In the UK we can now take exams without having to travel to a test centre through Online proctored exams.
I took the Marketing exam last month this way and wanted to share my experiences.
The requirements are quite onerous and it takes some time to prepare so plan ahead.
The main physical requirement is that you need a room with nothing on the walls, no other screens or devices accessible, clear desk, no distractions, basically nothing visible or audible that might assist you in the exam.
Now not many people will have a room where you can do this for instance my offices at work and at home are not viable. You could use a meeting room but you need to make sure no one enters as then your exam will be void.
I used a spare bedroom at home but it still took me a few hours to get the desk and PC setup to my liking.
The main technical requirement is that you need to install software including Adobe Air on your computer and you mustn’t have anything else running. Now my main computer has took much running on it to be safe, so I used a spare desktop that I had used to trial Windows 10 on.
I installed the Proctoring app and completed the test. I recommend you do this well before the exam it took an hour or two to get web cam and microphone working and then I realised the web cam I had was just not good enough. You need to take pictures of your ID using the web cam and they weren’t readable. So I purchased a Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 and tested again successfully.
Login to the exam well before your time. I had a problem in that the web cam which worked in the Windows Camera app, was just showing black screen in the Proctoring app. A reboot sorted it but you can do without the stress before an exam.
Once you have logged in you are placed in a queue (you can see where you are in the queue). You need to provide a phone number for the proctor to contact you.
The proctor will call and ask you to pick up the web cam and show all around the room. This took around 5 minutes and was very thorough. I was impressed at what they spotted as potential issues and asked for closer looks, for instance there was a shadow on my desk that the proctor thought might be a pen.
You then need to take pictures of your ID. I had a problem with lighting which meant that the name on my passport could not be read clearly. So I was asked to take a picture of my passport with my phone and upload it via a link they sent me. I had a further problem as I had my phone set to access desktop not mobile web sites and the URL refused to work. Once I realised this and switched it over I was able to upload the picture of my ID quickly.
So my advice is to test taking picture of your ID via web cam and make sure it is readable; next time I will adjust the lighting (I had lamp effectively next to the web cam).
Unlike exams at testing centres you are not allowed to have bathroom breaks as you must be visible at all times. Your web cam and microphone feeds are recorded and I guess are monitored throughout the exam.
As for the exam itself the experience is pretty much the same as in a test centre with the same user interface.
At the end when you have passed just end the exam and exit the app.
The only thing I disliked was not having laminated card and pen. I like to write and sketch out when I take exams and you are not allowed any paper or pens.
I did like the experience on taking an exam at home. Not having a stressful drive and the saving of time (1.5 hours in my case to nearest test centre) makes it well worthwhile if you have the capability.
My only worry when taking the exam was my cat who does not like doors being closed to him and stands outside shouting. This would count as a distraction and potentially would cause the exam to be voided.