Dec 5, 2013
1
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Hello everyone - long time lurker, first time posting, but I really would appreciate some input from you all. Sorry for the long post, but this is kind of a crazy story (or at least I think it is).

So - last week I went to take my Step 1 exam and a few questions into my first block I get a question that is associated with an image. As I look at the image, I realize that my image is extremely distorted to the point that it basically resembles abstract art (I'm not kidding - I cannot even try to explain what I was looking at - it was a pixelated, weird mess). In other words, I could not even tell you what I was supposed to be looking at. Obviously, my first thought is that I am so nervous that my vision is distorted so I take some deep breaths, clean off my glasses, leave the question and come back, try to magnify it and I invert the colors just to see if that would help. Nothing works and I notice I've already wasted significant time so I pick a random answer and move on and within another few questions I get another question associated with an image and again it is so distorted that I do not know what I'm looking at. At this point, I start to think that something is wrong with the computer itself so I look around for a prometric staff member to help, but I don't see anyone walking around. When I look through the window to the front, I notice that the staff member is busy checking people in so they won't even notice if I raise my hand. By this time I have wasted so much time trying to deal with these technical errors that I do not want to waste more time finding a staff member to help and I try to get through the rest of the block that contains even MORE messed up questions (probably 4-5 in total). With about 10 questions remaining, I have very little time left so I just reading and answering the questions as fast as I can without much thought thinking that a semi-educated guess is better than a blank answer.

After the block is over, I go to alert the Prometric staff. They go to check my computer and come back to tell me they agree that there is something "off" with the graphics and they can offer me a new computer. At this point, I'm at a loss for words and I just ask what can be done about all the questions I couldn't see and the time I lost trying to fix the problem. The Prometric staff apologizes and says they'll submit a report on my behalf, but they say I have to keep going with the test. Thinking I have no other option, I get on the new computer while I'm literally SHAKING and I start on section 2 while I'm praying that the images are fixed. Thankfully, I had no more technical problems, but I was so worried about the problems returning that I could barely focus for the rest of the block. To say that the whole experience messed with my head would be an understatement.

After the exam was over I noted the graphics problems in my post test survey and I asked the Prometric center again what my options were in regards to the distorted questions and lost time and they said the only thing they could do was submit a report on my behalf and "the NBME would probably drop the questions", but the staff did not seem to confident in their answers. I asked for a reference number from this report they claim they submitted, but they said they couldn't provide me with anything.

At this point I feel physically ill thinking about what happened during my test. Best case scenario, I only severely screwed up my first block - worst case scenario, I was so nervous for the rest of the exam that I underperformed in a major way.

Do any of you have any experience or know anyone who dealt with major technical problems on test day? I tried searching old SDN threads, but any mention of technical problems and NBME response are from the mid 2000s. Any advice or antidotal stories you can provide while I figure out this mess will be greatly appreciated! Thank you for listening....
 

dermpathdoc

DO Path
10+ Year Member
Aug 24, 2005
477
10
Pacific Northwest
Status
Attending Physician
You should be reporting the problem to your school, first of all and letting them know the issue was not solved by the Prometric staff. secondly you should be contacting the NBME help line concerning the , there is a phone number and/or email for problems with testing. you should have done that the day you finished the exam.
Hello everyone - long time lurker, first time posting, but I really would appreciate some input from you all. Sorry for the long post, but this is kind of a crazy story (or at least I think it is).

So - last week I went to take my Step 1 exam and a few questions into my first block I get a question that is associated with an image. As I look at the image, I realize that my image is extremely distorted to the point that it basically resembles abstract art (I'm not kidding - I cannot even try to explain what I was looking at - it was a pixelated, weird mess). In other words, I could not even tell you what I was supposed to be looking at. Obviously, my first thought is that I am so nervous that my vision is distorted so I take some deep breaths, clean off my glasses, leave the question and come back, try to magnify it and I invert the colors just to see if that would help. Nothing works and I notice I've already wasted significant time so I pick a random answer and move on and within another few questions I get another question associated with an image and again it is so distorted that I do not know what I'm looking at. At this point, I start to think that something is wrong with the computer itself so I look around for a prometric staff member to help, but I don't see anyone walking around. When I look through the window to the front, I notice that the staff member is busy checking people in so they won't even notice if I raise my hand. By this time I have wasted so much time trying to deal with these technical errors that I do not want to waste more time finding a staff member to help and I try to get through the rest of the block that contains even MORE messed up questions (probably 4-5 in total). With about 10 questions remaining, I have very little time left so I just reading and answering the questions as fast as I can without much thought thinking that a semi-educated guess is better than a blank answer.

After the block is over, I go to alert the Prometric staff. They go to check my computer and come back to tell me they agree that there is something "off" with the graphics and they can offer me a new computer. At this point, I'm at a loss for words and I just ask what can be done about all the questions I couldn't see and the time I lost trying to fix the problem. The Prometric staff apologizes and says they'll submit a report on my behalf, but they say I have to keep going with the test. Thinking I have no other option, I get on the new computer while I'm literally SHAKING and I start on section 2 while I'm praying that the images are fixed. Thankfully, I had no more technical problems, but I was so worried about the problems returning that I could barely focus for the rest of the block. To say that the whole experience messed with my head would be an understatement.

After the exam was over I noted the graphics problems in my post test survey and I asked the Prometric center again what my options were in regards to the distorted questions and lost time and they said the only thing they could do was submit a report on my behalf and "the NBME would probably drop the questions", but the staff did not seem to confident in their answers. I asked for a reference number from this report they claim they submitted, but they said they couldn't provide me with anything.

At this point I feel physically ill thinking about what happened during my test. Best case scenario, I only severely screwed up my first block - worst case scenario, I was so nervous for the rest of the exam that I underperformed in a major way.

Do any of you have any experience or know anyone who dealt with major technical problems on test day? I tried searching old SDN threads, but any mention of technical problems and NBME response are from the mid 2000s. Any advice or antidotal stories you can provide while I figure out this mess will be greatly appreciated! Thank you for listening....