Securing online tests

Measures to ensure the security and integrity

Created by Mustafa Ekim

Tests that are well-structured and consist of high-quality questions can assess a wide range of skills, knowledge, and characteristics of individuals, providing valuable insights about them. Developing a test requires significant time and effort, but if its security and integrity are not protected by preventing cheating, the results can be invalidated, leading to wasted resources and misleading conclusions. Therefore, it is crucial to combat cheating attempts and safeguard the test's integrity and security to ensure that the results are accurate and reliable.

Preventing cheating is a critical aspect of administering tests, and it falls under the test administrator's responsibility to take all available measures to minimize or eliminate it. Testinvite offers a broad range of features that can assist administrators in combating cheating in numerous ways. Given the multitude of ways that cheating can occur, it is crucial to understand the function of each feature and ensure their incorporation into your use case.

Protecting the access to the test

Various measures can be taken to secure access to an online test, such as generating unique invitation codes, using username and password pairs, or passcodes. These methods ensure that only authorized individuals can access the test. Date restrictions can be set at different stages of the assessment process, such as the period during which the test-taker can authenticate and the timeframe within which they are permitted to start the test.

Screen surveillance

Cheating often occurs using the same device that they use to take the test. That's why it's essential to monitor the test-taker's device by recording and observing their screen. With this feature enabled, the test-taker's screen is recorded, and their image can be transmitted to the test administrator or proctor in real-time for monitoring purposes. This feature helps to prevent cheating during the online exam by ensuring that the test-taker is not using unauthorized materials or communicating with others during the test.

Lockdown browser

A lock-down browser is designed to create a secure testing environment for online tests. It restricts a test-taker's access to other applications, websites, and functions on their device during the exam, preventing them from engaging in any activities that may compromise the integrity of the exam.

Webcam surveillance

Webcam surveillance is a feature that allows administrators to monitor test-takers via webcam during online exams. It is designed to prevent cheating and ensure the integrity of the exam by providing a visual record of the test-taker's behavior during the exam.

When this feature is enabled, the test-taker's webcam is activated, and their image can transmitted to the test administrator or proctor in real-time. The administrator can monitor the test-taker's behavior for any signs of cheating, such as looking off-screen, talking to someone else, or accessing unauthorized materials.

Webcam surveillance is often used in combination with other security features, such as screen recording and lockdown browsers, to create a comprehensive testing environment that minimizes the risk of cheating.

Live monitoring of test sessions

Active observation of the testing process, commonly known as live monitoring of test sessions, involves tracking the progress of test-takers as they move through various stages of the exam. This includes observing the authentication process, commencement of the test, their progress during the exam, and completion of the test.

The live monitoring panel provides real-time information to test administrators to ensure that all expected test-takers have commenced the test at the designated time. It also enables administrators to stay informed and take prompt action in the event of any unexpected issues that may arise during the exam. This helps to ensure the security and integrity of the exam, and minimize any disruptions or delays that could impact test-takers.

Live proctoring and surveillance of test-takers

Live proctoring involves the practice of actively monitoring and observing the webcam and screen of test-takers throughout the entire testing process.

In live proctoring, test-takers are usually divided into smaller groups and assigned to a proctor who is responsible for actively monitoring their webcam and screen throughout the exam. If any unexpected behaviors or actions are observed, the proctor can intervene or report the incident accordingly. This helps to maintain the security and integrity of the exam, and minimize the risk of cheating or other violations of exam rules.

Post proctoring of recorded materials

Post proctoring involves the examination of recorded exam materials, including screen and webcam recordings, after test sessions have been completed.

Post-proctoring allows proctors to review recorded surveillance material of test sessions that occurred at different times, which can improve their productivity by enabling them to use their time in a more efficient and convenient manner. This process helps to ensure that any suspicious behaviors or rule violations are identified and addressed appropriately, even after the exam has ended.

The post-proctoring panel enables the review of recorded materials in any order, as well as the ability to increase playback speed and jump between recorded materials freely. These features can save time for proctors and help them to more efficiently identify any irregularities or violations that may have occurred during the exam.

AI-powered algorithms for proctoring material analysis

AI-powered algorithms for proctoring material analysis use machine learning techniques and artificial intelligence to analyze recorded proctoring materials from online exams. These algorithms are specifically designed to identify potential cheating behaviors, such as test-takers looking away from the screen, leaving the webcam view, or detecting other individuals in the webcam view, and can flag suspicious activity for review by a human proctor. This technology can help improve the accuracy and efficiency of proctoring for online exams, and reduce the risk of cheating or other exam violations.

