Right from our initial days at school, there is one most dreaded word- Examinations!!! Right from the student who just enters school to the person doing post-graduation everyone dreads it.
It creates an atmosphere of pressure and tension. But are exams necessary? Yes, exams are absolutely necessary since they act as a checkpoint on what we have learned. Exams help in checking of fundamentals, concepts to advanced applications.
It creates an environment of competitiveness and increases the spirit and enthusiasm.
To effectively deliver an examination, one needs to cater to 3 major components efficiently. They are:
1. Creation of exams: An exam will have to be created and the contents have to be kept secured until the examination starts.
2. Supervision of examination: Students have to be efficiently identified, and screened to ensure that they do not compromise the standards of the exams.
3. Marking of the exams: Marking is the ultimate stage in any examination as it determines the success or failure of the candidate. Hence, it is the stage that dictates the next level of success and achievement in life.
Have you noticed the change in the way examinations take place these days? Most of them have started to test concepts rather than being theoretical? And the major shift from offline exams to online examination?
Right from school to universities, everyone is a part of this shift? Entrance examinations for engineering, medical, management almost all of them have gone online. Life changing exams like CAT, GRE, GMAT are all navailable in the online mode.
This must have got you wondering about the reason for this major shift. Now let’s see some advantages of conducting them online:
The security and confidentiality of an exam are critical for the exam to retain its value. One needs to keep the data of the exams secure. Any leakage will definitely compromise the standard of the exam and may result in cancellation or retake of the test.
All these characteristics are well addressed using an online system. Since the question data is kept securely in a database and only authorized personnel have access to it. There are other features online examinations attain which make them more secure.
This includes the following:
- Randomization of the order of questions to avoid cheating among candidates
- Addition of new questions to the database is very easy to manage
The online examination has brought a whole new genre of exams into existence: Adaptive exams.
Computer-adaptive tests help in adjustimg their level of difficulty—based on the answers provided—to match the knowledge and capability of a test taker. If a student gives an incorrect answer, the computer follows with an easier question; if the student answers correctly, the next question will be of more difficulty level.
Advantages of adaptive testing
- The precise and efficient assessment takes lesser time, thus giving more time to learning and instructions by teachers and students. Since the questions are tailored, time is not wasted on either too difficult or too easy questions.
- Precise and quickly available information on student learning needs, which teachers can use to adapt instruction and improve teaching techniques.
- More security as there is less scope to cheat.
Accessibility and Flexibility
One can give exams irrespective of the location. All a student needs is a computer and a working internet connection. It avoids travel efforts and thus leads to a better examination experience.
As it gives ease and flexibility to students, online examinations help the examiners as well. They don’t need to correct the answers manually but the system automatically checks the answers and mark them. Thus it removes the possibility of biased results
When an exam goes online, one reduces the cost of printing, copying and distributing the paper. Thus it serves a dual purpose: environment-friendly and cost-effective.
Online exams only involve the one-time cost of getting the system in place as per the specific needs. Then it uses it to take examinations across borders.
The lengthy processes involved in creating question papers, registering candidates for exams, answer sheet evaluation and declaration of results are completely done away with in the online exam system. Also, each student is timed accurately and all results are generated instantly.
As the examination data is available online, a lot of analytics improve the nature of examinations and questions. We can get information about the trend and what factors helped in bringing about the trend.
Thus we can optimize the exam pattern based on these statistics to get the best out of the students
Challenges in the online examination
Internet accessibility: The Internet is a knowledge center and has access to it may lead to numerous ways of cheating. To overcome this, many exams combine the offline and online mode of exams.
They have centers from which students have to give the online examination. There are also ways in progress to ensure that opening any other application on the computer will lead to an end of exams. But security is a major factor and cannot be risked at any cost.
Subjective tests: A lot many exams test the abilities of students via subjective answers rather than multiple choice questions. The online system finds it difficult to manage subjective testing, since it requires manual intervention.
But these challenges are not going to make the world stop from taking examinations online. So tighten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride of giving tests through online systems.
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