/ My experience below, but skip down if you want /
Monday I was taking my second attempt at PPD. With just 1 case study set of questions to go, the internet at Prometric slowed way down and I could not open any reference material for the case study. I made my testing proctor aware and she had to restart my computer a few times. Eventually, she had to call someone else in the building to check on the internet connection because even her internet connection was slow. Someone else in the room was also taking the same test and had issues at the same time as me. It seemed like the NCARB tests were the only ones having issues during this time.
After about 30 minutes of waiting and being told they could not do anything about the internet, she restarted my computer again and it still would not load case study information. She let me know that with these issues out of my control, she will write up an official report and I should be able to get a free credit to retake this exam. So I decided it was in my best interest to attempt to take guesses at any of the multiple choice information and blindly throw random numbers into the fill in the blank answers. The questions that ask you to click on the image with the red crosshair would not load though, so 2 of these I could not answer. I then took a gamble at reviewing my marked questions and my screen went white, then black. My proctor came back in and tried to restart. Screen stayed black. I started getting very emotional, not knowing if I’d even be able to submit what I had started. She tried one more thing and was able to move me to a different computer station where my screen came up. While this is happening, the other girl in the room had to be moved to 3 different computers before she could get her screen back.
I was too nervous to click anything but “end exam” because I did not know if it would cooperate with me so I choose to not review any of my flagged/marked questions. I clicked yes to view preliminary results and I had failed. I grabbed my ticket from Prometric with who to call about rescheduling. Prometric and NCARB were able to get me free seat credit the next day.
BUT what I learned after talking with an ARE Specialist from NCARB a few times this week after these testing mishaps is the following:
-I have to wait 60 days to retake this exam, even with all the testing center issues. Just as if someone who had no issues and was able to complete all answers properly but still failed. It is to protect the integrity of the test. I understand this concern, but still hurts to hear when you were not able to properly finish the test.
- This counts as an official fail because I had seen a majority of the test. Majority was defined as seeing/answering more than 25% of the test. This is where I have an issue, there is nothing to protect us from this happening. This was my 2nd attempt and now I only have one more before waiting for that year-mark to hit.
-NCARB is able to see what you view and answers you click on your test. If for some reason you cannot get your testing screen to come back on and you cannot end your exam, they will still see what you have done. They see those clicks immediately. I was very concerned about submitting and in the moment of panic had no idea continuing to see more of the test was hindering the option for invalidating the test.
// The TLDR version //
I just wanted to make test takers aware of these testing centers issues that could arise during an exam and how it is treated by NCARB. Obviously no one knows a lot about these things until after it happens and has these kind of impacts on your path toward licensure.
Page 19 of the ARE Guidelines on NCARB’s website says “In the unlikely event that you experience 3 or more technical issues during the same administration, Prometric will give you the option to continue testing or end you exam administration and be rescheduled at no additional cost.”
While this reimbursement portion is accurate, there is nothing in this document that mentions that the test cannot be invalidated if you’ve taken more than 25% of it. This piece of information matters, no matter what, but especially if you are on your 2nd or 3rd attempt of a test. I only later learned that the test will be invalidated and not count as a fail toward your record only if you have taken less than 25% of the test when you had these 3 technical issues listed above. Anything above that will count as a fail to protect the integrity of the test. You also have to wait 60 days to retake.
It is concerning that as test takers, in an already stressful situation, we have to incur this risk while in the prometric facility that if there are testing issues we may not be able to finish the test and will receive an official fail if we have completed more than 25% of the test.
Right now NCARB has the following statistics on their website:
-10% of overall candidates having technical issues
-8% of onsite candidates having tech issues
-20% of online candidates having tech issues
I’ve read plenty of forums on here about testing center issues but had not seen one come up about how they affect your fails and the amount of time you have to wait. I had only seen discussions about people being concerned about reimbursement.
If this were to happen to me again and knowing this information, I would have not ended the test early. I would have tried to review and wait to see if the internet would be better even if it meant the proctor helping me out countless times. I had lost 30 minutes of test time watching my screen lag - seeing if case study IBC excerpts would load, trying to review flagged questions while it took 1-2 minutes to load just the question. I wish I had spent the last hour I still had trying to wait and see if the test would load since I would receive no support from anyone after the test was over.
I’m still very upset about this situation but wanted to make you all aware of what could happen with test center technical issues when they are extreme. Please let me know if anyone else has had this issue.
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