Breaking News

Lots happening in cyberspace these days… Time for an update.

First and foremost, in a post on their Facebook page yesterday, NCARB has announced that the ARE Scheduling Blackout, which has been in effect since June 30, is rapidly drawing to a close. Record data for more than 90,000 candidates – including name and contact information, candidate numbers, eligibility history, rolling clock information, and test history — has been migrated to NCARB’s new records management vendor, Alpine Testing Solutions. Although “My Examination” has not officially launched, ARE candidates can start scheduling exams (via the “My NCARB” button on the council’s website) while the new system continues to be tested. Any ARE candidates (particularly those of you in Pennsylvania) who are logging in to use the new system for the first time, I would appreciate it if you would drop me a line (or leave a comment) and let me know what you think of the new interface. (Not needing to take the exam means that I have no way of testing it out on my own…)

Secondly, NCARB will be hosting the latest installment of the ongoing “AIA Chat” series on Twitter next week. I had already made plans to join in, but since I have been officially called out by NCARB (which I found quite flattering), you can be sure that I will be making a guest appearance. The chat will take place Wednesday, September 4th at 2pm ET — be sure to follow along using the hashtag “#aiachat,” and feel free to join the conversation!

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Lastly, my Twitter spam has gotten much more creative. I got a really good chuckle out of the idea of an appearance in a Drake video — I knew those twerking lessons i bought on LivingSocial would come in handy!! (I’m long since done with IDP, but I imagine I’d receive a lifetime’s worth of Community Service hours by declining this particular request.)

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Happy Labor Day Weekend to all — enjoy the last few days of our waning summer! Back to the grind next week!

Blackout!

DCF 1.0

Toronto, Ontario, 2003 Blackout (from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

The blackout is nearly upon us… Are you ready? (As one of the exam candidates in AIA-Pittsburgh put it, “well, yes — I’ve stocked up on bottled water and canned goods…” Very funny, but remember, I do the entertaining here… anyhoo…)

It will take an estimated eight weeks to migrate record data from the former holder, Prometric, to Alpine Testing Solutions. Once the migration is complete and the blackout has ended, exam candidates will be able to schedule tests, monitor their exam history, and receive electronic score reports directly from NCARB’s website, using the “My Examination” portal. The test is long behind me, but I think that this will be a huge improvement to the system, and will greatly simplify the way candidates manage their exam process — gone will be the days of using an external site to schedule exams, and then waiting weeks to receive a score report via snail mail.  Nothing about the exam itself will change — Prometric will continue to administer the exam, using the same testing centers, and content will remain the same (rescheduling fees will be modified to follow a tiered structure… but none of you reschedule your tests, so that shouldn’t matter, right??). For more information, check out the details on NCARB’s website.

If that eight-week dry spell scares you, there’s still time to squeeze in one more exam — the last day to take an ARE division prior to the blackout is June 30. Candidates will be able to schedule exam appointments again in late August — in order to hit the ground running, be sure to review NCARB’s guide for testing post-blackout. And don’t forget about the new security measures that will be implemented by Prometric, which might add some time to that first appointment.

For those of you grumbling about how much of an inconvenience this will be for you, take my advice:  stop.  The end result will be a much more streamlined and comprehensive method for managing your testing.  As NALSA Publishing put it in a recent blast, NCARB is actually doing you a favor here. If you’re currently testing, maybe this is the incentive you need to take that next division, prior to the blackout (and if so, you should really think about scheduling that appointment RIGHTNOW!!). Then you can take the opportunity to prepare for your next exam — possibly one of the more difficult divisions? — in those eight weeks. If you’re planning to start testing, you can use those eight weeks to brush up on content and develop a testing strategy, decide which division to start off with, and gather study materials.  Or you could use the blackout period to… oh, I don’t know… take a vacation.  It is the summer, after all.  Just be sure to stock up on bottled water.

Security Blanket

On Friday, NCARB announced some new security procedures at Prometric testing centers, which will take effect after the Blackout ends in late August. Here’s a video preview…

Actually, I’m only kidding. You can’t take a guest with you into the testing center! They have to stay in the waiting room! Sheesh…

But seriously, folks, NCARB has announced that Prometric will be instituting a biometrically-enabled security system for their testing centers, which will have a small effect on ARE candidates. According to NCARB’s official press release, during your the first exam appointment after the blackout, candidates should expect to have their photo ID scanned, provide six digital fingertip swipes (three from each hand), and take a test-day photo (which wil be used to create a database of exam candidate identification information). Every subsequent appointment will involve a single finger swipe and photo session, for comparison to the record data. (I imagine that many of you have a great deal of practice in giving NCARB the finger, so this should be easy for you.) This is part of standard procedures at all Prometric facilities for any exam that they administer (for more information, check out their official video announcement. ); in our context, it will also help NCARB to ensure that the same person is actually taking each of the seven divisions.

All jokes aside, this is a significant improvement to security at Prometric’s facilities. Exam security is serious business, worthy of some pretty incredible measures… or, at least, some measures worthy of The Incredibles.

Some words to the wise — what this means to me is that you should arrive a little earlier for that first appointment, especially after a three-month break where everyone will be anxious to resume testing, so plan accordingly. Good luck, and remember – no capes! (You’ll just have to leave it in the locker with your other belongings, anyway…)