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How to Prepare for the ServSafe Manager Exam and Pass the First Time

I am part owner of two Quick Service Restaurants (QSR). I hold a ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification.

ServSafe provides food safety certifications for managers and food handlers.

ServSafe provides food safety certifications for managers and food handlers.

How to Pass the ServSafe Manager Exam

ServSafe® is a program administered by the National Restaurant Association devoted to teaching and certifying responsible food service measures. Many state and local governments require food safety certification if food is being served to the public. Servsafe offers certifications for both food handlers and food managers. The ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification is for restaurant managers, also called the person-in-charge.

If you fail this exam, you can retake it whenever you feel ready. However, if you fail a second time, you won't be able to retake it for 60 days. So you want to ensure you are ready to pass on your first try.

"Our retesting policy states an examinee may take the exam the first two times within a 30-day period, if necessary. If three or more attempts are required, the examinee must wait at least 60 days from their last attempt. No more than four attempts are allowed in a 12-month period."

A 70% or higher score is required to pass the exam, which has 90 questions. Eighty of the questions are graded, while 10 are pilot questions used for research purposes. The certification is valid for five years.

Online Proctoring

Food safety certification exams have to be proctored. When I took my first certification exam, I had to ask around to find a proctor. He gave me the study materials I needed, and then I took the exam with about a dozen other people at a location he chose.

Fortunately, you don't need to go to so much trouble anymore. You can now take the exam at home using online proctoring offered by ProctorU. Online proctoring requires a webcam, microphone, and a stable Internet connection. A proctor will monitor you as you take the exam using your webcam and microphone to ensure you don't cheat. These are the steps I took to sign up for and pass a proctored ServSafe exam.

You can take ServSafe tests from home using online proctoring from ProctorU.

You can take ServSafe tests from home using online proctoring from ProctorU.

This Is How I Passed the First Time

I took the online ServSafe course that comes with an exam code. To buy this course, I clicked SERVSAFE MANAGER on the top menu, scrolled down, and clicked Buy Products. I clicked Buy Now under Manager Online Training and Certification Exams. Then I purchased the SERVSAFE MANAGER COURSE WITH ONLINE PROCTORED EXAM, which cost $179.

If you fail the exam and need to retake it or if you have prepared for the exam another way, you can buy the SERVSAFE MANAGER EXAM WITH ONLINE PROCTORING BUNDLE, which costs $99. This version doesn't include the online course.

After completing the Servsafe course twice, I watched a Bootcamp available for free on YouTube. The channel is called Gerson Puig, M.Ed. The videos aren't in playlists, so I made a playlist of my own and saved each video in the Bootcamp into it. The videos are titled like this all the way from #1 to #12:

  • #1-of-12: Boot Camp - ServSafe Manager Training Videos
  • #2-of-12: Boot Camp - ServSafe Manager Training Videos

The ServSafe course is very helpful but can feel overwhelming. The Bootcamp focuses on the essentials and made it easy for me to remember the wide variety of temperatures I needed to know to do well on the test. This Bootcamp was uploaded a year ago, which means it is a little outdated. Continual changes are being made to the food code. Be aware of these changes while taking the Bootcamp.

Next, I did lots of practice tests. I used an app made by Clanelite, which is available for Android and Apple devices with seven tests with 30 questions each. I ran it in practice mode. I went through each of these tests three times. By the third time, I remembered almost all the answers.

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I also took the online practice tests available at Boston Food Safety, the free questions offered by Union Test Prep, and some of the free resources available from North Webster High School's Food Safety Home Study Program. I didn't register for the test until I reached the point where I could get almost all the answers right on these tests, which took about two weeks. I also went through this "Certification Numbers Only" practice test available on YouTube three times, including the morning of the exam.

Food Manager Certification Numbers Only Practice Test

Registering for the Exam With ProctorU

After purchasing the exam, I received an email from ServSafe with the subject line "Order Confirmation and your Exam Access Code." Don't delete this email because you will need it to register for your exam with ProctorU. The email has a click here to register link. When you click this link, you will be taken to ProctorU. You have to create an account before you schedule your exam. When I registered, there were lots of available dates and times. Choose a date and time that works for you.

Running the ProctorU Equipment Test

You should run the ProctorU equipment test days before the exam. This will test your microphone, webcam, and Internet connection. To run this test, search for the ProctorU extension online and install it on either Chrome or Firefox. These are the only compatible browsers.

  • If the Internet connection test fails, you can bypass your Wifi by plugging an ethernet cable into an ethernet jack. An ethernet cable provides a more stable connection because traffic doesn't have to transmit over wireless signals to and from your computer like with Wifi.
  • You can buy an ethernet adapter if your computer doesn't have an ethernet port. If you plan to use a laptop, odds are high that it won't have one.
  • Turn off your Wifi whenever you use an ethernet cable. Otherwise, you may still be connected through Wifi rather than directly.

Running the equipment test well before your test allows you to fix any issues that might arise. Rerun the equipment test about two hours before your exam to ensure everything is still working.

Plug an ethernet cable into an ethernet jack to bypass Wi-Fi

Plug an ethernet cable into an ethernet jack to bypass Wi-Fi

To turn off Wi-Fi if using an ethernet cable, click the Wi-Fi icon in the bottom right corner of Windows next to battery, then click Wi-Fi next to Airplane Mode. When it is no longer highlighted in blue, it is off

To turn off Wi-Fi if using an ethernet cable, click the Wi-Fi icon in the bottom right corner of Windows next to battery, then click Wi-Fi next to Airplane Mode. When it is no longer highlighted in blue, it is off

ProctorU Exam Day

After you schedule your exam on ProctorU, you will see a countdown timer to your exam time. This will continue to run until exam time. Log in to ProctorU about 15 minutes before your exam and monitor the countdown timer. Make sure your speakers and microphone are on because this is how you will communicate with the proctor. And if you are using an Ethernet cable, ensure your Wifi is turned off.

Click start when the timer reaches zero. Follow the instructions, which include downloading and running the LogMeIn software. When that software is running, your proctor can speak to you. They will ask for access to your computer and will do a lot of the setup for you.

Have a driver's license or other valid, non-expired picture ID ready. Keep your cellphone with you because the proctor will ask you to put the camera in selfie mode to show your room and desk. You must have a clear desk and be alone in the room. Keep all books and papers out of reach. Otherwise, the proctor will ask you to clear the space. You must also have your back to the main entrance to the room so that the proctor can ensure no one comes in during your exam.

Make sure to have the login information for your Servsafe account written down. Don't depend on account information saved in the browser because it won't autofill with ProctorU's software. The proctor will direct you to sign in to your Servsafe account so that they can begin your test. Once the proctor has ensured you can't cheat, they will start the test. Once you have finished, you can click the Finish button.

When I finished, there were instructions to ask the proctor to enter my access code and click Finish. She told me that clicking Finish was all that was needed. Don't close out immediately because the proctor will chat with you first and then let you know when you can disconnect.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 LT Wright

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