What is an online examination?
Online examination, also known as e-examination, enables examiners to conduct exams using the internet or a company-wide intranet for remote candidates. It requires candidates to answer questions within a pre-decided timeframe. The test window collapses once the exam is over, and institutes get real-time reports. Evaluators then assess the answers and grade accordingly. The fully automated system supports objective evaluation and helps generate results faster than in a traditional exam format.
Most online exams include answer processing modules, allowing evaluators to issue results moments after the candidates complete the test. However, evaluators assess the answers in-person for long-answer-type questions where results are not automated. The result of online exams is then conveyed to the candidates via email or published on the institute’s website.
Types of online exams
With advanced proctoring and custom exam solutions, it is now possible to host a variety of exams using the online mode. A few of the prominent online exam types include:
- Semester and entrance exams for educational ins
- Coding/programming assessments
- Aptitude tests and personality profiling
- Video interviews and viva
- Mock practice tests
- Image-based or media-based online exams
- Open-book tests
- Competitive exams and contests
The digital revolution in the education space: How technology is transforming the global exam landscape
The advent of technology has steadily digitized all services and offerings, taking them to the online platform, and education has been no exception. With the ubiquitous high-speed internet and laptops, the pervasiveness of technology has enabled a seamless transition to the online ecosystem.
Universities, schools and various educational institutions have progressed and adapted to Learning Management Systems (LMSs), where software applications track, report, administer and document materials that are shared with students. This teaching and evaluation system facilitates a balanced approach toward imparting knowledge and easy grading of the candidates.
Online exams aim to ensure that assessment givers can undertake the paradigm shift from offline to online processes. The online exam software industry is snowballing, and factors such as convenience, scalability, increased reach, and customization are shaping its adoption. Hence, established evaluation techniques are now nearing saturation and will soon become obsolete. In the following section, we discuss the extent of the spread of online exams in the education sector.
The need for computer-based tests
“Computer-based test” is an umbrella term covering any test given and taken using computers, with or without using the internet. Therefore, online exams are a subset of computer-based tests (CBTs). The benefits of CBTs include:
- Adaptive testing with varying difficulty levels
- High integrity
- Wide reach
- Auto-grading features
- Time and energy savings
CBTs are helpful for academic assessment and conducting certification programs.
Using Artificial Intelligence to improve the online test experience
AI’s (Artificial Intelligence) infusion in the education ecosystem has revolutionized higher education. Universities have wholeheartedly embraced the change as AI-based exam technology enables them to:
a. Advance their curriculum
b. Offer students greater flexibility in taking exams
c. Improve the examination experience for both evaluators and test-takers
AI-based exams, also known as AI-proctored tests, eliminate the need for deploying onsite invigilators and provide a cheating-free environment. The AI proctoring software monitors the live feed through the candidate’s webcam and flags or reports any suspicious movement during the exam. Furthermore, AI-based exams make it easy to monitor many candidates simultaneously.
AI-based exam software also equips institutions with advanced solutions like:
- Image/facial recognition
- Voice recognition
- Cheating-prevention measures
- Advanced proctoring
- Browser security and lockdown
- Session reviews
Adopting online exams
The education sector has steadily realized the need to shift to the online ecosystem. The success stories of renowned institutions such as the Indian School of Business and Howard University further underline the importance of online examinations.
We’re being forced to live with a system that we’ve had for more than a century. That’s not necessary. It’s expensive, and it’s subject to all sorts of variables, not the least human failure. That whole system is just out of step with technology, and I think it’ll be consigned to history soon.
Benefits of conducting online tests
Reduced logistical hassle
Online exams help overcome the challenge of setting up physical test centers, minimizing resource requirements – time, cost of setting up, and the need for human proctors – speeding up the examination process. Online exams accelerate the admission process in universities, where applications can be screened with minimal resources. The idea of conducting semester exams and various assessments online lends ease and seamlessness to the entire process.
Accessibility to remote locations
Online exams have broken geographical barriers and enabled wider reach and participation. Global assessment solutions train universities and education sectors, allowing them to efficiently conduct assessments. In addition, institutions and students can enjoy incredible accessibility and reach with only an internet connection and devices.
