Microsoft Certification exams available online as Beta, now available in Ireland
If you ever wanted to achieve one of Microsoft's industry standard certifications, such as the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) but either lived too far from an authorised test centre or were too lazy to get to one, Microsoft has the plan for you.
Starting in December 2014, certain Microsoft exams are now available to take on-line, through a process called online proctoring. Essentially meaning that You can take select exams at home, at work, or at any other location that meets Microsoft's security and environment requirements.
Previously available in a limited beta for US-only participants, this program has been expanded to almost 30 countries including Ireland.
Microsoft have thought through all the ways that someone might think about working around the system and are working to be one step ahead. The online proctored exam will be monitored by an actual person and will feature some additional restrictions that are not required if you are at an exam centre.
Those who attempt certification using online proctoring will need to complete security-related admission steps, such as an ID check, with a greeter before testing can begin and will require the candidate to do a visual sweep of the test-taking environment with the webcam.
You'll be recorded—both video and audio—for the duration of the exam.
You can't take notes during the exam.
You can't eat, drink, or chew gum while you take the exam.
You can't take a break—for any reason.
Industry certifications are not one of the glamorous topics in the computing world, so it's good to see Microsoft trying to think a little different to let more people achieve a certification. Though, Microsoft are keen to stress that the temptation to game the system is not worth it. Kerri Davis, an Anti-Piracy Product Manager, says "We … review footage of exam sessions in cases where we suspect cheating. We’re pretty good at detecting cheating, so we don’t recommend you try it—we decertify cheaters, remove their certifications, and ban them from taking future exams"
During this beta period, online proctored exams are available for the same price as their equivalent onsite exams, which is something that test takers would hope to change when the program exits beta status as the digital delivery should lend itself to lower pricing. We'll have to wait and see how this pans out after the beta program in 2015.