The online exam experience

 By Chris Testa-O’Neill, Data Platform MVP and founder & Principal Consultant at Claribi. Chris is a regular speaker on the international SQL Server conference circuit, and an organiser of SQLBits and SQLRelay. He has been a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) for the past 16 years, having both authored and delivered Microsoft official courses.

I am always keen to keep up with the certifications within the areas that I work - this includes most of the SQL Server and Active Directory certifications, and more recently Azure certifications as well. In early February I was fortunate to take part in the Big Data and Azure Infrastructure beta exams.

Of course, with new technologies you will expect changes. The biggest and most welcome change was the fact that these exams took place in my home, on a Friday and Saturday night, with the new online proctored exam.

What does this mean?

Well, it means that you can take the exam from your office or even in the comfort of your own home. Here are some tips to prepare you for this type of exam.

Run the system check

When you receive your confirmation email for the exam, do run the system check that is in a link within the email. I would advise doing this a few days before the exam so that you avoid any last minute problems. If the system check does not pass, you cannot take the exam!
This will check that your system can support the exam using an .exe file named PVProctor.exe. It also checks that your webcam and mic work - this is so that the remote proctor can see, and if necessary speak, to you. You can uninstall this .exe after the exam.

Click the right link

Make sure you click the right link to start the exam. It’s not so clear how to start it if you don’t read the instructions on the email. You start your exam as highlighted in the graphic when you access your Microsoft Learning dashboard:

This will then redirect you to the Pearson Vue testing site where you can click on the link to start the exam. Note that you will run through the system check again.

Be prepared to receive a phone call

During the system check you are asked to take a photo of yourself and of your ID. If the ID is blurry and you can’t get a good picture, you will receive a call from the remote proctor who will ask you to take a picture of your ID on your phone and transfer the picture to a secure site. Once this is done you will be asked to put your phone away.

Empty your pockets

You will be asked to turn out your pockets to ensure that the contents are empty.

Clear your walls of any technology posters

My home office has, well, quite a few SQL Server items on the wall. Diagrams of DMVs or anything with text on it you will be asked to remove. I would remove these before you start your exam!


Was it worth it?

Absolutely. For a number of reasons:

  1. I was able to schedule the exam away from my core working hours where I am with customers. Friday and Saturday night 8pm – 12am helped that.
  2. I saved the time that I would have lost in just the travel to exam centre alone. In the UK, we are lucky with the amount of testing centres we have, but there are still people who would have to take a full day of work to take an exam. This time can be saved with this delivery method
  3. My interaction with the proctor was quick and professional. Their objective is to get you settled into the exam as soon as possible

So next time you book an exam, I would recommend the Online Proctor approach!


Where can I find out more?

You can find all of the information you need on technical certifications and training on the Microsoft Learning page. There’s also details on finding your right IT certification and the nearest test centre.

Have any further questions about Online Proctored Exams? All of the details can be found on the Online Proctored Exam page.

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