The advantages and disadvantages of taking your PMI certification exam via online proctoring vs at a testing centre
When it comes to sitting an exam, there are few people that are not intimidated by the process of taking an exam, so making it as easy for yourself to do as well as possible is a very sensible idea.
Many people assume that taking an exam in-person at a Testing Centre is the best way to relieve some of that pressure, as they think back to school or university exams and sitting in a room with the rest of their class.
That shared nervousness outside, the clear instructions from the invigilator and knowing that other people are suffering in the same way you are because they are sitting next to you. The post-exam sigh of relief and answer comparisons as you leave the room.
Even just knowing that you have done it that way before gives you a measure of comfort.
Driven by the need for testing organisations to provide an internationally consistent offering at a reasonable price, adult certification exams, in certain locations are increasingly moving online. Far from benefiting only the testing organisation, there are advantages to the person sitting the exam – provided they have prepared themselves for the differences between the two modes of online proctoring vs testing centre.
This blog takes a look at the advantages and disadvantages of online proctoring vs testing centre, so that you are able to come away with a balanced view, and cover ways to help yourself prepare.
Advantages of taking your exam at a Testing Centre (Pros)
1. The technology to sit your exam is provided
All testing centres have agreed to provide suitable hardware and software to ensure that the exam and its content is as secure as possible.
2. If there are issues with the technology, someone is there to help you
Just as the testing centre must provide all the hardware and software, they will also have someone available to make sure it is working for you on the day.
3. The invigilator/proctor is a real person
The invigilator or proctor will be a real person and they can help you with any issues getting started. They may or may not be friendly, however! In smaller testing centres that only have one or two computers in them, the invigilator will not stay in the room, but instead have a clear sight of the room and will monitor you.
Disadvantages of taking your exam at a Testing Centre (Cons)
1. The venue could be unfamiliar and difficult to find
Since there are so few testing centres in New Zealand for example, you may not have been there before or know the area. You will need to find it, devise a route to the centre that will work at the time of day that you need it to, and you will need to arrange your own parking if you are travelling by car.
2. You may be the only one there sitting your particular exam
Far from the ‘shared’ experience described in the introduction, it is highly likely that you will be the only one in the room sitting the particular exam that you are there to sit because the testing centres need to offer a large number of different exams to be able to cover their costs.
3. Exam times are often very difficult to come by
Since these centres also offer a great many other international academic and professional exams, seats for exams book up very quickly, especially at the end of the academic year. It is not unusual to have to wait up to 6 months for a slot for the particular exam you want to sit.
Advantages of taking your exam Online (Pros)
1. You choose the venue for your exam
The exam can be taken from your home or office. Although there are certain restrictions about the type of room that you need to take the exam in, most people can find a quiet private space where they won’t be interrupted for the duration of the exam. Being in a familiar place often helps with reducing nerves.
2. You know that you and the proctor(s) will be the only ones at your exam
Although there may be a change of proctor part way through a long exam, it will just be the two of you at any one time. You may even forget that the proctor is there! Just as being in a familiar place can help reduce nerves, so can knowing ahead of time that you won’t need to deal with any random behaviour from strangers.
3. Exam times are easy to come by
The online proctored exam is available 24/7. There are far more people trained and willing to work at all hours around the globe as an online proctor than there are seats and trained proctors at NZ’s limited testing centres. This means that you have a lot more choice about when you sit the exam. Make it easy to fit the exam around your revision plan, family and work.
Disadvantages of taking your exam Online (Cons)
1. You need a good stable internet connection
If you live in a city or large town, this shouldn’t be an issue, but if you live rurally, you may wish to consider booking a remote working space in your nearest large town or city.
2. You need to provide suitable hardware
This may be the hardest part of taking an exam online as the exam provider will have software that may conflict with your organisation’s firewalls and security settings if you are using a computer supplied by your employer. Rather than deal with that, consider borrowing a personal laptop from a friend or colleague.
Note that you will need a computer with a webcam and microphone. You may use a desktop or laptop, but only a single monitor. Touchscreen technology is not able to be used.
Allow at least two weeks to test the device you are intending to use with the system test software that is supplied by the exam provider and to iron out any issues that arise. Run the system test again the day before the exam in case of updates to either the exam shield software or your computer.
3. They will want to see all around the room, not just your face
Because they need to check that there are no opportunities for you to cheat the proctor will ask you to use your computer to show them all around the room so they can see that the door is closed, that the walls and ceiling do not have anything on them that could help you in the exam, and that there is nothing under your desk.
Here are some tips near the end of this short video, Pearson VUE Online Exam Tips (What you need to know before you do your certification) – YouTube. You may wish or find it easier to cover shelves and so on with a sheet. You may also be asked to close blinds in front of any windows too.
4. You can’t see the invigilator/proctor
The invigilator or proctor will not be a real person standing in front of you but rather a disembodied voice that will give instructions or ask questions as you check-in for the exam and during the exam. This can be a little disconcerting, especially if you are deep in concentration and they interrupt you.
In summary, aside from a little more preparation regarding the hardware and software, the advantages of taking an exam online easily outweigh the disadvantages.
We encourage readers to conduct further research by checking out all the information available at OnVUE online proctoring // Pearson VUE and considering their unique situation before making decision.
If you’d like to reach out to discuss with us, please get in touch.