Troubleshooting and Tips for SAP Certification Exams via Questionmark Browser
Last Friday, I took my SuccessFactors Employee Central -SAP Certified Application Associate exam using the SAP Certification Hub. To say things did not go smoothly is an understatement! (haha) I was already anxious/nervous enough to take the exam, so the last thing I needed was any “surprises”. My exam was scheduled for 9am, so as they advise, I logged in to the Certification Hub and launched my exam 15 minutes early (they give you time to connect to the proctor, have them check your ID and do you system/testing area check with the proctor as well as help should any issues arise). However, things did not go well for me the first time…..nor the second….or even the third.(haha)
When you sign up for an exam, they provide you with several helpful tips to set up and prepare. These include:
Test your equipment prior to your exam date. Utilize the System Test provided on this home page. Contact Technical Support if you receive any warnings about your equipment. Examinations are secure and remotely proctored. You will be required to use certain technology to take the exam:
- Questionmark Secure browser that you will need to download and install
- Microphone or headset
- Adobe Flash
- Broadband connection
I followed everything to the letter, performed my “conduct system test” (a button on the same page…did you click the one above? Sorry…it’s not real. haha) and passed the “check” with flying colors (HINT: if you do not have a webcam set up/connected, it will just sit and wait with no communication back to you on the screen. Once webcam was connected, each “check” showed “loading…” and then “passed” very quickly. I think this needs some work on their end!) In fact, leading up to my exam on Friday, I tested my laptop each day just to make sure.
So back to 8:45 am on my exam day as I logged in….the first thing the Questionmark server does is a whole “new” system check. Again, there is NO on-screen information during this, so you pretty much have to sit and hope something is going on. After what seemed like 3 minutes or so, the screen showed all the test. It was the same as the other “system check” you can do, but this time it showed an error on one check…it said I had “IE8 compatibility mode” set (this will be important later). As I was using Firefox, I had no idea what this meant. I did see a “connect to proctor” button, so I clicked that. This took me to a new page…all white….except “waiting for proctor…” sitting in the center….and just sitting….no indication anything was going on at all. I waited a few minutes. It was close to 9am then, so I closed out of the exam browser and used the “contact technical support” link for “live chat” with a support agent.
First up was Blaine. He was helpful and had me check a few things…launching from Chrome….launching from IE…..he checked the proctor queue and said he never saw me in it when I tried again. Soon however, it was 9:15 am and my exam window had passed. They give you only 15 minutes passed your exam time to sort out technical issues. Blaine said he was sorry but to reschedule. My appointment was marked “Abandon_TI” (abandoned due to technical issue). I immediately jumped back on the Certification Hub and was able to reschedule for 10 am. While waiting I checked everything I could.
Second time around, I logged in at 9:45am and already saw the exact same issues. I jumped right on technical support live chat. This time, I got Fredrick. I explained the situation and what happened before. I will say that he was fairly useless (no disrespect meant), but he was honest about it. He said there was pretty much nothing he could do on his end as it was likely some issue on mine, so he said he would have to escalate it. He said it would be at least 60 minutes till I would get an email and then go from there. 60 MINUTES?!?!? I went back to trying some things as I still had about 20 minutes left. Same thing ….”waiting for proctor….” and nothing happening. Before time was up, I got another tech agent…this time Blaine again and let him know what was going on. He did say to turn off any anti-virus/firewall software I had running, so that was helpful. He said this time to just try to launch and sit on the “waiting” screen up till I ran out of time (just to make sure it was not an issue of the proctor queue). I did that…same thing….timed out…”Abandon_TI”. Again, I rescheduled…this time for 2:30 PM…and yes, I was pretty steamed at this point. I went to lunch and waited.
Third time is a charm? Nope. 2:15 PM, I logged in and tried to launch the exam but even that link was not working. I contacted support and let them know I was just “giving it a try” as I was still waiting on my email from support. Nicolas (Nick) helped me this time. Also, this was during the time on Friday when all across the US, domain servers were being hit with a large DDOS attack from hackers. So I could not even launch the exam at all…just getting “error 1001: invalid login” over and over. Nick and I agreed to just try again later….much later. I “deleted” my appointment and scheduled a FOURTH time that day…this time for 5:00 PM. I was determined to get the exam done TODAY! (haha)
During that time, I received the following in an email direct from Questionmark support, and it helped me tremendously….which makes you wonder why this information is not part of the initial information they provide when setting up everything for the exam. (?!?!??!) Anyways….here is what they sent…
Getting stuck at the waiting for proctor screen can have many different causes. It is most often caused by third party software on the client computer blocking the specific communication necessary to make that connection, even if the ports are otherwise open. Some examples of this type of software are things like Websense, Symantec DLP, or certain third party firewall apps. It can also be caused by attempting to take the exam on a computer that is connected to a company network, as the network monitoring and blocking settings are usually out of the end user’s control in those environments.
We advise that you take all of the steps below, and then try again.
- Verify that your version of Flash is up to date. The system requires at least version 17. You can check your version of Flash here:
- Adjust the Global Flash settings.
- Right click on the Flash window (or go to Control Panel -> Flash Player, and run it there)
- Select “Global Settings”
- Click the “Camera and Mic” tab
- Click the “Camera and Mic settings by site” button.
- Check for the following sites in the list, and if not there add them:
- Set those sites to “Allow”
- Check for blocked ports on your client environment.
- Go to the following URL:
- Scroll down to “Port tests”.
- Run the port tests.
- Verify passed. If not passed, make a note of the blocked ports to send to your IT department.
- Go to the following URL:
- Turn off all popup blockers and any real-time malware, spyware, or virus scanning software, and any firewall or port blocking software. This includes software such as Symantec DLP, and Websense, which blocks specific types of communication over otherwise open ports.
- Turn off Compatibility View completely in Internet Explorer. Even if you are using a different web browser, the Questionmark Secure Browser that opens for your exam uses the settings within Internet Explorer, and Compatibility View will cause issues.
Turned out my issue were:
- Adobe Flash was not up-to-date nor enabled (I had it turned off for security reasons.) Soooo although their “check” makes sure you have Adobe Flash installed, it does NOT check that it is enabled.
- Did you notice #5 above? It does NOT matter what browser you use to click your “start exam” link, it will ALWAYS try to launch Questionmark in MS Internet Explorer! So THAT is where the “IE 8 Compatibility” check comes from.
After following those much better “tips” and waiting for the day’s DDOS attacks to end, I was finally able to login the SAP Certification Hub and launch my exam at 4:45 pm. This tiime, everything went perfectly. The “system check” passed every check…and actually the page looked better with Adobe enabled for some reason. I then clicked the “connect to proctor” button, and this time got a whole different looking page than before…not to mention seeing myself in my webcam and the proctor as they connected by video as well. With that….the exam began.
Oh!….and I did pass.(haha) Just hoping these tips help others and save them some of the frustration and anxiety I went through on exam day. As for passing the exam, well….you are on your own there….study hard!!! As always, I will keep blogging if you keep reading them. Till next time….