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Taking an online exam, what if everything goes south?

Life in big cities has many advantages and one of them is also having a testing center where you can take a Salesforce exam. 

The rest of us have two options — we can drive to a big city and take the exam there, or we can take an exam online.

For years I thought that only the first option was the right choice for me, and I have to admit that I had an irrational fear from taking the online exam. 

Although I started being familiar with Salesforce in 2016, I only had one certificate until 2022, and I can say that a fear from taking the exam online is probably one of the reasons.

I have to be honest, the first few years with Salesforce were definitely an Imposter Syndrome period, and only in 2018 I decided to start seriously preparing for my first exam, and I finally scheduled my exam and passed in late 2019.

The exam was the Admin 201 exam and I took it in a testing center that is a 2-hour drive from my home and I didn’t mind driving at all. When I finally got certified, I was super happy and I was sure I’ll try my next cert in just a few months… 

And then 3 months later, we had the biggest virus outbreak in the last 100 years - I’m sure you guys remember that period too… I’ll be honest, taking the exam was the last thing on my mind during the first year of pandemic.

And even if I wanted to take it, I couldn’t, because the testing centers were closed. And again, there was this irrational fear of taking the online exam.

My biggest fear was, what if something technical goes south? I’m not really a techy person and I can’t have anyone else at home when I’m taking the exam that I can ask for help… It was just easier to go to the center and have someone there who can help immediately. 

In 2022, I finally decided that I should finally start getting more certs. My knowledge really increased with years, and it would be nice to get confirmations in the form of certifications as well. 

I decided to take Service Cloud first, and again I sat in my car and went to a testing center…

Because of many construction works on the roads, a 2-hour drive turned into more than 4 hours and I barely made it on time. It was so stressful, I was hungry, thirsty and so stressed out. And in that state of mind I sat and I took my exam. I was so close to passing, but I failed…

Driving to Salesforce testing center

I drove home again for almost 4 hours and I was so pissed at myself… I mean, I could just wake up, take the exam in one or two hours and normally continue with my day, but this way I lost my entire day and I still didn’t get a cert. I couldn’t help but wonder would I get it if I took the exam at home?

That’s when I realized that even if something technical goes south, it’s still better than losing my entire day on the road. Since then, I scheduled and took many exams from my home, and I got additional 5 Salesforce certifications. Almost every time I took the exam, everything was technically smooth and perfect.

But this one time, everything that could go wrong actually went wrong, and I’ll just share my experience here so if something like that starts happening to you, you would know that there’s no reason to panic. 

I wish I knew that because it would save me from mini heart attacks.

I would just like to note that this happened when Kryterion exams used Sentinel software that locks your screen once you launch your exam. Right now, Respondus Lockdown Browser software is used, and it works the same way, once you launch your exam, you should not close it until the exam is completed. 

So this time, I launched my exam and I got the instruction to be patient and to wait for a proctor as it was a busy time of the day. That never happened before that (and luckily never after that). It was evening in my time zone which is central European, so every time after that I scheduled the exam to be in the morning.

So, I was there waiting, and waiting, 15 minutes, 30 minutes… I started being anxious, but I could not do anything about it as my screen was locked. Suddenly, things on my screen started happening, and I hoped I’ll start my exam soon. But then my screen froze and I was unable to click anything. I didn’t want to exit, but there was nothing left to do. At this point I don’t even remember did I panic and exit the Sentinel or it shut down by itself, but anyways, it was no good. 

I immediately went to my Chrome browser to log in to Webassesor to launch my exam again, but there was no option to launch anymore. That makes sense as at this point it was already over an hour from my scheduled exam time. 

So I looked for support and that’s where the magic happened. I expected that I’ll get my response in hours or something like that, but then I noticed that there’s a Chat option for urgent and time sensitive matters. I immediately started chatting with an agent and they were lightning fast and helpful, and I was able to launch the exam again once they’ve set it all up.

Taking an online exam what if everything goes south

They also apologized for waiting for a proctor, and I couldn’t avoid waiting when I launched my exam for the second time. This time it was maybe 15-20 min and I got instructions from a proctor to show my ID as well as a full, 360 degree, pan of the testing area.

After I completed this, I started my exam and I finally relaxed and concentrated fully on questions.

When I was approximately half way through my exam, my laptop suddenly died. That’s when I realized that it was unplugged from a charger. At this point I really got a mini heart attack, like what should I do now? 

I felt easier when I was able to turn the laptop on and then I realized that it probably got unplugged from a charger at the point when I had to show 360 degrees of my surrounding area with the front camera, so I recommend being careful with it. 

This time, I knew right away where to go and who to contact, but I didn’t know if my answers were saved and honestly, I expected that I’ll have to start my exam from the beginning.

I started chatting with an agent and again the help was lightning fast. I got the instruction to log into my Webassesor account, relaunch my exam again after they set it up, and they said I can continue where I stopped and that my answers were saved. 

I was so happy and relieved that I didn't have to lose any additional time. I completed my exam as quickly as I could because at this point, I just wanted to get it done - I didn’t even check the questions I left for a review.

I didn’t care if I passed or failed, I just wanted it to be over.

Unfortunately, I didn’t pass that exam as it was just one of those days when everything went south, and it would be really weird to pass it after all the obstacles. I passed the exam later, and really every other time when I took the exams, the experience was smooth and perfect. At this point, I’m proud to say I have 6 Salesforce certificates, and it would be really annoying that I had to drive to a testing center every time I had my exam.

But days like these can happen to anyone and I’m sharing the experience so you would know that if things start going south during your online exam as well, there’s really nothing that a good support can’t do to help you, and you should not worry about it at all.

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Zrna Anicic

Zrna Aničić

Zrna is a part of the internal Focus on Force team. In the Salesforce Ecosystem since 2016. 5x certified and a Trailhead Ranger. Based in Europe and working remotely.


  1. Jason Wong

    Did two exams so far via online proctored. Initially, i had some fears about the strict criteria, but it turns out to be a smooth experience. The flexibility of time slot means I can book any time once I am ready.

  2. Priyanshi Patidar

    When I started giving my admin exam, in the middle the exam stopped and the procter said that you are moving out of camera. I got a little nervous and though that they might cancel my exam, the exam didn’t resumed for 5 min but later I was able to give it and clear it.

    1. Sandeep Focus Team

      Hi Priyanshi, First of all we would like to congratulate you on passing the Admin exam and thank you for sharing your experience during the official Salesforce Admin exam. We appreciate your openness in discussing this and providing valuable insights to our users. Encountering an interruption during an exam can indeed be unnerving, and we understand the initial concern you had when the proctor alerted you about potentially moving out of the camera’s view.

      It is impressive how you managed to remain composed and not panic in such a situation. Keeping a calm mindset is crucial in effectively dealing with unexpected challenges during exams, and your ability to do so is commendable.

      Instances like the one you described can occur due to the stringent proctoring measures in place to uphold the integrity and fairness of the exam process. The proctor’s intervention was likely a precautionary action to ensure compliance with the exam guidelines.

      We are glad to hear that the interruption was resolved, allowing you to resume and successfully clear the exam. Your experience and advice will undoubtedly be valuable for other users preparing for the Salesforce Admin exam.

      If you have any further insights, advice, or questions please do not hesitate to share them. We are here to support you and provide assistance as needed.

      Thank you once again for sharing your experience, and we wish you continued success in your certification endeavours!

      Best regards,
      FoF Team