My Shodan test took less than 30 minutes - I knew exactly what would be asked and in what order. In my randori I sent a huge Japanese (they exist) flying with an unconventional technique ending up with a huge grin on my face and the same on Shihan.
Point being tests vary so much. No idea what marathon tests actually demonstrate - I am sure it was already decided who was ready and who was not before the day.
Do I think your people deserved their grade??
I wasn't there and have no idea what your sensei was actually looking for.