The following is the top 10 list from Penny Vernon, who runs Candidate Care in NASBA for more than 10 years. She is the person to go to if a candidate has issues at the prometric center. It’s not good to ever need to talk to her, but her advice is very invaluable to exam candidates.
Penny’s List of Pitfalls at the Prometric CPA Exam
1. Exiting Out of the Exam Prematurely
You may laugh at those who made this mistake, but it happened quite a few times.
If you’ve tried one of those practice questions that simulates the real testing environment, you will notice an “exit” button on the screen. For obvious reason, you are never to touch this button unless you are done with the testlet.
If you accidentally click on it, the system prompts:
You have not answered all questions in this testlet. Are you sure you want to leave this testlet?”
Things get back to normal if you click “no”.
The issue arises when the candidate becomes panicky and press “yes”. The system gives you one more chance by showing the review mode of the questions. If you click “Review Testlet” , then you can still return to the testlet.
Otherwise, the system follows the instruction and ends the exam. In this case, you have no choice but to retake the exam at your own expense, that is, to pay for a new NTS, wait for the next window, and retake.
2. Rescheduling Appointments
Another common problem is that the candidate reschedules the exam and when he shows up on the rescheduled date, the prometric center doesn’t have his record. What a nightmare.
According to Penny, it is due to candidates’ own carelessness in most cases. To prevent this from happening, do this:
- Complete the rescheduling process. The appointment reschedule does not take effect until after the candidate gets to the “Reschedule Appointment: Appointment Complete” screen.
- Always check if you receive the email confirmation once you reschedule. If you don’t receive the email, the system may not have captured the request.
- Double check whether the reschedule time and date, as well as other information, is correct.
3. Waiting to Schedule an Appointment
There are benefits to schedule at a later date, and some candidates make the appointment as late as they are almost ready to take the exam.
Waiting for too long increases the risk of prometric center getting full. In that case, you won’t be able to take the exam at all within the testing window. The risk increases substantially if you can’t take time off during weekdays. Friday and Saturday slots can fill up 2 months in advance in popular centers.
4. Timing Out in the Introductory Screens
Candidates are given 10 minutes to complete 3 introductory screens before the exam starts. If the candidates fail to go through the 3 screens, the exam will be terminated.
I’ve heard suggestions of using this 10 minutes to “brain dump” notes and formulas on the notepad. To me, this is a huge risk because the screen doesn’t display the time, and watches are not permitted on site. There is really on excuse to have the computer restarted.
5. Reporting Issues at the Testing Center
If there are computer glitches and difficulties encountered during the exam, you must report the issue to the proctor immediately. The staff may be able to solve your problem. I have readers who said they were able to reboot the computer for them.
6. Notifying NASBA
If the issue persists and you think it affects your exam performance, you should file an official compliant to NASBA’s Candidate Care Department within five business days of taking the exam. Leaving a comment in the survey or telling the proctor about the incident is not considered official.
7. Taking the Wrong NTS to the Testing Center
I have actual readers who got into this before. This may happen when candidates apply for multiple NTS (for different periods) or that they are keeping their old NTS records for whatever reason.
The proctor at the prometric center will never let you in with the wrong NTS, so please do triple-check that you bring the right one.
8. Forgetting to take the NTS to the Testing Center
Same situation as above. Check your NTS the day before, the night before and immediately before you leave.
9. Arriving Late
Traffic and almost any other reasons you can think of is unacceptable. This is the same for any other professional exams. The best way to avoid this is to make your way to the prometric center a few days before, ideally at the same time of the day to better estimate the traffic condition.
10. Going to the Wrong Testing Center
This is another silly mistake. Do make the effort to check out the prometric center before hand.
What Do We Learn from This?
Stupid mistakes are made when people freak out.
Don’t Take Chances
Don’t be smartypants and use that 10 minutes to brain dump your notes; don’t wait until the very end to schedule your exam. This is all common sense, but as we try to squeeze every second for more studying, we tend to take bigger risks than we normally would.
Getting the wrong NTS and going to the wrong centers are appalling mistakes, but they get on Penny’s top 10 list. As much as we are stressed out, stay calm and organized, and this will only do you good. Get mentally prepared so you can perform at your best.
Presentation from Penny on the Same Topic
This presentation was organized by PA Institute of CPAs in 2014.
For Your Further Reading