Online exams can cater to a broad audience and easily manage vast content. Considering this feature, educational institutions facing a scarcity of time would find it highly convenient to conduct examinations with the least bandwidth wastage. Merely a computer with an active connection and a webcam to take tests makes this possible.
Multiple question types
Online exams range from MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions), fill-in-the-blanks, checkboxes to short answers, long answers (that need to be evaluated by the teacher separately), coding simulators, case studies, etc. In addition, online examination platforms support a host of knowledge and application-based questions, enabling examiners to prepare a questionnaire with multiple question types.
Exhaustive skill and question banks
Advanced online examination test platforms have an exhaustive library of competencies and sub-competencies, carefully mapped to relevant questions. For ease of use, examiners can choose the relevant skills they wish to test via the exam to frame the questionnaire. This saves examiners’ time and effort.
Automated reports do away with human intervention and save notable working hours. A report is a comprehensive approach to a candidate’s performance, with a question-wise and section-wise summary of the attempt, time taken and the difficulty level. Detailed reports are also helpful for students seeking career guidance. With the reports, they better understand their competencies.
Why choose online exams over traditional pen-and-paper tests
|The era of pen-and-paper exams||The age of online exams|
|High logistical cost||Cost-effective virtual solutions|
|Geographical limitations||Wider reach and scalability|
|Significant turnaround time||Real-time analytical reports|
|Requirement of multiple invigilators to curb cheating||AI-based proctoring technology to prevent cheating|
How do online exams work?
Process of an online test
The online test process usually includes five steps.
Step 1: System setup
Examiners or admins set up the testing environment and upload questions to the online exam platform. LMS integration and result configuration also happen at this stage.
Step 2: Test link sharing
Examiners upload bulk candidate data to the platform, select time slots and share the test link with students via email.
Step 3: Candidate authentication
Test-takers use the link to login and attempt the test via three-step authentication. The tests are usually recorded and can be proctored for high-stakes examinations via AI-based or human proctors.
Step 4: Evaluation and report generation
Once the user submits the test, it is auto-evaluated for real-time report generation. The results can be customized and shared in PDF or HTML formats.
Step 5: Analytics
An in-depth analysis of the overall online examination test can be done in the form of group-level analysis and can be customized as needed.
Monitoring online exams
Online exams are monitored via proctoring technology and classified into three categories.
Live online proctoring
A live proctor invigilates test-taking candidates on an online platform for the test’s duration. A proctor can immediately disable the test if a candidate cheats on the exam.
Candidates’ audio-visuals and screen-sharing feeds are recorded throughout the test. Proctors review the recorded test, playback, fast-forward, and red flag suspicious activities using annotations.
An automated proctoring system monitors the recorded feeds using advanced audio-video analytics to detect suspicious activities.
Choosing an online examination software
What is online exam software?
An online exam software, sometimes also debatably known as an online examination platform, enables educational institutions to offer assessments using the virtual mode. Universities, colleges and schools assess students’ learning and knowledge, appearing for their tests using computers and the internet. The examination process remains like the offline mode, barring the fact that the entire exam-giving and taking process moves online rather than given at physical centers.
The first step to choosing the right online examination software involves outlining your specific requirements. That makes it easier to select the software that best suits you. There are several options to explore, but before choosing a vendor, you should consider the following aspects.
- The vendors’ market experience
- Their service fee for online exam services
- The features offered by their online test platform
- User-friendliness and contours of the software’s user interface
- The vendor’s clientele and standing in the market
Most valuable features of an online exam platform
It is ideal to choose an online exam platform that promises the following.
- The provision to create engaging online exams by adding images, text, video, complex equations, etc., to the questionnaire.
- Ease of use and high test credibility.
- Support for multiple question types: multiple-choice image questions, multiple-choice text questions, audio-video questions, fill-in-the-blanks, etc.
- Flexibility to create a comprehensive question bank with a variety of questions as part of online exams. Moreover, it should allow examiners to randomize problems to maintain the uniqueness and relevance of the test’s content.
- Room for end-users to use tags for their question banks, create new tags and assign the proper tags to each question for analysis.
- Possibility to set pass-fail rules for exams. For instance, the software should enable the administration to set the time limit and the number of attempts for each question. Also, candidates should be allowed to review their answers before submitting them.
- Custom styling and personal branding options (white label solutions) to create a lasting impression on test-takers.