Umpires who lacked English knowledge protested and walked out blaming the authorities for not holding the test in Sinhalese, an official language on par with Tamil in this former British colony.
"We felt that we were discriminated by not having the examination in Sinhalese," an umpire who boycotted the exam told AFP.
"Had we gone to courts based on the fundamental and the constitutional right of citizens to conduct business in the language of their choice, we could have obtained an order to annul the examination."
Just five out of the 28 first class umpires who sat the examination late last month were able to obtain pass marks.
Among those who failed were Asoka de Silva, an ICC international panelist who had also served on the elite panel of the world governing body.
The exam was conducted by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) umpires committee to rank the first three local umpires in order to be nominated for the ICC's international panel.
Currently only two Sri Lankans, Asoka de Silva and Tyrone Wijewardena, figure in the ICC international panel.
The aggrieved umpires said umpiring standards in the island were dropping due to bungling and favouritism practised by officials.
They want the examination results to be ignored and selections based on individual performances.