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The Worst Exam

Today I sat the worst exam I’ve ever taken.

I don’t mean it was hard. It was actually pretty straightforward – an hour to do 60 multiple choice questions. In the end it took me half an hour, and a large chunk of that was double-checking my answers. Simple as it was once I entered the room, getting to that point was ridiculously painful. This was the most disorganised examination I have ever seen.

I first sent in an application form in early May. 10 days later I had an email back to confirm the cost and date, and say they would be in touch soon about payment. In mid-July, having heard nothing more, I sent another email to find out what was happening. I got an apologetic note back to say they were dealing with a backlog and would take payment that day. They did indeed take payment only one day later, but I only got to hear about it because our administrator let me know.

Then I heard nothing. Nothing about where the exam was, or when. At the start of last week, when all I knew was that the exam was today and in London (probably not enough detail to be useful), I sent them another email to ask if I could please have some joining instructions, maybe?

On Friday they finally sent me the time and location, along with an order form for a study guide. Helpful, with two days of weekend to go…

That wasn’t the end of the pain, though. I arrived at the site, a large imposing building belonging to the University of Westminster, and one of the university’s staff directed me to where I should wait with the other candidates. At about 5 minutes past the time we’d been told we absolutely had to turn up by, a diffident chap identified by a small badge came over to the edge of the large group of people waiting for the exam and quietly asked the girl sitting next to me if she was waiting for the exam. When she said yes, he mentioned a room number and said she should go on upstairs. She stood up and I followed, and the rest of the group started moving as a result. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see any stairs or any signs to same. With that special herd mentality, we started following someone across the foyer and down a hallway, before eventually finding a block of lifts. The guy we were following pushed a button and got into one, then took off without waiting for anyone else, which I thought was rude. About half of the group, including myself, decided to take the stairs to the second floor rather than wait for a lift. Which was when we discovered that the second floor of the part of the building we were in consisted entirely of offices, with no visible way through to any other area. There were about 30 people milling around in a tiny corridor thing at the top of the stairs at this point, and that’s when I realised that the guy we were following earlier was probably a student…

Three of us decided at this point to retrace our steps and see if we could find someone to tell us where the room was. We got back to the reception area and found a small, nondescript sign indicating that the way to our exam was via a tiny 6-man lift on the other side of the building. Two of us got in, along with some stragglers who’d only just arrived, while the other guy volunteered to go back and find the rest of the group.

Finally, we made it up to the right corridor. There were two rooms, and we were being split alphabetically. It was only when I got to the room I was directed to and checked the list on the door that I discovered one final fuck-up – the chap telling us where to go had got the rooms mixed up and was sending everyone to the wrong one.

Basically, it was a total shower. I’ve never seen such a terrible piece of planning from start to finish. You know what really makes it special, though? The exam I was sitting was a certificate in Project Management, and the provider was the Association of Project Managers.

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