Interestingly enough, our first test is 9th kyu. Another thing I found interesting was that stripes are taken off, not put on. In other martial arts Ive studied you would get darker stripes on your belt to symbolize movment towards the darker belt's rank. But where I train at now, they put on lighter color stripes and take them off as your progress to symbolize fully achieving that belts rank.
Anyways, I was wondering how other peoples dan tests are. I have heard that in Japan they are quite short...more like a demo than a test. Our's are about average....shodan is like 45-55 minutes long, usually depending on how many times sensei wants to see a technique and how well you do on the question/answer/technique teaching portion/s. One of the teacher's at our dojo took a 4th dan test that lasted her 2-2.5 hours long.
Our tests are quite specific and they can definatley be failed. A lot of times sensei will do remidiation testing though..if you only failed like a kata or just one technique...but your core skills and fundamentals were pretty sound. And of course your tested to your physical capabilities as well.
Oh, if we give up on a technique, leave the mat, or an uke can't finish (if we hurt them, i mean), we automatically fail.