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Apparently No One Knows What the F*ck Is Going On at Prometric

Most if not all current CPA exam candidates know this but for the rest of you playing along at home, allow me to catch you up on the situation. So, when the Rona panic first started in March, Prometric shuttered every location across this great nation of ours (along with others, but cuz ‘Murica, we’re solely focusing on U.S.-based action here today) with a hope they’d reopen on April 16. Just days before the 16th, Prometric announced it would remain closed until May 1. Last week, Prometric pushed the grand reopening back even further until May 31; however, they announced that certain “essential services” would get the green light to test on May 1. Cue future CPAs everywhere asking “are we essential?!” The answer, as we now know, was yes … but with a caveat, it seems.

Per last week’s NASBA statement:

The CPA profession is considered an essential service. Prometric will resume testing for CPA candidates beginning May 1 at centers where government regulations and guidelines allow. Social distancing guidelines and other safety measures will be implemented. All candidates with May appointments will be contacted by Prometric to either confirm or cancel appointments, as necessary, either because of new social distancing requirements or because their test center is not yet reopening.

Upon hearing this news, my first thought was yikes, scheduling is going to be a nightmare. But hold on, we’ll get to that in a minute.

Prometric has announced a series of safety measures to at least try and mitigate the risk in their testing centers once they do reopen. They include:

  • Requiring all test takers to bring and wear a face mask during the entirety of their time at the test center. Both medical masks and cloth face coverings are acceptable. Any test taker that comes to the test center without a mask will not be allowed to test, marked as a “no show,” and will not be eligible for a free reschedule.
  • Permitting test takers to use gloves while they are testing. Please note items will be subject to visual inspection upon entry to the test center. For a full list of permissible items please check here.
  • Enforcing social distancing practices throughout the check-in and testing process.
  • Providing all Prometric test center staff with protective masks to help reduce the risk of infection.
  • Limiting points of physical contact between staff and test takers.
  • Providing a clear, easy-to-read list of expectations for conduct at the testing center.

Additionally, anyone who meets any of the following criteria will not be allowed to test:

  • Have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days;
  • Have been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days;
  • Are experiencing flu or cold-like symptoms; OR
  • Have returned from travel to a highly infected area in the last 14 days.

So that’s all good and necessary (especially the part about telling people with active Rona to kick rocks), but we have to keep in mind that CPA exam candidates aren’t the only ones using Prometric. According to their LinkedIn, Prometric administers 8 million tests a year for more than 300 organizations. I’m not sure how many of those are considered “essential” but we can at least assume CPA exam candidates will be competing with healthcare-related candidates for coveted testing center spots. So there’s that.

But there’s more. Shortly after NASBA announced that testing would resume May 1 for CPA exam candidates, candidates started reporting confusing emails regarding cancellations and difficulty rescheduling exams. Just check out this Twitter thread. Bonus points for the random guy complaining that accountants are taking seats away from medical professionals.

It seems the cancellation emails are causing some confusion, with candidates reporting that they’ve received both cancellation and confirmation emails for the same appointment.

I’m usually the first one to say y’all are overreacting and need to chill but yikes. What exactly is going on over at Prometric?

The confusion is undoubtedly justified. Sounds to me like Prometric needs to get a grip on whatever system is canceling appointments and spewing out emails to affected candidates.

Speaking of that system, as far as we’re aware, Prometric plans to operate at 50% capacity in order to maintain social distancing protocols once it does reopen and is randomly canceling appointments for testing centers with enough appointments scheduled to put it over capacity, according to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards which utilizes Prometric for its Architect Registration Examination. This information is confirmed by the Virginia Board of Accountancy. You’ll note in their COVID-19 update they specifically say Prometric plans to reduce testing capacity by at least 50%, meaning we shouldn’t be surprised if they choose to reduce it further if testing center space necessitates it due to social distancing guidelines.

For the time being, I guess just try to be patient (I know, that’s a big ask) and let’s all hope that The Powers That Be are able to work on their continuity in messaging. You guys deserve clarity here, but we should also keep in mind that this is all new to Prometric and surely they’re doing the best they can. I hope so, anyway.

As always, we’ll update you with any new information as we have it. If you have any information to share with your fellow CPA exam candidates, feel free to do so in the comments or use the contact information below to let us know what’s going on.