I recently had a to take my MCSE renewal exam (70-980) and thought I’d give the Pearson Vue online proctored exam version a try rather than driving an hour each way to my nearest choice of low rate testing centres (think cheap nasty low cost slow white box computers, sometimes cramped cubicles, parking issues, date/time availability issues – yes I’ve had bad experiences of all of the above!). As an IT consultant time is nearly always in short supply and very limited testing centres offer testing on a Saturday. My reasons were numerous for trying the online delivery of the test:

  • Can book on the day for a start time up to 9PM
  • No travel time and cost
  • Luxury of taking it in my home study, set to a comfortable temperature and no other disruptions
  • Decent powered desktop computer
  • Quick overview of the experience: Good, I would do it again. There are various requirements to meet:

  • System Requirements, system tests, testing protocol: http://www.pearsonvue.com/microsoft/op/
  • Technical Specs: http://home.pearsonvue.com/op/basic-technical-specs
  • The software checks you don’t have any other applications running (remote control, screen capture, etc) as well as making sure the microphone and webcam work. This can be tested before booking the exam – important! It was a shame to note that I couldn’t use my Surface Pro 3 to take the test with its built in webcam, but as it is on the list of explicitly disallowed devices (along with touch screen and mobile devices) I figured it wasn’t worth the risk trying. I used my desktop with a USB webcam which worked fine.

    Take note of the clear desk policy! Everything out of arms reach and expect to have to show in detail any pictures or any other object!

    After you sign in you are asked for a phone number to be called back on for the invigilator to go through the checks with. this came from a +1 number to my mobile and the check in process lasted about 15-20 minutes where you are asked to scan the room, your desk, empty your pockets, show your arms etc, then they release the test and it is exactly as you would be in the testing centre, then the phone call ends. Any communication is via chat window unless they need to call you.

    Overall the experience was very positive (I saved a load of time, took the exam at 9PM at night, and passed 🙂 ) My only two gripes are that the voice call quality was dire – clearly some VoIP from India breaking out in USA but suffering bandwidth/latency issues – I had to ask to repeat the question multiple times for almost every question and that during the entire test a small window shows the capture from your webcam – I really enjoy looking at my self when I’m struggling on a tough question :/

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