Online proctored exams: What to expect and how to prepare
Published Nov 18 2020 08:00 AM 20.2K Views

Although test centers are starting to reopen, you might not have the option of traveling to one to take your exam. Or, maybe you simply don’t want to. As a risk-averse psychometrician, I completely understand. If you haven’t taken the leap to try an online proctored exam—or if you did and ran into an issue—I’m here to help. Online delivered exams are nothing to be afraid of! They really can be less hassle, less stress, and even less worry than traveling to a test center—but only if you’re adequately prepared for what to expect!


Although the vast majority of online deliveries happen without issue, some test takers encounter something unusual or unexpected. Based on our analysis of these errors, most of them could have been prevented or mitigated through a few simple steps. In fact, these steps can maximize the likelihood of an error-free delivery. At the end of the day, it comes down to understanding the system and hardware requirements, bandwidth needs, and what to expect during an online proctored exam.


To that end, I’ve put together a list of helpful steps that should help you better prepare for this experience:


  1. Watch the video on our online exams page and follow the tips and tricks provided. Although some of the requirements may seem over the top, they’re all for good reasons. The most important goal is to ensure that your testing experience is equivalent to the those of everyone else taking our exam so that you don’t have an unfair advantage or disadvantage. That means making sure you’re in a disruption-free, clean space so that you can completely focus on the exam. We also need to ensure the security and integrity of the certification process in an environment where we have no control (like we would have in a test center) over the hardware, software, or bandwidth that you have in your home or office.
  2. Run a system test on the same computer and in the same location where you will test. This verifies whether your computer, location, and internet connection meet the system requirements. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard that a candidate ran the system test on a different computer or in a different location than that of the exam—and ran into problems. This is a common enough error that it bears repeating: run the system test on the same machine from the same location that you plan to use for the exam. And do it at least 24 hours in advance, so you have time to reschedule if your system doesn’t meet the requirements. In fact, do it before you register!
  3. Understand the rules. You won’t be able to have food, drinks (although water in a clear glass is allowed), papers, books, your phone, or other things on your desk. And you won’t be able to leave your desk for any reason. If you’re interrupted, your exam will be terminated. Additionally, you’ll be asked to remove your watch. You won’t be able to read questions aloud or to cover your face. (The proctor wouldn’t know whether a test taker is recording the questions or even reading them aloud to someone who’s helping them.) If you need an exception to any of these rules, you may be able to request one through our accommodation process, which is designed to ensure that you have a fair testing experience while still meeting our security standards. I know this might seem excessive, but it’s very similar to what happens when you’re at a test center.
  4. After you verify your identity and complete the room scan, the proctor will release your exam, so follow the onscreen prompts. I’m surprised by the number of people who don’t do this!


Remember that in an environment we cannot control (your home or office), we’re trying to mimic the same level of security and rigor in the testing process as we have in test centers. The steps we take and the rules that we have in place are critical to maintaining the integrity of our certifications, which I know is as important to you as it is to us. After all, if something undermines the integrity of our program, gives someone an unfair advantage, or makes it possible for them to cheat, it’s undermining the integrity of your certification, too.


So, I ask again. Did you run the system test yet on the computer that you'll be using to take your exam? This is perhaps the most important thing you can do to maximize the likelihood of a successful exam delivery. Don’t schedule an exam until you can pass the system test! If it fails, find a new computer or location and try again.


As always, I welcome your questions in the chat. But, more important, good luck with your exam!


Learn more about online exams with Pearson VUE.

Learn more about online exams with PSI.

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‎Nov 17 2020 02:41 PM
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