Microsoft ventures into the realm of online proctored exams
The saying goes that when the cat's away the mice will play. The more pertinent question, however, is what will the mice do on their next certification exam? Certification entities have cast a longing eye at the convenience and cost savings of online testing for years. The biggest perceived problem with online certification testing is that you can't control the testing environment. Is the person who signed up for the test actually the one who's taking it? Is the test candidate using unauthorized resources to get a better score? Those and other factors can be closely monitored at a testing center, where conditions are supervised by a test proctor. You can't assign a proctor, however, to someone who's taking your test at a home PC halfway across the country.
Or perhaps you can. New Microsoft certification testing partner Pearson VUE earlier today announced the release of online proctored exams for select MTA and MCP credentials. The new process involves taking your test under the remote supervision of a test proctor via webcam and microphone. The list of exams available, 22 in all, is as follows:
Of course, freedom isn't free, as they say. In exchange for the massively increased convenience of online exams, test candidates must agree to a number of conditions, including a strict prohibition on breaks. Once you start your exam, you can't step away from it for any reason, whether it's to use the toilet, answer the phone (or a knock at the front door), get a cake out of the oven, and so forth. You also can't eat, drink, or chew (gum, sunflower seeds, etc.) during the exam, you can't take notes, and you must agree to both video and audio recording of your entire test.
Other exam security requirements include taking the exam in a clean, private room, using a desk space clearly visible via webcam. The candidate must complete an ID check and do a visual sweep of the testing area (also via webcam) before starting an exam.
For now, online proctored testing is only available in the United States, and weekends are excluded. You can take your test Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. (Eastern). On the other hand, you don't have to book your slots days or weeks in advance: Provided there's a slot available, you can schedule you exam as abruptly as 15 minutes before taking it. Test candidates also have the benefit of instant scoring. Exam results can be viewed immediately upon completion.