What Online Exam Proctoring Solution is Right for High Stakes Exams?

Solution de surveillance des examens

So many remote proctoring solutions and so little time.  

How do you and your faculty choose the right solution for the varied testing circumstances you face?

After all, a mid-term test for first-year students doesn’t have the same stakes as a final licensing exam for a profession. 

Your faculty prefers easy-to-use solutions that offer peace of mind about test integrity. Your students want convenience and have concerns about privacy. You want to satisfy these needs while also respecting your budget. 

This post will help you navigate the pros and cons of the top four remote proctoring solutions, so you can comfortably choose the best solution for your test situations. 

1. The browser lockdown

As the simplest form of remote proctoring, browser lockdown is appropriate for low-stakes tests. 

During a browser lockdown, an app that the student downloads controls the student’s browser according to the requirements you set.

Different vendors offer varying levels of flexibility regarding which features you can control. For example, the proctoring app can oblige the student to open the exam screen in full-screen mode so test-takers can’t look to other windows for help. 

The app can also potentially disable functions such as the following:

  • New tabs, to eliminate web searches
  • Printing, to block the distribution of printed exam questions
  • Re-entry into the exam, so that the test must be taken in one uninterrupted sitting. 

After the exam session, your representative reviews the proctoring data for anomalies. While this form of auto-proctoring can be effective for low-stakes testing, the review of proctoring data can be time-intensive given a high volume of test sessions. Additionally, the identity of the test-taker is not validated.


2. Automated proctoring

In automated proctoring, the software runs, observes, and records the whole test-taking session, based on the exam administrator’s settings. Artificial intelligence (AI) flags misbehavior. 

In top-tier solutions, vendors offer a wide array of options for what you want to observe, lockdown, and record. For example, during the pre-test protocol, you can choose to verify the person’s ID card and face, prevent the use of other monitors, and record all video, audio, and web activity. The choices are up to you. 

Once the exam is completed, your representative reviews the recordings and the behaviors flagged by the software. 

Scalability is the big advantage of this solution. Your testing can include an almost unlimited number of participants. 

On the downside, if you don’t choose the human-review option, the proctoring data need to be reviewed by your representatives. AI is not perfect and can lead to false alerts and issues with facial recognition. 


3. Live proctoring

Sometimes the certifications are so high-stakes, you need to have the peace of mind that comes with real-time human monitoring, supported by monitoring software.   

With this solution, a certified proctor monitors online the entire test-taking session as it’s happening. The proctor can confirm the ID of the test taker before the exam begins, and intercede should they spot suspicious behavior or need to respond to a technical issue. 

Meanwhile, the proctoring software flags all suspicious behavior and alerts the proctor if an inappropriate pattern appears. 

It’s important to note that since no online proctoring solution is perfect, some false positives may arise. This prospect can make a student anxious. 

For a detailed discussion of these concerns and misconceptions about remote proctoring, see our post,4 Big Misconceptions about Remote Online Exam Proctoring Dismantled”.

After the test, vendors offer the full time-stamped recordings, final reports with a variety of metrics, and the comments of the human proctor on all software-flagged behavior. 

This human review saves your staff the time they might have spent reviewing many hours of video and leaves only the most clear-cut situations for your staff to address. 

While the features of these final reports vary considerably, you could reasonably expect items such as the following: 

  • Dashboards that detail overall activity in an easy-to-read presentation
  • The timing of exam starts, finishes, and time spent on each test
  • Technical problems encountered
  • The number of proctor interventions
  • Analytics about the session.

Not surprisingly, a live proctoring solution requires the biggest investment and does not scale easily. Furthermore, it requires scheduling the exam with a proctor. 

Variations on live proctoring
Some vendors offer the partial presence of a remote live proctor. For instance, the trained proctor oversees the validation of test-taker identity, monitors the test-taker’s physical environment for inappropriate tools, and then allows the proctoring software to take over once the test session begins. 


4. Automated proctoring with human review

Using this solution, you benefit from two layers of integrity control:  software monitoring and human review of the exam session recordings to flag unauthorized behavior.

Together, these two systems save your team time in the review of exam sessions while offering you the clear rulings and information you need to decide the next steps. As a result, this solution offers you a secure exam session with cost-efficient scalability and anytime convenience for test-takers.

Here’s how the solution works. The software supports the entire exam session based on the parameters you’ve defined.

So, for example, you can customize the settings to do the following: lockdown the browser, block other software and list resources allowed. Additionally, the software will automatically block keyboard shortcuts, cut access to a secondary monitors, and record activity on the desktop, camera, and audio systems. 

Before the exam session begins, the system first authenticates the test-taker’s identity. Then it monitors their physical and digital environment prior to and during the test. At exambcompletion, a trained proctor reviews the exam session recording to ensure that the test-taker’s performance is assessed on the criteria set for the exam.

Your representative gets access to a report and the full exam recordings, along with the certified proctor’s comments on the flagged behavior and an integrity score. 


Technical consideration to keep in mind

Seamless integration. While you’re discussing auto-proctoring solutions with potential vendors, ensure that their solution will integrate seamlessly with your LMS or can be used with an exam created on another system. To facilitate your usage of the solution, you want to be able to view reports within the LMS and automate as many processes as possible. 

Easy exam oversight. Exam administrators don’t want to spend hours in training to learn new software. During your demo, ensure that the auto-proctoring control panel offers:

  • An easy-to-understand interface
  • High visibility into the proctoring process, i.e., what sessions are active, completed, canceled, which cases need to be escalated, etc.
  • Features that facilitate review of the test-taking session, flags raised, the multiple recordings, and the notes made by the human proctor 
  • Multilingual interfaces for both the test-takers and administrators. 

High security and reliability. A reliable solution that’s ready when you are is a must-have. When you sign your Service Level Agreement (SLA), ensure that it stipulates 99.9% uptime and that your data is backed up and stored on a secure server. 

Clearly, remote proctoring is going to be an integral part of how you run your institution. To secure your peace of mind and the reputation of your school, consider a solution that’s convenient for all parties, cost-effective, and scalable ⎯ automated proctoring with human review. 


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