Do you know that now you can take the CAPM® Certification exam from the comfort of your home or office without the hassles of going down to a testing center. PMI, following the lead from other leading technology certification providers, has made it super easy for aspiring project managers to take the CAPM exam by introducing a new test taking option - the CAPM Online Proctored tests. In this post, we’ll learn more about the CAPM Online Proctoring and how it works.
What is Proctoring?
Honestly I didn’t know the meaning of Proctoring when I came across this term a few weeks ago. But with a quick Google Search, I’m now an authority on this topic ;) Jokes apart, proctor in the exam context means an exam invigilator. In the virtual world, the invigilator is remote (offsite) and monitors you using the webcam and microphone on (or attached to) your computer.
How does CAPM Online Proctoring work?
First, you’ll have follow the regular CAPM application process, get PMI’s approval and pay the exam fee. Nothing has changed in that area. After you’ve paid the exam fee, you can schedule your exam. This is where you’ll have the option to choose between the Center-Based and Online Proctored exams.
Before the Exam
Before the exam, you’ll have to run a few system checks to ensure that your computer meets the requirements for online proctored test. For this, you’ll need to download and install an application called PVproctor on the computer on which you’ll be taking the test. This application will launch a wizard that will guide you through a series of tests for camera, microphone, speaker, ID card scanning, internet connectivity, etc.
If all tests are successful, it will enter into an exam simulation mode. But before it launches the simulated exam, it will ask you to shut down all the other applications running on your system. Once you close all the other applications and confirm, it will launch the simulated exam. The simulated exam contains just one general question - What is the color of the sky? You can either look out from the window or walk out the door to confirm the color, as there’s no proctor monitoring you during the simulation. Once you answer that question, you can end the exam and exit the simulation mode. If everything goes well, you’ll see a confirmation on the screen that your system is compatible for online proctored test.
Note that while the simulation is running (and during the actual exam), you’ll not be able to launch any other application on your system (yes, I tried it first hand).
On the Exam Day
On the exam day, you can start the exam up to 30 mins before your scheduled examination time, but no later than 15 mins after the scheduled time. At the beginning of the exam, you’ll need to run through the same system checks again. After the checks you’ll be connected to a greeter, who will verify your ID and brief you on the testing behavior/conduct and the communication process during the exam. You’ll also be asked to scan your work area by moving your webcam around the room. You’ll need to clear of desk of any phone, tablet, or other electronic devices, books, pens and papers from your desk, and turn off other monitors and screens in the work area.
Once this process is complete, your exam will start under the supervision of an offsite proctor (invigilator). You’ll not be allowed to leave the room during the course of the exam. You can contact the proctor via online chat during the exam. If the proctor needs to contact you, he/she will attempt to do so via text or voice chat first. If you are not reachable on chat, the proctor will attempt to call you on your phone.
Key points about CAPM Online Proctoring
- You will be under constant monitoring over the webcam and microphone and the entire process may be recorded.
- You can take the exam from a Windows or Mac computer, but not from tablets, or mobiles. If you have a Windows or Mac system purchased within the last 4-5 years and equipped with a functional (internal or external) webcam, microphone and speakers, you should be fine.
- The exam is administered by Pearson VUE. But you need to login with to PMI website first using your PMI account, and PMI will redirect you to Pearson VUE’s portal.
- You cannot leave the room while the exam is in progress.
- You can take the exam from Tuesday to Saturday. I guess this is done to accommodate time zone differences (Monday is Asia is Sunday night in the US).
- You still have the option to take the exam at a regular testing center if you choose to do so. I’m sure there will be people who may not have a conducive testing environment in their home or office, and still prefer to go down to a testing center to be able to focus on the exam.
- The exam content and difficulty level are the same whether you test using online proctored or center-based test.
- The software on the computer will block your internet access during the course of the exam.
- Eating, drinking, smoking, and chewing gum are prohibited during the exam.
- You can only use English to communicate with the proctor.
- The proctor will not answer any questions or provide clarifications related to the exam content.
Explainer video about CAPM Online Proctoring
Please refer to this helpful explainer video on the entire process of online proctoring.
PMI has done a good job in explaining the entire process on their website. Please refer to the CAPM Online Proctoring FAQs to understand all the aspects of the program in detail. I also suggest you to read the CAPM Handbook to understand the complete certification process.
Benefits of Online Proctored Tests?
Online proctored tests have some obvious benefits.
Convenience: First and foremost, it’s the convenience of taking the test from a location of your choice without the need to travel to a testing center. This is especially helpful for people who are in remote locations with no testing center in their vicinity.
No disturbance or distraction by other exam takers: If you have taken any exam at a testing center, you would know that there is some level of noise and disturbance from other candidates around you.
Less anxiety during the exam as you are taking the tests at a location that you are familiar with.
Caveats for Online Proctored Tests
Here’s a list of few caveats of online proctored tests that I can think of.
One concern is privacy. You and the work area around you will be under constant audio and video surveillance during the entire 3 hours (or so). The whole process may be recorded. You would need to give up your rights to Privacy for those 3 hours. Does that make you uncomfortable? If it does, then online proctoring is not for you. You may argue that even at the testing center, you are under surveillance, but from my experience, though there are CCTV cameras at the testing center, they are not staring right into your face.
Another important caveat is the higher risk. Let me explain. If there’s a problem during the testing process, for example a power-cut, which is quite common in many countries around the world, your exam may get terminated abruptly. In that case, the onus would be on you to prove the circumstances under which the exam was disrupted before you are allowed to retake the exam. Similarly there are many other problems that can occur - your computer may crash, or somebody enters your room, or you need to attend to an emergency around you, etc.
There’s more potential for cheating in online proctored exams compared to center-based tests. This means unqualified candidates might pass and compete with you for the same jobs.
Tips for Online Proctored Test Takers
Here are a few tips I suggested if you decide to go for the CAPM online proctored exam.
Lock the room from inside while you are taking the exam. If someone enters the room even accidentally, your exam may be terminated by the proctor.
Make sure you are in good health and able to sit through for 3 hours without any biological or other breaks, because you are not allowed to leave the room for any reason while the exam is in progress.
Have a light meal or snack before the exam that can see you through for 3 hours.
Tell your friends and family about the exam schedule so that they don’t disturb you while your test is in progress. Remember that you need to keep your phone on as the proctor may call you in case of an issue.
If you are using a desktop, make sure you have UPS for power backup, and if you are using a notebook it is connected to a power outlet while you take the exam.
Is the Exam Fee same for Online-Proctored and Center-based Tests?
Yes, the exam fee is exactly the same for Online-Proctored and Center-based tests. I do think that PMI should offer some discount for online-proctored tests to increase uptake and pass some cost savings to the candidates.
Is there a PMP Online Proctoring program as well?
It’s logical to ask if there’s an online proctoring option for PMP as well? Well, the answer is ‘no’. At the moment, PMI is offering online proctoring only for their CAPM® Certification. I believe they are piloting the program with CAPM first, and would gradually roll it to other certification exams. But PMP exam is a 4-hour long marathon and that presents a unique challenge. It’s not easy to sit through or go without a bio break that long. If they do extend online proctoring to PMP, they may decide to allow you to take your computer along to the toilet! Just kidding :)
I believe this is a good initiative by PMI. It’s great example of using the technology to bring convenience to people. When you can pretty much do anything online today, then why should you not be able to take an exam online. So I say - great job, PMI! Hope to see this extended to other certification programs soon.
Let me know what you think about online proctoring by posting your comments below.