Developer Experience

Remote AWS Certifications: are they really that different from in-person?

All the things I wish I would have thought of before I took my AWS certification remotely.
Kelly Briceno Featured New Team Member
Kelly Briceno | Apr 13 2022
3 min read

Whether you are taking a foundational certification such as AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner or a more advanced certification such as AWS Solutions Architect Professional, taking an exam in a home setting can be a new experience for many.

Image source: AWS Certification

It’s no secret that remote work has become the new norm. With remote work comes remote training and taking certifications online versus in person. As someone who previously took all exams in person, I’ve taken and passed 3 AWS certification exams from the comfort of my bedroom.

There are many benefits of taking an exam at home:

  • You can choose the exact time and date you would like to take your exam.
  • Certain exams have 24-hour availability to take them which is certainly convenient.
  • Taking an exam in an environment you are familiar with and comfortable with removes that added stress.

These are my tips and tricks for studying/taking an AWS certification online:

Step One: Book the Exam

So you’ve studied all you can study and have taken multiple practice exams to prepare. If you haven’t, I highly recommend A Cloud Guru! Your next step is booking your remote exam. Upon signing into your AWS certification account you will see a button for scheduling your exam which will bring you to a page with all the exams you can take. AWS uses two different vendors for administering the exams remotely. I have only ever scheduled my virtual exams through Pearson VUE so this will be through that perspective although I don’t believe PSI has many differences.

Select the exam you would like to take along with “schedule with Pearson Vue.” This will take you to the Pearson VUE page where you will select to take your exam online at home and proceed with the steps and scheduling a date/time to take your exam as well as paying for the exam.

Step Two: System Test

You’ve scheduled your exam now and have read through the confirmation email sent by Pearson VUE. Now I recommend running the system test provided by Pearson VUE as your exam will be timed and proctored. I suggest doing this system test twice, once a few days before the exam and another 1 hour prior to the exam just to be sure everything is running smoothly. The system test is to make sure your network connection/microphone and camera are all working fine. Computers that require VPNs may have significant issues with the system tests. You will have a proctor the day of the exam watching and listening via your mic/camera so ensure that these two devices are updated and ready to go. Yes they will be able to see you so maybe wear pants that day.

Step Three: Tips & Tricks

I recommend hopping on your exam link 30 mins before your exam. This will help you download and start the VUE screen-sharing application. This application will ensure all apps and tabs on your computer are closed. You will show the proctor your ID and take pictures of the left, right, front, and back of the environment where you will be taking your test. I have taken all of mine on my bed in my bedroom. If it works, it works, right?

On the day of the exam, follow these tips below for a smooth experience.

Key Tips:

  • There are no breaks for online exams so make sure you use the bathroom beforehand.
  • Don’t bring any snacks or drinks to your area.
  • IMPORTANT! If there are any other shared users on your laptop, make sure they are logged out and have all their applications/tabs closed. If not, you will be clicking the re-test button on the Pearson VUE application wondering why it is still reporting that applications are open if all your applications are closed (personal experience with under 1 min left to start my exam).
  • Make sure you are in a very quiet location (I was even afraid to sneeze.) If a proctor hears any noise of someone nearby they may warn you or even stop your exam.
  • Do not move out of the camera view you will get a warning once but that’s it.
  • Be in a comfortable place with little to no distractions. This includes no posters, monitors, sticky notes, etc.
  • Center yourself beforehand to get rid of any nerves. Take a few deep breaths.
  • Remove any posters with instructional writing or government-required posters.

Step Four: Pass the Exam!

Overall taking an exam online in the comfort of your own home opens the door to so many possibilities of obtaining more certifications with less effort. Once you find the environment that works best for you and a good pre-exam ritual you can accomplish many great things. Best of luck in all your certification journeys!

Kelly Briceno Featured New Team Member
Kelly Briceno