On NCARBs latest emails regarding exam cancellations

Updated: Apr 23, 2020

A day and a half ago we received two emails from NCARB. They were both aggravating. Yes, Prometric cancelling 50 percent of appointments is a measure to maintain social distancing, but NCARB showed zero compassion for the stress that this is causing to the ARE candidates. As if we didn’t have enough already on the plate being afraid for our families, jobs, existence. In this post I would like to analyze what they did wrong, what they could have done better, and what we can do to mitigate the situation for ourselves.

Here are things that I think are really messed up on their part: First email: “You will be receiving a communication from Prometric in the next week or so informing you that your appointment has been cancelled.” Next week or so? Why not now? Why not a very specific date? How am I supposed to know if I am safe from cancellation or not? You’re basically saying it’s okay to ditch someone a week prior to their test! That’s just cruel. Keep on reading.

“Take Control – Reschedule Now… Reschedule your appointment for a time in late-summer or early-fall to avoid further disruption.” Is this supposed to make someone feel better?

“If you do not reschedule on your own, your ability to log into your NCARB record and reschedule this appointment will be delayed up to four weeks due to a backlog at Prometric.” Okay, this one made me really upset. What kind of deal does NCARB have with Prometric to be saying such threat sounding nonsense? This sounds like an ultimatum. If we start rescheduling now, how come Prometric won’t get backlogged, but if we don’t reschedule then Prometric will get backlogged? What kind of nonsense is this? What do you mean by a backlog? This is 2020, not 1960!

“NCARB will reset your exam eligibility for the canceled appointment after being notified by Prometric.” Excuse me, when will that be, by December – maybe? Can you give us a time frame?

“Prometric’s Test Center Closures List provides an up-to-date list of all locations closed past May 1, 2020” Nice, I see that some locations in NC are closed until April 30th, but I don’t see my location at all…

“Combined extension totaling nine months have been applied to all division scores that are valid as of March 1, 2020…..” Fake news, I just checked my NCARB portal, and all I see is 3-month extension on the rolling clock and 3-month extension on division scores. I can only imagine how difficult this is for people that have less than a year on their rolling clock… Again, no sympathy from NCARB. Second email:

“Schedule future appointments for this fall or early winter to avoid future disruption.” Wait, didn’t you say late summer, early winter in the previous email? Again, NCARB is being helpful as ever.

The rest is kind of same like the previous email.

Now that I am reading those emails again, it’s really their lack of empathy that makes me upset. With no word did they acknowledge how stressful this covid-19 situation has been, nor did they say that they feel sorry for cancelling on us LAST MINUTE. Here are a few things that they should have done:

They could have said something like “We understand that this is stressful for all, and we appreciate your patience while we are hammering this out with Prometric. Your health is important, and we want to make sure that we do everything we can to help you stay healthy and remain on track with your studying. We are also providing extra personnel to our (actually helpful) customer service that is here to help you and answer any questions you might have.”

On April 1st they should have cancelled half of the May appointments. They sent us an email talking about this cancellation long time ago. Why wait with cancellations until week before? A month in advance notice would have been much less stress inducing, and less time would have been lost due to the famous Prometric backlog, whatever that is.

On May 1st they should cancel half of the June appointments. If you’re like me, and have your appointment scheduled in May or June, here’s a few scenarios that I can think of:

Indeed, most of these aren't great, but truthfully, realistically, you will be okay if you have to take your exam later this year, even if in December. I know this is a major disruption, and it’s not something that anyone of us had hoped, but it could have been worse. As long as you are healthy, you can pull off anything. I entirely agree that NCARB has done a lot to make this harder for us than it should be. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should let the initial aggravation turn into despair, panic and self-doubt. Take this situation as an opportunity to prove to yourself that you can really be the boss of your time. Please don’t think that you will “forget everything” if your appointment gets cancelled. That’s the same as saying “If I had to retake one of the tests that I passed already, I would probably fail.” Is that really so? Would you now fail a test that you had passed already? Don’t be so harsh on yourself. You are stronger than you think. If you put in honest, good work, you have nothing to be afraid of. Don’t cram, ever. If you study and your appointment gets cancelled, take a day or two to recover from the stress, and then get back to studying just as hard and diligent. Study until you cover everything that the test requires, do practice questions and all the jazz. In the meantime, depending on how long you need to wait to take the test, look into another exam or finally get back to your favorite hobby or pastime, or work on your portfolio. Then, perhaps two weeks prior to the test, revise everything again. If you studied the right way, things will quickly come back to you. It should be like riding a bike. The week prior the test do practice questions and mental prep. Boom, crush the test, level up.

I think it wouldn’t do you much good to keep studying just as hard during the time between cancelled and rescheduled test. I don’t think that would significantly increase your chances of passing that particular test. Plus, you will burn out, and that’s the last thing you need right now. I am sure it has happened to some of you as well, but prior to almost every test I tend to think “Oh I wish I had X more days to really polish things up some more.” Now you have the chance to give yourself those X days, but not more! And yes, it’s possible to pass a test even without that level of “polish”.

So let’s summarize the strategy for dealing with delayed exams:

Step 1: Know that things will be okay. This is about you, not about NCARB or Prometric. Know that there are more people in the same boat. As cliché as it is – Keep calm and carry on. Step 2: If your mind needs it, take a day or two of break. Not more. You want to recover from the shock/stress of cancellation without losing momentum. Step 3: Resist the temptation to stop studying all together. If you abruptly stop studying for your test, it will probably be more difficult to pick up all loose threads later on. Step 4: Study as diligently as if you were to make the original appointment. Add a few more days as needed, but do not go overboard. You will burn out that way. Remember, this is a marathon. Be wise with how you distribute your tempo. Step 5: Bring your prep to a closure. That includes practice questions and practice exams. Step 6: Look into other exams / Spend more quality time with your loved ones / Organize zoom Happy Hour / Invest time in your hobbies and other ways of personal development / Depending on how far down the road your exam is, do weekly check ins with yourself and/or peers to help you remain in sync with what you studied. Step 7: As you get close to your exam date, revise everything you had done previously. At this point, you will really appreciate that you don’t need to actually learn anything new, because you have done that already. You will simply revise what you already know. That will help you be way more relaxed, and things will fall into the right place. Step 8: Invest time into mental prep and getting yourself to be cool with whatever happens. Step 9: Crush the test!

As you can see, this is completely doable. Don’t forget that we have each other. Seek advice and help from your peers who are in the same boat or further down the road. Don’t let the NCARB induced anger get you to the Dark side. Be persistent. Believe in yourself, believe that you are stronger than any obstacle that the world throws at you.

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