Why is proctoring so strict?

Exams and Proctoring Process

Those who have taken one of our certification exams like CKA, LFCA or JSNAD have experienced what it is like to take an exam remotely while still interacting with a proctor via webcam. We understand that the requirements set by the proctors before you can start your exam can be frustrating and even seem arbitrary, but there are reasons these requirements are in place – and they are largely for your benefit.

Why we use proctors

Let’s start by explaining why proctors are necessary. All respected certification exams have processes in place to ensure the validity and soundness of the certification; if exams were completely on your own with no verification that you were the one to actually take the exam and that you did not cheat, then no one would take that certification seriously. Historically, this was accomplished by requiring that candidates for certification went in person to a testing center to complete the exam. This required a significant commitment of time and potentially expense  on the candidate’s part to travel to the center, and the exam had to be taken on whatever computer the center provided. By offering the ability to take the exam online with a remote proctor monitoring and using your own computer, we make these certifications more convenient, affordable and accessible. They can be taken from anywhere with a decent internet connection and on any date at any time, providing many more scheduling options. Using your own machine means less time and errors from an unfamiliar keyboard.

To ensure these exams remain as valid and respected as those offered in an in person testing center, it is essential that the remote exam still be delivered as securely as those taken in person. This can lead to some strict requirements, including particular setups of your computer hardware and software, removing materials from the room in which you are taking the exam, providing your approved photo identification to prove your identity, and showing all parts of your environment to the proctor via webcam before the exam starts. Again, these requirements ensure that the person taking the exam is truly the one whose name will be on the certificate, and that candidates are not cheating by hiding disallowed materials (or people) in the room. With cheating up significantly in recent years, this is necessary to ensure the value of these certifications remains high and they are seen as a true test of a candidate’s abilities.

For more general information about why remote proctoring is necessary, read this document from the Educause Learning Initiative.

What to expect before an exam

There are a number of steps you should take ahead of time to ensure your exam experience is as smooth as possible. Most of our exams are conducted through the PSI Proctoring Service. You can read about all the specific requirements in the Candidate Requirements section of our Certification Candidate Handbook. These are also accessible from your exam checklist.

Some of the system requirements include having Chrome or Chromium installed as the browser on your system, a webcam that can be moved to show different areas of your environment, and a microphone. Some of the environmental requirements include a clutter-free workspace, clear walls, good lighting, and no background noise. Be sure to review all requirements in detail in the handbook ahead of time so everything is prepared and your exam start is not delayed.

What to expect during the exam

The exam check-in process (including ID Verification and approval of your exam space) can take up to 30 minutes to complete, so please allow ample time to complete these steps.
The exam content will not be released to you, and the exam timer will not start until these steps are completed.  The check-in process includes:

  • Accepting the Linux Foundation Certification & Confidentiality Agreement (the same one that was presented to you at purchase and when you scheduled your exam)
  • Verifying your identification by presenting a non-expired Government ID to the proctor, with a first and last name that matches the registered name on the exam record. Please refer to our Candidate Identification and Authentication information, published in our Candidate Handbook for full details on acceptable forms of ID.
  • Providing a “tour” of your exam space  (panning your room with the webcam) so the proctor can verify that the workspace is clear of any disallowed materials, and your testing location meets the requirements outlined in our exam rules and policies.
  • Checking for hardware or software applications that are prohibited. You will be requested to stop/disable unauthorized software programs before the exam can be released to you.

There are Exam Rules & Policies to keep in mind including only having clear liquids in a clear container to drink, not using any other electronic devices or writing implements outside the exam environment, and not talking to yourself or reading questions out loud. While we know this can be hard for individuals who are used to reading things aloud to themselves, the proctor needs to ensure you are not communicating with anyone to receive assistance with the content of the exam. These procedures and policies are again necessary for these remotely-proctored online exams to ensure their validity.

Note that the main function of the proctors during the exam is to facilitate the check-in process and to monitor the session. They do not, nor are they expected to, have the technical expertise to weigh in or provide insight on the exam servers or exam content. This firewall ensures the integrity of the exam process, as the proctor cannot inadvertently provide unfair advantage to candidates on how to answer a question.

Some exams do permit the use of specific tools or resources during the exam. You can read what is permitted specifically for your exam on its specific policies page. These may include Man pages, documents installed by the distribution (i.e. /usr/share and its subdirectories), or packages that are part of the distribution. Any resources or tools not explicitly permitted cannot be used during the exam.

More information

We hope this post provides some insight into the exam process and why it can seem so strict. All the policies that are in place exist to ensure those sitting for these exams truly are qualified in the skills being tested, which gives these certifications the credibility to be seen as valuable by employers.

If you have further questions, the best place to look is the Certification Candidate Handbook or our Certification FAQ. If you cannot find an answer to your question there, contact Linux Foundation Training & Certification Support and they will provide the information you need.

And if you are ready to schedule a certification exam, view our catalog here.