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Feedback on the online CLD experience

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Feedback on the online CLD experience

I took the CLD exam online last week and wanted to post about the experience for the benefit of others. The online exam is a great option if you cannot get to an exam centre, but it is not without drawbacks. The person monitoring me had to be very  attentive as it is much harder to prevent cheating in this type of set up. My observations are below. I have tried to present them factually and make my personal comments obvious. After this experience I would consider taking an exam locally if the option was available, but if I have to travel to Newbury (only exam centre in the UK) then I would pick the online option again, particularly as I now know what to expect.

 

Setup  - The invigilator tells you what to do through the Live Chat.

  • Took around 30 minutes to get the set up sorted, although there was a break in the communication for a couple of minutes (connection was restored and the invigilator apologised).
  • Table must be totally clear except for computer equipment and drinks. My piece of white paper that I run the mouse on was not allowed so I had to find another mouse.
  • Will need to pan the camera round the room and over the desk.
  • Will also need to show ID to the camera – I had to do this twice.

 During the exam

  • You will be on camera continuously, and possibly microphone (I had to turn down my speakers due to the feedback). I could hear faint echoes of my keyboard taps.
  • Food is not allowed
  • You cannot use pen and paper, use Notepad instead.
  • You can take breaks, request via the Live chat or a request button. Screen is blanked, but the break is included in the exam time.
  • No one is allowed in the same room
  • No talking, whispering etc.
  • No covering of your mouth, even for a few seconds! This is hard to remember if you constantly put your hands on your chin or forehead
  • I was interrupted by the invigilator a lot
    • Any covering of the mouth or hand on chin
    • Commands to “Lower your camera” – even though the camera is fixed and had not moved. (I had to do this three times in 4 hours)
    • Any accidental flicking between tabs will cause questions.
    • I had timing announcements at 2 hrs and 1hr 30. None at other times! This was done via the LiveChat – see issues below.
  • There is no clock available – best to take a note of the computer time when you start. I think I finished 5 minutes early as I didn’t quite know when I started. (I could have asked the invigilator)

Issues

  • Only the initial QuickDrop commands work in the remote desktop session. You cannot do CTRL+SPACE then CTRL+T for example. Only the first CTRL+.. works, the second is captured by the browser. This opened a new tab in my case and I was told I would have to forfeit the exam if it kept happening. I was asked “May I see what you just clicked on please”. Everything is recorded, so I made a point of noting this issue in the exam LiveChat. This affected me briefly at the start of the exam as I had to unlearn my normal technique.
  • The interruptions occur via the LiveChat function which makes odd things happen. When I was engrossed in coding the first thing I noticed was my right clicks or delete key stopped working, causing some odd behaviour. This was quite disruptive, but I guess they have to get your attention. Always close the LiveChat window afterwards.
  • Windows key shortcuts continue to work outside the browser window. E.g. docking left WINDOWS+LEFT_ARROW causes the browser window to dock, not a window within the remote desktop environment. This will lead to questions as it disrupts the invigilators observation.
  • ALT+TAB to switch windows also caused some odd behaviour depending on what had focus. I didn’t dare use it after a while.
  • The remote desktop connection can affect your idea of application performance. The remote desktop connection is not bad (I have a fast internet connection), but it does mean that occasionally things go blurry. It is hard to know if I had the timing performance correct as there is some lag in the update – this might cost you a point or two if you are not careful. (I could not see any issues in my code, fingers crossed.)
  • The screen size is pretty large on the remote machine, which makes it very small on a laptop. You then view it in a Chrome browser window. I could not run Chrome in full screen mode, so this led to pretty small text, particularly in the Help file. I ended up pretty close to the screen. Get the biggest monitor you can!

Personal observations

  • I felt that the LiveChat interruptions were very disruptive as I lost my concentration whenever they occurred. This lost me many minutes. I had finished the mock exams in 3.5 hours, but needed the full 4 hours for the real deal. I even felt that looking down or away from the screen would cause a question which made me very nervous about doing it as I didn't want to be interrupted and lose my focus.
  • I found it hard to get started as I had several comments from the invigilator (as you can see from the above) and this caused me to be overly conscious of my hand and eye movements. I often stare at the desk whilst thinking and being concerned about a penalty for this was quite distracting.
  • Don’t use common windows shortcuts, or at least try them out at the start.
  • When I work alone I sometimes speak through my code as it helps me to focus. Obviously I can’t do this in a normal exam situation and it is not allowed in the online exam. I lapsed once and was asked to read what I see without speaking.
  • The  several requests to “Lower my camera” resulted in me slumping to see the screen comfortably and I ended up with pretty bad back pain.

 

I hope someone finds this useful and I would add the caveat that this is a sample size of one and your experience will differ.

 

Best wishes

 

Ray

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Re: Feedback on the online CLD experience

I took the online CLD exam about a month ago and I share your experience. I was great I had the option since I had to take the exam before the end of the year and there were no venues offering it in my vicinity. In the end I passed the exam but I think I could have performed better without the added stress from the technical difficulties.

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