This week I took the entry-level Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate (JNCIA-JUNOS) exam, JN0-101, partly to fulfill a training objective for work, and partly because it has been on my “I really should get on and do that” list for about four years now. I passed pretty convincingly despite not really studying for it, but the real reason I’m mentioning it is that I had to book the exam through Prometric.
I don’t recall the last time I had to book an exam through Prometric. Well, I do, sort of – Cisco exams were administered by Prometric up until mid-2007. But before then, Cisco for a while offered exams through both Pearson VUE and Prometric, and I chose VUE every time. I still have my Prometric testing ID burned into my brain because Cisco used to use that as the Login ID for their certification tracking system. Prometric is, to me, the granddaddy of test-taking providers, originally known as Drake Prometric before being bought by Sylvan Learning (and becoming Sylvan Prometric) then Thomson Corporation (becoming Thomson Prometric) then Education Testing Services (now just “Prometric”). Old time CCIEs may recall that the CCIE Written exam was for a long time just known by candidates as the “Drake test” – infamy indeed.
It was with some amusement then that as I logged into the Juniper Cert Manager tool to confirm my new certification, I saw a message:
Change to Exam Delivery Process – Juniper Announces Pearson VUE as New Certification Exam Delivery Partner
Juniper Networks Certification Program (JNCP) is pleased to announce Pearson VUE as our new, certification exam delivery partner! For more information on the Pearson VUE announcement, please access the JNCP News Web page, which includes a link to a detailed FAQ
Yes indeed – as of August 1, 2012 you can take Juniper exams with VUE or Prometric, and as of October 1 2012, VUE will be the only place you can take them.
Break Out The Champagne!
Deep down, I guess I don’t really care who provides the exam so long as I have access to a testing center, but if I project my shallowness on this news I have to quietly celebrate. I remember when VUE was a relatively fresh-faced youngster on the scene. In the late 90s and early 2000s, my memory of the difference between a VUE and a Prometric exam was like night and day – my recollection is that the Prometric delivery was old, clunky, and slow – maybe because the testing centers had been doing Prometric for longer, the hardware was often older, and the OS was older still. VUE in comparison I recall as being newer, faster, cleaner. I’m curious if anybody else remembers the difference too. Still, these days everything has been upgraded and I figured that it wouldn’t make much difference to me to take my Juniper exam with Prometric. And in terms of the actual exam, that was probably true.
I wish the same could be said about the Prometric booking system. To book an exam you have to be logged in to their system. I tried logging in to Prometric with my trusty old Cisco testing ID which is burned into my memory – but no dice. Maybe I forgot my password, so I tried a password reset. That claimed to work, but when I tried logging back in the system rejected me again. Try another reset, this time greeted by a server error. Rinse and repeat, and again the successful password change leads to a failed login. But wait – the web page has my name at the top of the screen. I never gave it my name – which means it found my login after all. I can click on the link to view my profile – and there’s my address and phone number but, erm, First Name and Last Name are blank. And uneditable. Riiight. After a few minutes, this all disappeared – presumably a session timing out somewhere. Either way, something is very confusing. Reset password again, and once more I can get access to my details – and I can even, apparently, make changes to the fields that are editable. And then I timed out again. There’s no way I’m booking anything with the account state like this, so it’s time to contact Prometric.
I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to find a phone number for Prometric using their web site, but, uh, good luck. Using their “Contact Us” page, there are various links to online forms for refund requests etc., then we get to the bit I want:
Email us? No thanks, I’d like an answer now please.
EChat? Perfect! Oh, weekends only. Great. Why? Next.
Call Us? Ok! I need to choose my testing sponsor in order to be told the phone number, so I select Juniper and click through to see this page (click to enlarge):
Did you catch the contact details I was clicking through to find? I didn’t. Looking back later, I discovered the link I needed was actually there, but it wasn’t presented front and center like I expected from what I perceived as the results of a search. Instead it’s here:
Obvious, right? Anyway, I managed to find a number and finally get through to somebody. They couldn’t find my long established testing ID in the system, even though the website clearly could (since it dug up my name and address). Maybe they could find my account by email address? No joy. I agreed to create a new account while on the phone, but the new account attempt was denied because – it told me – my email address was already associated with another account. You know, the account that their customer care team couldn’t find. That’s just great.
In the end I created a new account using another email. I have kissed goodbye to my long term well memorized ID and have a new one that I would have started to commit to memory only, well, it seems kind of futile now that Juniper is moving to VUE.
Misery Loves Company
Juniper it seems is not the only one who has been jumping ship recently.
- HP moved their ExpertOne exams from Prometric to VUE on Feb 1, 2012.
- CompTIA moved to VUE effective July 9, 2012.
- The Linux Professional Institute moved to exclusive delivery by VUE on Jul 1, 2012.
It’s not all roses for VUE of course – they lost Microsoft testing in 2007, which must have been a huge hit for them. I took all my MCSE NT4.0 exams with VUE if I recall correctly.
All VUE, All The Time
With Juniper and Cisco both using VUE exclusively going forward it looks like it’ll be a while before Prometric sees any of my money. My past experience with Prometric had them set in my mind as being inferior to VUE from a test-taking perspective; my more recent experience with Prometric’s “Customer Care” department and the Prometric.com web site didn’t really enhance my opinion of the company, so I guess I come out of this feeling relatively happy.
I did consider how I would feel if I were told that Cisco and VUE were both moving to Prometric, and honestly – just a gut reaction – it wasn’t good. In conclusion: Yay, Juniper!
My champagne glass is empty; could I get a refill please?