Live chat with test-takers

Live chat with test-takers is a feature that allows test administrators or proctors to communicate with test-takers in real-time during an online exam. This feature is useful for addressing any technical issues or questions that may arise during the exam, as well as for detecting potential cheating behaviors. Test administrators can use the live chat feature to provide test-takers with instructions or guidance on how to proceed with the exam, or to clarify any questions they may have.

Implementing time limits at multiple levels

Time limits are a critical component in preventing test-takers from accessing external resources or communicating with others during online tests. By providing a limited time frame to answer questions or complete tasks, and by fine-tuning the time limit based on the complexity of the task or question, test-takers are encouraged to focus solely on the exam and not risk wasting time accessing external resources. This ensures that the test-taker's knowledge and abilities are accurately reflected in the exam results, and it helps to maintain the security and integrity of the exam.

To optimize the effectiveness of time limits in online exams, it is recommended to implement them gradually throughout the test instead of enforcing a single time limit for the entire exam. A test can have several time limits set at different levels, including the entire test, every section of the test, and even every page of the test.

Randomizing questions

If a test-taker already knows the exam questions beforehand, the test results will not be valid. To ensure the integrity of the exam, it is crucial to ask test-takers questions that cannot be predicted or anticipated.

Randomizing questions refers to the process of creating pools of test questions and randomly selecting a set number of questions from the pool for each test-taker at the time of compiling the exam. This practice ensures that each test-taker receives a unique set of questions, minimizing the risk of cheating and ensuring the integrity of the exam.

Improper use of question randomization can result in unbalanced tests. To ensure that tests are balanced, randomization should occur for each test item by selecting from a list of questions that measure the same skill or knowledge with the same level of difficulty and response time.

Shuffling of the test sections, pages, questions and choices

Shuffling of the test sections, pages, questions and choices is a technique used in online exams to prevent cheating and ensure fairness. It involves randomizing the order in which test-takers are presented with different sections of the exam, pages within each section, and questions and answer choices within each page.

By shuffling these elements, test-takers are less likely to share answers or collaborate with others, as each test-taker will have a different order of questions and choices. This technique can also help to reduce the effectiveness of memorization-based cheating strategies, as test-takers cannot rely on memorizing the order of questions and answer choices to perform well on the exam.

Restricting test-taker navigation options within an online exam

Restricting test-taker navigation options within an online exam refers to the practice of limiting the ways in which test-takers can move around within an exam.

By restricting navigation options, test-takers are unable to return to previous questions or skip ahead to future questions, which can prevent cheating or unauthorized collaboration. It also helps to ensure that test-takers answer all questions in the order presented, minimizing the risk of them missing questions or leaving questions unanswered.

It is often used in combination with other security measures, such as time limits, randomization of questions, and screen and webcam monitoring, to create a comprehensive testing environment that maintains the security and integrity of the exam.

Preventing the use of browser extensions

Preventing the use of browser extensions such as Google Translate is an important measure to prevent cheating during online exams.

Preventing selection and copying text

By preventing the selection and copying of text, you can make it more difficult for test-takers to share test content or cheat by searching for answers online.

Incorporating barcodes and QR codes into the test screen

Adding barcodes or QR codes automatically to the test screen can aid in tracking the test session if the screen is recorded using external devices or recorders. This feature provides a unique identifier for each test session that can be used to verify the authenticity of the test.

Logging test-taker actions for auditing purposes

Logging test-taker actions for auditing purposes involves recording and storing information about the actions of test-takers during online exams.

The purpose of logging test-taker actions is to provide an audit trail that can be used to verify the validity and integrity of exam results. It can also help to identify any potential cheating or irregularities that may have occurred during the exam. In cases where cheating or other irregularities are suspected, the audit trail can be used to investigate the matter and take appropriate action.

Re-configuring and reinstating an online test

Online tests can be interrupted for various reasons beyond the control of the testing platform, such as device failure or test-taker health issues. To address these issues, test administrators should have the necessary tools to reconfigure the test and reinstate it for the test-taker.

To prevent misuse, specific sections or pages of the test can be locked, preventing test-takers from revisiting and changing their responses. Additionally, time limits for the entire test, individual sections, and pages can be adjusted based on the situation.

Overall, the ability to reconfigure and reinstate an online test is crucial in maintaining the security and integrity of the exam, while also ensuring fairness to test-takers who experience unforeseen interruptions.

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