Online proctored exams: What to expect and how to prepare

Published 11-18-2020 08:00 AM 5,617 Views
Microsoft

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.

6 Comments
Regular Visitor

Avoid if you can

Senior Member

Hi,

Prepare to have different rules every time you take the exam because it seems each proctors has their own set of rules.


Some just start the exam while I'm still holding my phone in my hand without even contacting me. And with others they complain about the wooden box that is below my monitor to set it to the correct height and make me remove it and then complain 10 times that I'm not always in the view of the camera.

 

The most annoying session I had was when I was not allowed to use my laptop (closed) in my dock and use my monitor as a screen (which is my normal test taking environment). I had to use my laptop so I was bend and way to close to my screen for 5 hours (yes I also had a lot of technical issues that session)

 

So be prepared for the unexpected. And make sure you have time after your exam appointment because if there are technical issue during the exam then it might take hours longer then the exam time.

Note to people in Europe: if you take online exams with VUE your aren't buying an exam but an online service. So you are taxed for an online service and not for an exam. That will make online exams with VUE more expensive then the location exams in some European countries (like for example in The Netherlands)

Visitor

very nice article

Senior Member

I'd echo other peoples comments in that Pearson Vue (in UK at least) are quite OTT with their supervising. They asked what the stuff was on my desk and made me remove it all, even though it was just an xbox controller, gaming magazines and some batteries. So clearly, nothing I could get exam information from unless I'm Doctor Strange and can extract answers from Nickel-metal hydride or an analogue stick. Made for a very stressful start of the test for no reason whatsoever.

Occasional Visitor

Really clean the room you're in as much as possible and do plan 30 minutes for check-in. I only had my laptop (with webcam and mouse, no external screen), ID card and phone in the room, and all cabinets closed. No other screens, nothing with text on it. Empty pockets. I once brought my hand up to my mouth and the chat opened with the proctor telling me not to cover my face. After that, I was able to continue the exam and it went fine. So my experience is that they are strict, and hopefully nobody will open the door to the room or talk loudly nearby, but I guess it's all fair. It's the same in an official exam room, except that you choose which room will be the exam room so you will also need to make sure it's as clean as possible.

Senior Member

@mvdhoutAs myself and others have said, we have cleared our desks as much as possible. Yes, it's the same conditions as an on-site exam, but to expect to remove lamps, audio equipment, batteries, etc is quite frankly, ridiculous.

 

I couldn't go in the lounge as my wife works there. I couldn't go in a bedroom or attic, as there's no desk. I have no laptop. So there's no other option than to do it in my main computer room, where it should be clear to anyone that the items still on my desk have nothing whatsoever to do with the exam and items such as books, phones, notepads, etc have been removed.

 

If they are strict and say exactly what they expect, that's fine, but they are completely inconsistent with it. It's all very well to just say to us clean your room, when we're all obviously trying to do that anyway and there's only certain places most of us can do these exams. Having to prepare for 30 minutes is crazy, there's no way anyone has that amount of items on their desk that are related to an exam they'd have to remove.

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