.
My questions is, has this not happened to anyone else?? I've taken 2 exams to date, and this problem happened BOTH times! Not even to mention the program crashed and I had to switch workstations TWICE in the middle of the exam. When I talk to my colleagues who are also taking the AREs, I'm learning that technical software issues is a very common occurrence in these exams. Some of them told of quite nightmarish experiences, like having to start the exam all over again from the beginning.
Dear NCARB, WTF? Who created your exam software? The lowest bidder? Did you not pay them extra to actually test the software before rolling it out? The expectations NCARB places on candidates are very high, from the integrity required, all the hours of exam prep, the marathon length of the exams and the sheer number of them we have to pass to get licensed, all the money we have to spend on study materials and fee to sit an exam, the work days we have to take off, and yet NCARB doesn't seem to show the same level of dedication in providing exam software that simply just works? I mean the SATs work. The GREs work. But NCARB? Nah. And NCARB has the nerve to talk about fairness and consistent exam experiences.
We're getting a bunch of exam changes come Nov 16. How can we have any amount of confidence that there won't be bugs? How can I be confident that these exams are even being scored correctly, given that they can't get a simple thing like the exam clock right?
I figure NCARB will give me exam seat credits to retake PPD, but after my Oct 30 wedding + honeymoon, my retake will probably be a different experience with the new changes (no scratch paper, no revisiting old questions after breaks).
I truly believe the biggest hindrance to candidates taking the AREs now is NCARB itself.
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