Updated: May 11
Recently one of our PM-ProGraduates took the virtual PMP exam offered by Pearson VUE and PMI. Here is a short summary of the conversation I had with him about the virtual exam experience using the On VUE platform. To respect their privacy, this interviewee is referred to by first name only. For ease of reading and time, some parts of the exit interview have been omitted. This interview should answer quite a few of the Frequently Asked Questions about the new online PMP Exam.
Ian: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me about the virtual proctored PMP exam. Very few people have taken it this way, so it is really great you’re willing to talk with me to capture some lessons learned for others to use.
Dan: It is my pleasure. There are things I wish I had known prior to taking it virtually, so I’m definitely willing to help.
Ian: So, can you start us from the beginning? Once the exam was scheduled and it was test day, how did you get yourself ready for the virtual test?
Dan: The rules for the exam say you can only have one monitor during the test, so I had to disconnect my other monitor. I also had to clear everything off my desk. When I was checking in, I sent the pictures of the desk and office area they required using the phone. They told me that my pencil and pen holder had to be moved from my desk as well. Then using the camera from my computer, I showed them that the additional monitor was unplugged. Once they were good to go with my space, they asked me if I was ready to begin the exam. That’s when the problems started.
Ian: What do you mean “the problems?”
Dan: Once I said, “yes” they moved me over to the proctor and they told me to sit still in front of the camera and started a recording. The On VUE system just sat there with a spinning circle for a really long time. I’m not sure how long because you can’t wear a watch, but it was a while. I eventually had to restart my computer because the platform never fully launched so I couldn’t even chat with the proctor to let them know I was having problems.
Ian: Once you got restarted and back into On VUE, what did Pearson VUE do about the lost connection?
Dan: They asked me if I wanted to reschedule my exam because I had lost over an hour already from my scheduled window. I honestly just wanted to get through it and have it be done, so I agreed to go ahead and take my test rather than reschedule.
Ian: So, tell us about the On VUE platform during the exam. Was it what you expected?
Dan: Well one thing I wasn’t really ready for was the changes to how I captured my “brain dump.” Thinking I was going to be taking the exam at a testing center, I went out and bought a small whiteboard to practice doing the brain dump with a dry erase marker. During the exam, you’re not allowed to use any materials outside the testing platform, so I tried to do my brain dump on the digital whiteboard they have as a part of the system. I knew I was spending a ton of time trying to draw out Table 1-4 from the PMBOK, so I stopped doing that and started adding things quickly like EVM formulas, Maslow’s hierarchy, and Tuckman’s model. I don’t have a touch screen and I had disconnected my mouse, so I was trying to do all that with the scroll pad on my laptop, which really sucked.
Ian: It sounds like it. Did you feel like the digital whiteboard was a good tool to use? So, if you didn’t have just a scroll pad, do you think it was adequate to use for the brain dump or math questions and PNDs?
Dan: So, at the top of the screen there is a toolbar that has the calculator for math questions and the digital whiteboard. The thing I ran into was that when I would try to move that out of the way so I could see all of the question, sometimes it would go too far and the computer would lock up and give me a message that I was trying to access unauthorized programs during the exam.
Ian: And because their digital forensics platform is running and showing what’s happening on your computer, it thought you were trying to access like a browser or something and it locked down the test? Were you able to continue?
Dan: Yeah, I just had to chat to the proctor about what happened, and they started the test for me again right where I left off.
Ian: We have heard about a 10-minute break on the PMP exam that they are implementing in both the testing center and virtual exam platforms. Can you tell us about that?
Dan: Sure. So that was actually really surprising for me, because I DIDN’T know about it before I started taking the exam. I was going through questions, picking answers, and then hitting next to go to the next question. On question number 90, when I was hitting the button, it popped up a message that said, “Are you sure you want to submit?” I was like, “Um, no! I have only done 90 questions! Why would I submit?!” After chatting with the proctor and finding out there was a scheduled break and I could not come back to any of these questions, I reviewed all my answers and submitted the first part of my exam.
Ian: Did you get any results from the first part of your exam at all?
Dan: Nope. It just started my break, which popped up a new timer for 10 minutes.
Ian: So, the exam time stopped during the break?
Dan: It did, yes. When I came back after 7 minutes and restarted after the break, I had 2 hours on my clock to finish the rest of the questions.
Ian: What about the first part of your exam? I know you could not go back and review, but were they focused on a specific Knowledge Area, Performance Domain, or question type?
Dan: No. It seemed like a good variety of all types of questions from all over the PMBOK processes.
Ian: Interesting, so 90 questions in 2 hours and submit those. Then a 10-minute break, which was optional, followed by 2 hours for 110 more questions.
Dan: Yep. Why it stopped at 90 questions rather than 100 was confusing as well.
Ian: What about after you finished the last 110 questions? Did you submit and get your results?
Dan: Kind of. I got a pass/fail message, but not how I did in each domain. It just told me my detailed results would post within 24 to 72 hours on PMI’s site. I did have my printer hooked up and after that screen came up with my overall results, the printer started printing out the results by domain. I’m not sure I would have gotten that if it wasn’t hooked up and turned on. I would probably have had to wait until the detailed results posted on the website.
Ian: This has been really informative, and I really appreciate your willingness to help, Dan!
Dan: It’s no problem at all. I’m glad I could help
Please feel free to comment below and to join the conversation in the forums here on the PM-ProCommunity website! And, our PM-ProMentors are standing by to help you prepare for your own PMP Exam.