Red Hat certifications are an excellent way for IT professionals to validate their mastery of Red Hat products. Professionals with Red Hat certifications are in demand because the Red Hat certification process involves a rigorous, hands-on evaluation of Red Hat technologies.
Traditionally, these exams took place at designated testing facilities or as part of in-person classroom training, but this year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Red Hat accelerated their efforts to offer exams remotely, and in August, made several of their certification exams available in this format. While most testing centers have reopened, remote exams are a convenient way to attempt a Red Hat certification for many of the certifications.
As of the writing of this post, the following certification exams are available remotely:
- Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) exam (EX200)
- Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (EX294)
- Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Administration exam (EX280)
- Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Application Development exam (EX288)
- Red Hat Certified Specialist in Virtualization exam (EX318)
- Red Hat Certified Specialist in Deployment and Systems Management exam (EX403)
- Red Hat Certified Specialist in Ansible Automation exam (EX407)
For the most up-to-date list, please visit https://www.redhat.com/en/services/certification/ways-to-test.
Preparing Your Remote Test Environment
In this blog, I’ll point out a few of the key items you should be aware of when taking a remote exam with Red Hat. The purpose of this blog is not to help you prepare for the exams themselves, but rather to prepare your remote test environment.
Taking a Red Hat exam remotely requires you to have a computer that is booted on Red Hat’s remote test boot image. The instructions for creating this boot image and the system requirements can be found in the document on this Red Hat site.
While this document provides good instruction, the responsibility for ensuring your system is running and passes the system checks come exam time is on you. If your system fails these checks when it is time for the exam, you quite likely will lose the exam voucher that you purchased – but you can avoid this with a little advanced preparation.
Here are some important tips from my experience with the exams:
Tip 1: Prepare Early, Early, Early
There are several steps involved in getting your system ready for a Red Hat exam, and most of them can be done and verified without even scheduling an exam, so don’t wait until the last minute.
You’ll need to prepare a boot image on a USB drive or SD card, and you’ll want to make sure that system passes the verification checks. If you’re even considering taking a Red Hat certification exam remotely, I recommend downloading the remote exam instructions at the link above and creating your boot image. You can then boot the test environment, log into your Red Hat account, and run through the system check. If you do this, you’ll have plenty of time to address any problems you may encounter with your environment. This also gives you time to reach out to Red Hat if you need assistance. I would highly recommend not even scheduling a remote exam until you have validated your test environment.
Tip 2: Use Wires
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While most of us use wireless accessories in our day-to-day work (network, keyboards, mouse, etc.), for the exam, it is best to have everything wired. Remember: The exam boot environment is running on a small image and may not have the appropriate drivers for your wireless devices.
Red Hat says your wireless network may work, but they don’t guarantee it, and again, it is your responsibility to make sure it works, so play it safe and directly attach everything. In my case, I ran the exam off of my Macbook, so I needed to purchase an Apple USB ethernet adapter. I had it delivered, which took a few days, which is why Tip 1 is so important.
Tip 3: External Camera
One of the system requirements from Red Hat is that you have two video cameras attached to your system, and one of them must be an external cabled camera. The reason for this is they will use that camera to have you scan the area around your test system to ensure there aren’t any notes or other items that might compromise the integrity of the exam.
One of the things that caught me a bit off guard was the amount of demand for external video cameras in a COVID-19 world where many people were suddenly working from home, so it took a little time to find a compatible camera that was available. Again, see Tip 1.
Tip 4: Find a Clean, Quiet Place to Test
As I mentioned in the previous tip, you’ll be asked to do a video scan of your test area with the test proctor prior to starting your exam, as well as at some random time during the exam, so it’s best that the exam area is as clean as you can make it. If your home office is like mine, it may not be the best place to take the exam.
Try to find a place where you can close the door and not be interrupted by the kids or the dog. A sparsely furnished room would be best if you have that option. For one of my exams, I was lucky enough to have a completely empty room in my house, so I set up a folding table and a chair and ran a long network cable. This made for a great testing environment.
You probably won’t have that kind of option in your home, but try to make it as easy for the exam proctor to have confidence in the integrity of your test area as you can.
Tip 5: Run the System Check a Few Times
My final tip is to run through the booting of your test environment and the system check several times before the exam. Taking Red Hat certification exams is stressful enough, and you don’t need to be worrying about making sure you’ve got the exam environment running correctly, so why not do it a few times in advance.
I usually test it out when I’ve first built my boot image and have all the wired equipment in place. I’ll then test it again the morning before my exam to confirm everything. This gives me time to contact Red Hat should an issue come up. Finally, I’ll boot up the exam environment and run the system check early on exam day as well, generally about 30 minutes prior. You likely won’t be able to access the exam that early, but at least you’ll know your system is ready.
Why Should I Take a Red Hat Exam Remotely?
Red Hat remote exams are an excellent option. There’s usually a good amount of availability, and they allow you to take the test from the comfort and safety of your home. With a little early preparation, you’ll be ready to conquer the exams, and add a Red Hat certification to your tool kit.
If you have any questions about taking a Red Hat exam remotely, please reach out to Perficient’s Red Hat exam expert Dave Ellis.