How online exams can be fair and authentic way of testing

Laveta Brigham

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, parents are quite apprehensive of letting their children continue the process of admissions. However, the Union Education Ministry has recently opened the gates for students with the entrance exams of The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (Undergraduate) (NEET-UG) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main examinations. A […]

a person using a laptop

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, parents are quite apprehensive of letting their children continue the process of admissions. However, the Union Education Ministry has recently opened the gates for students with the entrance exams of The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (Undergraduate) (NEET-UG) and Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main examinations.

A growing chorus regarding the delay in conducting the exams that could lead to a ‘zero academic year’ as echoed by Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, is gravely burdening the education sector. Along with the fear of contracting Covid-19, students face various facilitation concerns such as transportation, finding suitable accommodations, and anxiety about traveling.

An e-assessment platform can provide the solution in such a scenario while safeguarding the health of the students during these unprecedented times. Globally, an increasing trend in the usage of online assessments is being observed as it is a significant technological boost and more importantly the need of the hour.

How are exams being conducted in the United States?

In the United States, testing organisations have introduced home-based online versions of exams, such as the Graduate Records Examination (GRE), the Advanced Placement (AP) exams, and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), there were earlier administered at testing centres.

In today’s time, educational institutions need to understand the current need to embrace technological innovation in education and learning in order to meet the challenges of a modernised and expanded education system. Online assessment platforms take into account the security issues and concerns of the education sector as they continue to become a novel testing space.

What are the challenges before examination bodies if they conduct exams online?

E-assessments are designed with a robust architecture that provides secure information authentication, troubleshoot transaction and storage issues from both educational and technical point of view, addressing all possible security potholes beforehand.

How do online exams work?

Maintaining transparency and fairness in online exams

Authentication is at the core of an e-assessment environment that includes allowing a student to secure access to his/her personal learning space while maintaining the confidentiality and ensuring rightful identification.

Online portals ensure that a large question bank is compiled and randomisation of the questions as well as optional prevent the hazard of test visibility and cheating. Additionally, it saves time and effort to prevent exam leakages, as the logistics issues are automatically resolved due to the secure online nature of assessment.

The integrity of the e-assessment is further safeguarded by lockdown application, which prevents electronic corruption and a student obtaining an unfair advantage. This feature locks the student in an e-assessment environment and blocks access to any other website during the exam and prevents access to multiple browser tabs.

Can online test detect cheating?

Remote Proctoring sets the seal on malpractice during the exam. Traditionally, this role is fulfilled by a trusted invigilator at a test centre. However, webcams and audio streams to track the test-takers’ activity available on the remote proctor’s screen lends credibility to online assessments. Red flags are raised if the candidates indulge in any forbidden activity or plagiarism.

One of the main concerns regarding the NEET/JEE exams seems to be security and authenticity, which can be adequately addressed through secure online testing.

How to conduct online exams smoothly?

In the traditional set-up, faculties often try to accommodate test-takers at an examination centre, planning the logistics, followed by a tedious process of organizing the exams that also involve exam room availability. E-assessments significantly reduce the logistics hassles, evaluation time and reach out to candidates located far and wide with ease alongside managing attendance automatically and reducing the examination centre distractions. Furthermore, online portals include a range of built-in accessibility functions such as speech-to-text to enhance user-experience by students with special needs.

The robustness of the e-assessment platforms to allow conducting thousands of exams concurrently without impacting the candidate experience remains to be a paramount feature. Globally, online portals have a proven track record of successfully conducting various large scale assessments simultaneously across vast geographical bounds. According to the Education Ministry, more than 19 lakh candidates have downloaded e-admit-cards for NEET and JEE across India, making the online platform a suitable option for testing.

How does e-assessments work?

E-assessments cater to a wide spectrum of examinations, from multiple-choice entrance tests to semester exams in a seamless manner. As the NEET and JEE exams consist of multiple-choice questions as well as open-ended questions, online testing continues to be a potential choice for the same. Additionally, E-assessments provide a detailed report that includes an in-depth analysis of the candidates’ performance to enhance transparency.

The scoring is done automatically, enabling a convenient option for future re-evaluation. Automatic scoring will prove to be time and cost-effective for more than 19 lakh NEET & JEE aspirants. Online assessments allow the education sector as a whole an opportunity to go paperless and make for a sustainable future.

Online testing is becoming norm in Covid-19 era

Online testing is gaining traction and acceptance across the globe as it uses reliable and scalable technology to validate examinations and learning in equal measure. The advantages of e-assessment make it a prospective and successful option for administering large scale examinations like NEET & JEE. The online portal shields students from becoming corrupt foster their well-being by reducing the fear of contracting a pandemic virus, as well as providing a time-and-money efficient assessment platform, in turn, reducing the stress for the Union Education Ministry.

This article is written by Karan Gupta, Co-Founder at AssessPrep.

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