Board Policy on Applicants who Fail the Principles and Practice Examination Multiple Times
The Board of Registration of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors ("the Board") voted at its meeting on May 26th, 2011 to adopt the following Policy Guideline. The guideline set forth below does not have the full force and effect of law, as would a Massachusetts General Law or a Board rule or regulation. However, the Board uses policy guidelines as an internal management tool in formulating decisions that relate to issues in the practice of engineering and land surveying.
Policy No. 11-001 (revising policy No. 06-02, dated April 27th, 2006)
The purpose of this policy is to inform applicants of the procedures that must be followed to obtain approval to take the principles and practice licensing examination after having failed that examination two or more times.
An applicant who takes the principles and practice examination in engineering or the principles and practice examination in land surveying twice and fails both times must submit documentation demonstrating that he or she has successfully completed an educational program aimed at helping the applicant succeed on the examination prior to receiving Board approval to sit for the examination for a third time. In addition, the Board may require the applicant to sit for a personal interview for the purpose of evaluating the applicant’s updated qualifications before being approved to sit for the examination.
Anyone who fails the principles and practice examination three or more times, in addition to complying with the above mentioned requirements, will not be eligible to retake the exam for a period of one year. The Board may require increased evidence of qualification to take the examination after each subsequent failure. After repeated examination failures, the Board may notify the applicant that the next examination will be his or her last opportunity to pass the examination prior to denial of his or her application for failure to meet minimal qualifications for licensure.
Per G.L. c. 112, § 81J, the Board is responsible for evaluating the qualifications of applicants for licensure as a professional engineer or a professional land surveyor in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Per G.L. c. 112, § 81L, successful completion of the Board’s examination requirements is a crucial component of the licensing process. This statute states that an applicant who fails a licensing examination once may apply after six months to take the examination again. The statute is silent, however, with respect to applicants who fail a licensing examination more than twice.
Board regulations are contained in Title 250 of the Code of Massachusetts Regulations ("Title 250"). Section 3.04(1)(c) and 3.04(2)(c)of Title 250 state that if the applicant fails the principles and practice examination a second time, his application is automatically rejected.
Those regulations further provide that an applicant whose application is rejected based on two failures may apply to the Board to have his or her application re-opened if he or she wants to take the examination for a third time. See 250 CMR 3.04(1)(c)(5) and (2)(c)(5). While this provision allows the applicant to ask if his or her application can be re-opened, it does not mandate the application be re-opened, nor does it mandate that the board admit the applicant to the exam again if the application is re-opened.
An applicant’s repeated failure of a licensing examination calls into question his or her qualifications for licensure. Accordingly, prior to allowing an applicant to take an examination for the third time, the Board will require that the applicant submit documentation demonstrating that he or she has successfully completed an educational program aimed at helping the applicant succeed on the examination. In addition, the Board may require the applicant to sit for a personal interview to allow the Board to evaluate the applicant’s updated qualifications before being approved to sit for the examination.
Per 250 C.M.R. 3.04(1)(c)(6) and 3.04(2)(c)(6)anyone who fails the Board’s licensing examination three or more times, in addition to complying with the above-mentioned requirements, must wait a period of at least one year for each subsequent exam.
Repeated failure of the licensing examination despite completion of all the requirements set forth above raises serious concerns regarding an applicant’s qualifications as well as examination security. Accordingly, an applicant who fails the principles and practice examination repeatedly may be denied approval to sit for another examination and have his or her application for licensure denied by the Board for failure to meet minimal qualifications for licensure.