Test crash dummies: Pearson VUE broke half-way into all-day exam

Trainees spent months prepping for web assessment... that fell over hours in

By Simon Sharwood


Imagine you'd just spent 18 months of your life working towards a big certification exam that could make or break your career and, come the big day, the web-hosted test fell over.

Well, for some newbie docs, that nightmare scenario today became all too real: blundering online exam provider Pearson VUE went TITSUP* during a day-long examination in Australia, kicking students out of the system.

The computer-based test in question was the Divisional Written Exam, administered by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) to assess whether trainee doctors are fit to embark on studies to become medical specialists. A prestigious and lucrative career beckons those who pass, which makes it an infamously stressful test to sit.

And doubly so when, as the college reported: "An unknown technical fault left a significant number of candidates locked out of the computer-based system and unable to complete the second part of the examination after their scheduled break today." Confusion reigned at Pearson's Sydney testing rooms as some candidates were able to continue, but others could not, and exam hygiene disintegrated.

Attempts to restart the examination failed, and the test was called off. Students will be able to sit the test again on March 2.

The failure has gone down like a lead balloon in Australia's medical community.

As plenty of IT pros use Pearson VUE for certification exams, we asked the outfit if it could reveal the reason for the crash, the nature of the fault that caused it, and whether similar disruptions have impacted information technology tests.

The company's representatives told us the college had asked it not to comment. Our questions about the state of Pearson VUE's platform met with the same response.

The RACP has advised its members that Pearson VUE will provide a report "within 24 hours" and The Register will attempt to obtain a copy to shed light on this outage and its potential impact on our readers.

Pearson VUE has form with foul-ups: the biz leaked candidates' personal data in 2015. ®

*Total inability To Surmise Undergraduate Prowess

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