Passed CCNA - but nightmare experience

Unanswered Question
Apr 3rd, 2009

First the good news, I passed my CCNA exam today. The testing experience however, was a nightmare.

The very first question was a simlet lab, and all the windows opened up in a minimized state - I had to click to drag & expand the windows to be able to read them. But the real problem was the console sim window, it wouldn't expand at all. So for instance, if you issued a show command, the right hand side would be cut off with no way to see it, and no scroll bars.

At this point I started to feel stressed and called in the test administrator for help. She suggested that it was probably supposed to look like that, and not to worry about it. After taking a deep breath and unclenching my teeth I explained to her that was impossible, as I couldn't see all the information I needed to answer the question. So she called Pearson Vue.

They were able to fix the problem by remote controlling the machine and reinstalling flash, and possibly some other component. After all was said and done, I was back in my seat at the first question and just over 60 minutes left on the clock!

Being worried about not having enough time, I asked the administrator if there was anything she could do. After talking to Pearson again, she was able to reset the time.

So feeling somewhat frazzled I sat down and tried again. I got just over half way through and was on another sim question, when the computer just froze up. Couldn't type, move windows, or click anything. A moment later an error message popped up on the screen. So I talked to the admin again, found out that some other server crashed...had to wait for that to come back up, then she had to reboot the test machine, restart the test...etc etc etc

FINALLY managed to get through the rest of the test without problems.

In talking to the administrator afterward, she says that this isn't all that unusual, and she was surprised that she was even able to get through to Pearson/Vue on the phone in less than 45 minutes.

Has anyone else had these sorts of experiences? It seems to me that Pearson/Vue is doing a lousy job of something that is very important to a lot of people. Events like this seriously elevate people's stress levels - when you're probably already under considerable exam pressure to begin with!

I have this problem too.
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jcrussell Fri, 04/03/2009 - 17:04

The only time I have ever had a problem was when the local test center decided to upgrade their computer lab at 9:00 on a business day. I came in at 15:00 for a test, and they were still having issues. So that wasn't even Vue's fault.

In short, I have taken about 20 Cisco exams at Vue and back when Prometric offered them, and have never had an issue that wasn't caused by the local test center.

coolmike2 Sat, 04/04/2009 - 19:30

I have to say i wasn't thrilled with my experience although it wasn't nearly as bad as yours. I was in a very small room and there were 2 other testers in there. Thought maybe i would be all alone. Oh well. I do not like the flash technology for these tests. Navigating the windows to see everything(i.e. to look back at question while in a simlet etc.) is not great. I think the screen was no bigger than a 17". I think there is a lot of room for improvement. Congratulations on your passing the exam.

tperrier Mon, 04/06/2009 - 00:20

Like James I've passed a lot of exams (19 so far) at Prometric then Vue, mostly Cisco stuff, and never had a single problem (actually the only problem I had during a Cisco exam was with a CCIE lab backbone router, of all things!).

But a colleague of mine failed his BSCI back in January in part because of the sims which didn't work correctly (the router console was unusable, and the test center admin couldn't do anything). So problems can happen, but in my experience that's uncommon.

bhughes1975 Mon, 04/06/2009 - 12:19

I had an even worse experience, none of the sims would bring up the console computer, just a grey box, so I could not access any of the sim devices, I ended up failing with a 795, which considering I could not do the two sim questions tells me I was doing pretty good, now I have to wait for the pearson vue techs to go thru the exam and I have to go re-write the thing. After spending so long preparing for the exam it sucks to have to keep studying and be at the mercy of pearson vue for a re-write. If you are getting charged $250 usd for the exam you really should feel assured the stuff is going to work.

michael.xq.zhan... Tue, 04/14/2009 - 04:15

I have a very similar experience with my CCNA test too. I think there are lot of rooms to improve. The way the test presents sucks. I spent so much efforts dealing with the tiny Windows and scroll up and down just to see. People easily get nervous and could hardly focus on the knowledge they have if they have to mess with the 15" tiny monitors with even tiny windows within it.

pipemajor Tue, 04/21/2009 - 08:50

I passed the old INTRO exam 640-821 a couple of summers ago and it was not a pleasant experience. First, it took the test administrator FOUR tries using different PCs before the exam could even load.

Then, about 1/3 of the way through the exam, the PC crashed. Wouldn't respond at all. I called the test administrator and he had to reboot the machine. Luckily, the clock started where it had left off.

I've failed the ICND exam twice and have a had a real problem reading the diagrams on very fuzzy CRT monitors. Everyone uses LCD panels these days - why don't the test centers?

Oh well, my INTRO exam will expire in a few months so I'm starting over and restudying the new ICND1 material (640-822). Gone through the entire book and will start the practice questions and review. Hope to take the newer exam within a few weeks. I have the time now - I was laid off 3 weeks ago...

ccbootcamp Fri, 04/24/2009 - 07:30

There are other people having issues with the CCNA sim as well. I know someone who recently went to take his CCNA and got TOTALLY screwed because the SIM wouldnt let him have console access to the devices - so he had to SKIP the question completely!!! He then failed his exam by a mere 50 points.

jonathanchee Sun, 06/07/2009 - 02:07

I unfortunately have had a similar problem. I just took my test, didn't pass, but during my test it errored twice with a time sync problem. Both times I had to go and get the proctor, who wasn't even watching me, from another room. In any case, in both instances I lost time on my test, roughly 10-15 min. I don't see why there should be any problems especially when these testing centers are getting paid. I agree with everybody else in that they should be upgrading ALL of the test center equipment, as well as the SERVERS THEY USE.

Does anybody know how to contest a test you've taken. I can't see how a tester can be penalized for a testing center's problems and as a result affect the outcome of the test. Shouldn't everybody be given a fair chance at the test?

dexterism Thu, 10/08/2009 - 02:27

i had the exact same problem, twice (on both my first and second try)! except mine was VERY weird.

in both cases, when the sim question appeared, i was shown the console prompt with the "press any key to start" or smthng similiar. I pressed ENTER and the test skipped 3 questions!!


TheOneSolo Thu, 10/08/2009 - 10:14

@ zustation

Congratulations on passing your exam. Sorry to hear that you and many others have gone through nightmarish experiences taking the exam. Hopefully, my friends and I wont have such troubles while taking ours in four months.

These test centers really need to get with the times, and upgrade their technology.

michael.xq.zhan... Thu, 10/08/2009 - 11:23

I have a better way to express my feeling toward the test: You have two eyes to study and learn your material.But when it comes to test, you have to close one eye and leave the other eye half way closed. That way, you cannot focus on your knowledge. You need to focus how to navigate through because the equipment and the monitor sucks. It even flickers.... I will take my ccnp soon. Good luck to me!

Andres.J.Martinez Sun, 10/11/2009 - 05:08

I thought the exams were java based? In any case, I have heard of several horror stories just like yours. It's enough you are already nervous going into the exam, but to have something like that happen to you, I know you were "freaking out". I did experience some difficulties within the terminal in several simlets throughout my ccna and ccna security test. If I scrolled up and down to many times, the lettering within the terminal would get scrambled/jumbled.


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