My Experience with a Microsoft Online Proctored Exam
This morning I sat for the Microsoft 70-689 exam (Upgrading your Skills to MCSA Windows 8). For this exam I decided to give the new offering of taking the exam online as opposed to driving out to a testing center.
[With 2015 Microsoft changed testing partners here in the US and they began to offer the ability to sit for your exam and take it online.]
This was new to me but I thought I’d give it a try at least and see if it would be a method I would use again.
Registration and Pre-Requisits
Registering for the exam was pretty straightforward with the only standout exception being the expanded hours that I could schedule for. While a physical testing center might have test slots open between 8:00 am and perhaps 3:00 pm, with the online exam I could schedule as early as 5:00 am and as late a 6:00 pm.
There are some pre-requisites such as the need for Adobe Flash and enabling popups, and you have to use a Windows machine and IE. But that’s to be expected.
This morning I got into work early and set myself up on the conference room I had reserved. You cannot start early and must wait for the scheduled time before you are allowed to start the exam process. You are first met by a “greeter” who will step you through using your webcam to scan the room to ensure that you don’t have any other computers, books, notes, etc. They will also ask you to turn your pockets out and show that your arms are bare. If you have long sleeves you’ll be asked to roll them up so that your arms are visible. You will used your webcam to photograph your official ID as well as photograph yourself. Once that is all complete (took less than 10 minutes) you then start the exam.
The exam itself is the same exam questions and operates exactly the same as the ones at the testing centers. The proctor will only contact you if there is an issue. Apparently I have a habit of looking around while thinking as the proctor popped up a chat window and asked that I refrain from looking off camera. For the first few minutes I was a bit preoccupied with the thought of being watched. The light on the webcam was a reminder that everything I did and said was being recorded. After a bit through I settled into a groove and was able to forget about the camera recording me.
At the completion of the exam I was notified that I had passed, exactly as you would if you were taking the exam in a testing center. But whereas you walk out of a test center with a copy of your score report, with the online exam you don’t have that. When you’re finished the exam software closes and you’re left looking at your Desktop Wallpaper. You have to sign into the MCP site to get an electronic copy of your score report.
Overall it wasn’t nearly the trouble I was afraid it could have been. Perhaps I’m a pessimist but I was worried that something would go wrong. The network would drop. Someone would walk in to see if I was finished in the conference room. My laptop would crash. Of course none of that happened. The process went off without any issues. The proctor was polite and friendly. And I passed my exam.
Would I do it again? And would I recommend it to others?
Yes, I think I would do it again. I’m a morning person and I can easily reserve a conference room at work, come in extra early and could get the exam done before anyone else got into the office if needed. It saved me a trip to the local community college to take the test there. Granted that’s not that far of a drive but combined with the expanded hours it works well for me. Especially now that I know what to expect.
Is it for everyone? Certainly not. The agreement has lots of warnings. No-one else is allowed to be in the room. You cannot speak to anyone. You cannot have any personal belongings with you. No other computers can be present. TVs have to be turned off. So on and so on. But if you can set aside the time and have access to a private space that will adhere to the rules then maybe give it a thought.