Amazon now offers online proctored exams

We recently wrote about Oracle’s at home proctored exams. Amazon is now starting to do the same. They announced it last month. As of now, it is only valid for the practitioner exam. Taking the exam anytime of the day or night is a nice feature to offer.

It’s offered from PearsonVUE so the rules are pretty similar to Oracle’s. See our blog post from when Oracle started offering it for our take. I think more people fall into the category of the online proctored exam being useful for AWS though. Here’s why:

Computer requirements

Same as in the Oracle blog post

Room requirements

Same as in the Oracle blog post. Still a problem for me because it is a physical layout issue.


Same as in the Oracle blog post. Prepare your family/roomates so you have a room to yourself.

No Breaks

The AWS exam is significantly shorter than the OCP. Which means you aren’t likely to need a bathroom break and not being to take on is a non-issue.

No writing

This is still a problem for me. I write a lot down during exam. Facts I think i”ll forget. Questions I want to go back to. What I want to remember between questions in case one question answers another. I also like to track how many I am unsure of because it gives me confidence that I’m not failing.

Depending on your test taking style, not writing things down may be a non-issue though. It’s not like you are tracing complex loops here!

My thoughts

While I can’t do this, I think it is a good option for folks who have more space and/or live further away from a testing center. It’s definitely an easier sell than on the OCP!

Oracle now offers online proctored exams

When signing up for a cert exam from Oracle (via PearsonVUE), you now get asked whether you want to take it “at a local test center” or “at my home or office.”

The online option sounded interesting so I clicked on it and went to the Online Proctored exam page. The gist is that if you can meet certain requirements, you can take the exam from home.

Computer requirements

Computer requirements are pretty standard. Any modern computer with Mac/Windows/Linux should be fine. Don’t take it over the corporate network though; it doesn’t play well with corporate firewalls.

Room requirements

The room requirements are where this falls apart for me. You have to be a walled room with a door. I live in New York City.; apartments are small. My apartment has two doors – one to get into the apartment and one for the bathroom. Everything else is one big room.

You also have to use your webcam to show that you aren’t in arm’s reach of books/notepads/post-its/papers/pens/pencils/etc. Additional monitors must be unplugged. Looking around, I have *a lot* of stuff within arms length. It would take a while to move things even if I had a room with a door.


You have to be alone in the room. So prepare your family/roommates.

No Breaks

Ou are not allowed to take a bathroom break. I’ve never needed one during the exam. But it is three hours and some people do. In an exam center, you are allowed to go to the bathroom. It counts against your time, but you can go.

No writing

You aren’t allowed to write anything down. At the exam center, you can trace variables, write down questions to go back to etc. You have to return the paper at the end. Since this can’t be done at home, I understand why they can’t let you write anything down. However, I think it would be really hard to take a Java cert without writing anything down.

My thoughts

While I can’t do this, I think it is a good option for folks who have more space and/or live further away from a testing center. The not writing things down limitation would be hard though!

OCA 8 Book: Online Material and Practice Exams now available

If you’re one of the individuals who already purchased the e-book of our OCA 8 Study Guide, you might have noticed the online materials weren’t up yet. They went up today.

If you’ve ordered a printed book, we are getting close. is currently predicting delivery between January 27th and February 25th. We will post again on this blog as soon as we hear of an actual US delivery. First printed book delivery was reported on January 31st.

We are also doing a book promotion at CodeRanch next week. Ask us a question and be entered to win a copy of the book.


What do the online materials include?

  1. 3 mock/practice exams (60 questions each)
  2. 2 sets of flashcards
  3. A searchable glossary
  4. Electronic versions of the assessment test and end of chapter review questions from the book

How do I register for access?

Step 1 – buy the book. Once you have an electronic copy or printed copy of the book in hand, it is easy. When going to the Sybex test bank site, you are asked to supply/create an access code. Creating one is easy. You are asked for your name and email. You are also asked to answer a question that is easy if you have the book. (Like “what is the answer to question 3 in chapter 2” or “fill in the blank from the text of figure 2.4”). Then the access code is emailed to you. It came immediately when I tested it.

With the access code, you go back to the test bank site and create an account. You get to use your email as username and the password of your choice making it easy to remember. Then you are in!

How is the test engine?

This is a new test engine from Wiley. Older books came with a CD that had a Flash based system for questions. While I’m sure this is very nice for non-coding exams, the old engine only showed a handful of lines of code on screen which was bad for programming exams. I’m SO glad they improved this before our book came out.

The new test engine is beautiful. It shows roughly as much code as the real exam. It has a timer so you know how long you have taken. (It counts up instead of down like the real exam does, but you know how long the real exam gives you so this is fine. It’s actually a good thing since Oracle likes to change the length of time allowed for the exam.) The engine lets you bookmark questions for review; as does the real exam. The whole system is intuitive and nice to use.

Author advice

  1. The engine lets you choose how many questions you want in the practice exam. I recommend taking them with the 60 questions each that are indented. A lot of thought went into which questions appear together on a practice exam and you’ll get the most realistic experience.
  2. The flashcards allow you to choose sequential or random order. I recommend random order. Just like you’d shuffle your physical flashcards to make sure you remember best.