November 16, 2012 by Emedica
My test had been booked for September 26th. Then it was pushed back to October 2nd because I still didn’t feel ready.
I turned up to the Pearson Vue testing centre, 15:15 on October 2nd, feeling extremely nervous. One of my friends was also taking the test at the same time as me, so both of us were just encouraging each other and being there for moral support (and stopping the respective other from running out of the test centre). We’d both caught the bus straight from college, which took about an hour. We’d left some time to figure out where the test centre was and to grab a bite to eat.
Standing in line at the reception desk, we were behind others taking the UKCAT and some lucky(?) others who were taking their driving theory test instead. Finally, I got to the desk. A stern looking lady – as if to add to the nerves! – asked for my appointment confirmation. I handed it over, she said it was fine. She asked for my ID. I handed it over, she said it was unacceptable. What?!
I had a horrible sinking feeling in my stomach and my heart was pounding so loudly I could barely hear her. She pointed out that the passport had been issued before I was 16 so didn’t have my signature on, and I needed another form of ID to back it up. I didn’t have anything else. My provisional license had only recently been ordered so it was still in the post, and I don’t have any form of government issued ID. The lady hadn’t been very helpful, but a man that was also at the desk informed me that I could get a letter from my college confirming my identity and take the test another day if I could find another available slot. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed that it was issued before I was 16, how had I been so stupid?
My friend went into testing room one and, since I’d been turned away, I jumped on a bus back to college. On the journey, I had called my parents and let them know what had happened, called my academic coach to let her know what had happened and asked her if she could get a letter ready, and messaged my cousin asking her if she would be able to use my log in details for Pearson Vue and check if there were any available slots in the next few days. She checked the nearest 20 centres and there were no available slots.
Was this really happening? There was nowhere at all?
I got to college at 16:00, most other people were leaving but I ran straight to my coach’s office and she’d got the letter ready but I needed to get onto a computer and check if there were any slots anywhere. It didn’t matter where it was in the country or whether it was another country – I was looking at Wales and Scotland too – I just needed to get a slot. I was not going to let it slip though my fingers so easily. It was so close to the deadline, there were scarce places left and by the time I clicked on them, they would vanish and someone else would take the slot. People in the same position maybe? Who knows.
I was bordering on crying by this point. One of my friends had been walking past the office and had spotted me and came in to see what had happened. I wasn’t able to speak – I wanted to, I physically couldn’t – I was fixated on the monotonous click, click, click, that I had gotten used to. It was my only chance. My coach explained what was happening to her instead.
At last, I’d found a place! It was 110 miles away but it was a chance to take the test.
Yet another hurdle. I didn’t have my debit card on me nor my parents’ credit card and was unable to contact them. My friend, seeing how close I was, offered to let me use her card if I paid her back the next day. Thanking her profusely, selected the appointment, entered all the details required, clicked submit. I was met with an error message, reading:
“The candidate currently has an open registration. A new registration cannot be created at this time.”
I had got new ID. I had actually found a slot so close the deadline. I had managed to get payment details. And now this?! This was going to stop me from taking the test? Pounding in the numbers, I called the UKCAT helpline to ask why this was happening and what could be done to fix it. Daniel, the person on the other side of the phone, said that it was happening because I was due to take the test that day so the system thinks that I am either taking the test or have already taken the test so cannot book another until the system refreshes which would be at 18:00. There was nothing he could do until the system refreshed itself.
Getting home was a race against time, I had an hour to get home, get online and start trying again. It was 18:00. I was logged in, I was looking for the slot I’d found earlier but it had gone. Searching through all the cities I could think of. Nottingham, gone. Leicester, gone. Milton Keynes, gone. Manchester, gone. Aberdeen, gone. There was one in Aberystwyth, but when I tried booking it, the same error message popped up. And then the slot was gone. Desperately searching, any places I found were going as quickly as they came and I was unable to book them because of that error message.
By 22:00, the message was still coming up and I still couldn’t book. Searching. Selecting. Entering card details. Error. And repeat. I had been doing this continually from 18:00, and finally, at 04:30 the next morning, a slot opened up in my home city and the error message had gone! No sleep, barely eaten, but at last I could relax for a moment. The test had been booked. And I had pretty much memorised by parents’ card details so if I’m ever in a pickle… Haha!
I had to be up at 05:30 for college so I didn’t bother going to sleep, but I was so relieved. My test had been booked for October 5th, the final testing date, at 10:00.