RACP left waiting for system failure report by IT supplier

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RACP left waiting for system failure report by IT supplier

As Pearson Vue blames failure on system set-up.

The Royal Australian College of Physicians has been left waiting for a root cause analysis report on the failure of a critical online exam for trainee doctors that was meant to arrive two days ago.

The medical college had been promised by the system's provider, Pearson Vue, that a report on the failure would be provided by Wednesday.

However the report is yet to arrive, and the RACP has been given no indication of when it might appear.

"Despite requesting a root cause analysis from Pearson Vue over 72 hours ago, we are yet to receive it," a spokesperson said, and there was no detail on when the report was likely to arrive.

Pearson Vue declined to respond to the claims of delay.

However, in comments to iTnews it blamed the "unfortunate issue" with the "set-up" of the exam system.

"While our team acted promptly to resolve the issue, not all test centres were able to implement the fix. After exploring all options, the RACP made the decision to call off the exam and provided candidates a new testing date," a spokesperson told iTnews.

"We acknowledge the disappointing experience and retesting disruption for RACP candidates, and do sincerely apologise for any stress and inconvenience this has caused.”

It did not clarify who was responsible for the set-up of the system, nor the specific failure point.

The Pearson Vue report is expected to outline what went wrong when "distraught" trainee doctors were locked out of the computer-based test and unable to complete the second part of the exam on Monday. 

The RACP basic division written exam is the gateway for trainee doctors to enter a specialist practice in either adult internal medicine or paediatrics and child health at the end of their first four years of training.

Students spend up to two years studying for the exam, which costs at least $1800. It has been described as the hardest exam in a trainee doctor's life. This year was the first time the test had been provided online.

Fairfax Media on Tuesday reported the RACP had been warned by registrars about potential issues with the Pearson Vue software.

Following the failure the RACP decided to void all results from the exam and reschedule it for March 2, this time on paper.

But many students schedule holidays or family events following the high-stakes exam, and similarly may struggle to find the extra cash to complete another $1800 exam.

The RACP has therefore opted to make the replacement exam free of charge, and will arrange for those who can't make the March 2 test to sit it on another date.

It has also publicly released all the questions from Monday's exam "to ensure no one is placed at a disadvantage".

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