Do you believe that closed book exams where you have to go write the exam in a center is the best approach for administering certification exams for professionals?
I personally think this approach is not very practical given that we are now in an era of advanced technology.
Why Closed Book?
In real life, if you encounter an issue or forget something, you can google it and/or refer to your library for seeking information. How is this any different for an exam that is supposed to be based on your experience in a certain domain? Why does it need to be closed book? In fact, finding information in timely manner is a skill by itself.
If the exam is experience based, then I suspect no matter how many references the candidate has open in front of them, they won’t be able to complete or pass the exam within the given time frame if they do not deeply understand the material and have solid experience in that domain.
Why the Stress?
The stress of taking a day off, heading to a testing center, getting checked as if you are crossing boarders has a negative impact in so many ways.
Does the Closed Book / In-Person Strategy add credibility to the certification ?
It might but in my humble opinion it is very minimal. The credibility of a certificate stems from:
What triggered the idea of this blog is the day I sat for the advanced level exam for the Professional Scrum Master (PSM II) certification. It was a 30 question (Multiple Choice / True or False) online exam that you have to complete in 90 minutes. While I did pass,and it is not proctored, I assure you that I barely completed the exam on time and didn’t have the chance nor saw value in opening any reference book because the questions were scenario based, lengthy and fully dependent on the candidate’s experience so if I didn’t have an in depth understanding of the Scrum framework combined with practical experience, I would have certainly failed.
People might say that 30 questions to be completed in 90 minutes sounds reasonable. Well, you can’t take the number of questions as a measure for time when you get a lengthy scenario based question with 5 choices in which you need to analyze each choice in details in order to conclude the best answer. The questions were much more difficult and tough than most of the exams I’ve ever written and it tested my knowledge and experience beyond any text book. On the bright side, I had the luxury to do the exam on a weekend out of my own place and comfort zone which, mentally and physically, made a big difference.
Many highly reputable organizations like scrum.org offer online exams and I believe PMI too is heading towards that direction in terms of giving candidates the option of sitting for proctored exams online from the comfort of their own home (With certain rules and regulations).