I’m excited to have a guest post this week on Admin Hero! I’ve been curious to know how virtual proctoring works when taking a Salesforce certification exam, and thanks to Paul, now we know!
DISCLAIMER: This is based on my experience alone and requirements and checks change over time.
Here’s the situation: I’m in a capital(ish) city, wanting to take my Advanced Administrator exam; it never hurts to have a bit of paper to back up my claims of experience and knowledge.
So I log on to Kryterion’s Webassessor website and look up availability. Select “Register for new exam,” choose the exam, double and triple check that I’ve chosen the right exam, and that I have not accidentally signed up for the wrong language.
Then I get to the list of locations. Weesp? Den Dolder? I’m in a new city (Amsterdam). Are either of these anywhere near here? At least one is a pretty town so it would be a good excuse to go back there, but wait, it says “by invitation only”, so that’s not going to work.
I make my selection, look through the list and I can see that I can either take the exams on a Friday at one test centre, or just 1 day a month at another test centre. This is crazy! I’m ready and want to take my exam now. There has to be a better way!
Introducing Online Exams
So, a mate of mine has mentioned that he has taken an exam by webcam recently. Let’s just have a look and see what the flexibility is on that. Back to the exam screen and select “Online”. Ah, something is wrong. Clearly I can’t start an exam in 15 minutes? Or at midnight? So I clean my glasses and start again. For online assessments, it transpires you can schedule your exam for just about any time, any day of the week – i.e. 24×7.
Actually this isn’t entirely true. On most days there are slots starting every 15 minutes throughout the entire day, but other days there are only slots available for just half the day and on other days there are random 3 hour gaps. Very occasionally there are one or two days when there are no slots available; I’m presuming this is due to system/exam updates.
The good news is that, you can log on in advance and see the availability of slots for the next week (or even month), without actually committing to a slot then and there.
There are the benefits of:
- zero travel time
- much improved flexibility with usually no notice being required (most days/times)
- exams can be taken at home or in the office (e.g. in a meeting room)
- you can do it at a time of day that suits you (e.g. some people think better in the evening)
- You need to be in an empty room, with no sounds (apart from yourself typing) – so turn off that mobile!
- You need to place the webcam away from your computer so that it has full view of both your face, your hands, and your laptop – a long table helps here as you can avoid the hassle of putting a webcam on a tripod.
- You aren’t allowed anything else on the desk – unlike test centre exams, you aren’t allowed any pens, pencils or paper.
- Toilet breaks aren’t possible either (again, this is different from test centre environments).
Webcam Requirements (as of June 2017)
- High Speed USB 2.0 connection
- Minimum Video Resolution of 720p with a frame rate of 30 fps
- Manual focus ring (ok, my webcam didn’t have this, but then most don’t and it wasn’t needed)
- No auto zoom or auto focus – must be turned off (didn’t touch this setting either)
- Built-in microphone highly recommended
- Cord length of 6’ (2m) or more
Digital camcorders, smartphones, tablets, additional laptops/computers are not acceptable as camera alternatives.
Recommended model: I spent a while searching for something and Kryterion has a webcam available, but once you add in postage it doesn’t seem the best cost/benefit option. The Logitech C920 meets all the above criteria and is readily available (€59/$62). If you do go for that model just bear in mind that you need to download and install the webcam’s software – it doesn’t do it automatically.
TIP: Some local Salesforce user groups have webcams which they are happy to lend out (hat tip to the Belgium User Group for this idea, which the Amsterdam User Group has now taken up).
So you’ve bought the webcam, scheduled the test and are about to start the test. Good! Let’s check the webcam is set up correctly:
- Install webcam software (if required)
- Check that the webcam and microphone are working as intended using this tool: https://www.onlinemictest.com/
This website is endorsed by Kryterion – speak out loud because Kryterion wants to check for background noise; if all is working then the lines on the screen should move.
- Click “Tools – Webcam Test” once you’ve completed the microphone test; use this to check that you have set up your workspace correctly and it all fits within the camera’s view (see screenshot alongside).
- Register for the exam. You will be prompted to download and install the remote test/security software and install it at that point. Alternatively, you are also prompted (via a panel on the right hand side of the screen) when you next login to Webassessor. Allow at least half an hour just to be on the safe side (before the start time of your exam), though it usually takes more like 5-10 minutes to do the install.
Taking the exam
- You can start a few minutes early; certainly this doesn’t hurt as this gives you a few more minutes if everything doesn’t go as smoothly as planned, in starting the exam.
- Use Chrome browser (others are available, but Chrome doesn’t require extra Adobe Flash software to be installed).
- Initially the webcam will want to take a picture of your face (biometric security), for which you can use the internal laptop camera if you have one (or the external webcam); it is recommended to take off your glasses just for the full face photograph.
- You then use the settings on Chrome to change to the second webcam (e.g. the C920) which will have the full visibility.
- Off you go!
TIP: The software did actually crash once on me when I was in the middle of the test. There was a telephone number on the screen which I wrote down, but what I actually did was close the browser entirely, reopen it, log in, go through the face/biometric check again and then it automatically picked up from where I left off.
- Kryterion Online Proctoring Support (with video demos)
- Kryterion Online – Preparing For Your Exam (PDF)
- Salesforce Online Proctoring Guide – macOS (PDF)
- Salesforce Online Proctoring Guide – Windows (PDF)
- Beginner’s Guide to Salesforce Certification
“Success!” as they say here in the Netherlands (good luck!). And, if anyone wants to know, I passed ☺
About Paul Ginsberg
Paul Ginsberg is a Salesforce Consultant working at ABSI, a Gold Partner based in the Netherlands, France and Belgium. He also co organizes the Amsterdam User Group. You can follow Paul on Twitter at @naturallyiq.