The 30th of December I took, for the first time, a microsoft online exam directly from home without having to go into one of the pearson vue centers. The solution is definitely very convenient if you do not have an examination centre at your fingertips (the one closest to my house is a 40-minute drive).
What you need to be able to take the exam:
- Un pc (really??) with acceptable hardware features
- Good connectivity
- A webcam with a good resolution
- A microphone
- A valid identity card
- A handy phone (a mobile phone is ok)
- A room in which to lock yourself inside for 2-3 hours without nobody that will disturb you
- A clean desk, without any forbidden object above
For the pc I can not give you the minimum hardware requirements, but you need to know that, before enrolling in any exam, you should go here: https://www.microsoft.com/it-it/learning/online-proctored-exams.aspx and download the two softwares to test the features of the pc, the webcam, the microphone, connectivity and also if you are running some software that is not allowed (in my case, for example, the sonicwall netextender that I had in the background was detected). At the end of the tests you will know if your pc is suitable or not for the task.
Regarding the exam I recommend you to connect at least 15 minutes before the actual time of the exam because you will lose a little bit’ of time with the various controls, unless you follow the tips that I'm about to give you, in this case, in 5 minutes, you'll probably be good to go. As for me was the first time I had no idea of the controls and restrictions so I have prepared virtually nothing, I just connected a second external monitor to the laptop to be a little’ more comfortable (wrong choice…...).
First of all, I have struggled to find the link to connect to and start the exam, anyway it is written in the confirmation mail that you receive after the registration; anyway you start from www.microsoft.com/learning Once logged in go to the section “Your benefits & exams” in the menu and then look for the link “Start a previously scheduled online proctored exam” that if I remember correctly is located in the top right. Ok at this point you'll have to choose the examination and, after clicking on it, the software for the management of the examination will start.
At this point there will be a couple of checks carried out in automatic (for example, the status of the webcam and microphone) and you will be asked to take a photograph of your identity document. After the automated checks you will be assigned a “tutor” that will contact you firstly in a chat and then will call you at the phone number that you will communicate and perform the other checks prior to the start of the examination; the phone call is completely in English (the calling number was from Massachusetts, but the operator had an indian accent), however, if you do not understand something they have the possibility to write in chat in both English and your language.
In my case, these tests have lasted for a while’ because, as I said, I was at the first experience and I had no idea what would have been checked. Anyway, except for a couple of questions to confirm that I was me (very trivial: the last name and an other information that I can't remember), the operator has verified that my desk was clean and there were not around pens, matite, sheets, notepads, mobile phones or anything. To do this I had to show the state of the desk, and the room via the integrated webcam of my laptop by turning the pc of 360 degrees (definitely awkward since it was connected to the power supply, to the mouse, tastiera, network, etc. etc.). Another thing, the webcam must be placed in front of the candidate, in my case, however, was placed to the side because I connected a second screen that I then had to remove since any other displays connected to the pc is not allowed. Further verification regarding the pockets, and any objects hidden in them or in the sleeves of the sweatshirt. The last step: thanks for choosing the service and good luck before dropping off the phone on the floor behind the chair.
During the examination, you will always have the opportunity to contact your tutor via the chat with the possibility to be contacted by phone, for the rest the exam is exactly the same as if you were in a pearson vue center (the exams are exactly the same) with the difference that you are monitored via the webcam of your pc, so the things to avoid in order not to be rebuked are: look often around, or fix spots away from the screen, read the questions aloud, or "read them with the lips". The behaviors or situations that could cost the cancellation of the exam are: get up from your chair, leave the room, lock/disable the microphone or the webcam.
In conclusion I can say that it is a comfortable service, the more you are distant from a tesing center the more comfortable it is and it can help you to save time (in my case, I think I've saved at least 1 hour and a half).
The exam was the 70-342 Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, and I passed it with the minimum score required…. a little bit of “luck” every now and then!!! 🙂