How to Select the Right Online Examination Software ?
 Apr 23, 2019

How to Select the Right Online Examination Software ?

Remember the long hours you would invest selecting/writing questions for term examinations or recruitment tests, checking for repetition, and then starting the long process of hiring a proctor/invigilator, deciding on a test site, and finally collecting and manually correcting the test copies? Ufff It sounds like a great deal of work.
 
You'll get the feeling right if you're a teacher, trainer, coach or recruiter. In this long and tiring process, a lot of physical logistics, time and money are invested, rather wasted. Come technology, and just like that, your problem is solved! This blog is for you! Yes, you, who want to change this situation and simplify the process of the examination.
 
The traditional examination approach is slowly replaced by online examinations. Online Examinations or e-examinations are web-based examinations that are conducted through the internet. There are several online examination systems/software that are especially useful for educational organizations or institutions (primary and secondary schools, universities and colleges, vocational institutes and training academies), recruitment (corporate, small and medium-sized enterprises), employee training, employee engagement, etc.

But the question is which online examination platform should be selected? And what characteristics should one look for? It's hard to pick the best because it mostly depends on the organization's budget, business needs, background and learning, and training needs approach.

For the benefit of users, however, let us look at a set of features that can be decisive in choosing the right software for online examination:

1. Better acquainted and easy to access
  • I am entirely confident that accessibility is a major concern for training institutes and recruitment agencies conducting mock tests/employment tests in their different test centers spread across different locations, respectively. For them, both the assessor and the assessee should have easy access to online exam software. Using a computer and an internet connection, a user should be able to register and login from anywhere.
  • It is essential that an online examination software replicates and creates real-life examination experience for those of us who still like to retain the traditional look and feel of an examination.
     
  • All should be web-based and cloud-based with no download/install software requirement.
 
2. Allows you to easily create and take test
  • Teachers or professors who are relatively new to the online examination software concept need clear instructions for creating and testing. To this effect, the website of the software should contain demos / FAQs defining each element of the test creation process. The test created using the software must be listed on it with test variables such as the number of questions, sections, total marks, passing marks, time limit, etc.

  • With different examination patterns and user criteria in mind, the system should have MCQs, objective questions, type of essay questions, skill-based questions, simulation questions as well as personality tests, etc. that can easily be integrated into a single evaluation.

  • Question banks should be made available in the online examination system for recruiters looking to save time and logistics. Excel file upload and other such features must be provided in cases where assessors want to use their own questions.

  • Participants should also be able to easily take the test using a link/login and automatically expire as soon as the test is complete. The software should save and manage each participant's credentials that can be edited or updated if necessary.

3. Scalable and Guarantees Uptime
  • Scalability is a major requirement for recruiters engaged in hiring and coaching campus institutes engaged in student test preparation activities. Online examination software should be able to simultaneously support multiple users across different locations. A good online examination software should not use much of your bandwidth and would only require a computer with an active broadband connection and sometimes a webcam for testing.

  • The system must have a robust server structure that can support high response time and scalability. It should be able to scale up as necessary and should have a redundant server infrastructure in place to counter holdups such as power failure or any other malfunction. There should be other than that auto-saving feature so that it is saved as soon as a participant responds to a question.

4. No need for Invigilating
  • All are looking for a perfect score. Test takers sometimes try to cheat on their way to success. Tech-savvy participants also developed several tactics to cheat during an online examination, such as using Google docs to get other types of responses simultaneously, opening Google in a new browser or tab, etc. Testing with high consequences such as University Common Entry Tests, Employment Tests, Certification Tests, etc. cannot allow even the minutest attempts to cheat.

  • To counter cheating effectively, a good online examination system will have anti-cheating features in place. For example, if a test link (often locked IP) is sent to a candidate by email, it will have a PIN consisting of random letters and alphabets that the candidate must input to activate the test. This validates the test and ensures that it is accessed only by an authorized participant.

  • Auto-proctoring is a more robust approach. Where an exam can be carried out using a webcam, with options such as navigating away from the test window or blocking controls such as "copy-paste," "print-screen," etc. This approach eliminates a manual proctor's requirement and the requirement to hire and pay a test invigilator.

5. Online Reporting and Analysis
  • A variety of reporting and analysis options should be provided for trainers and teachers who need to manually correct copies. The scores should be calculated automatically as soon as the test is over; at the same time, participants and evaluators can see the scores.
     
  • The report generated should identify the key performance area by providing detailed question-level feedback and recommended approaches to incorrect responses. Both trainers and teachers can design their learning/training module based on the report data.

6. Easy Integration and Configured with Your Applications
  • Many organizations, educational institutes, training centers, and coaching centers already use a learning management system to teach a course or to prepare students/employees for high and low stake testing. The one that can be integrated seamlessly with their Information Management System and Learning Management System (LMS) should be a good online exam system.
     
  • The online test system should also enable custom branding / white labeling, allowing you to configure your landing page with your company logo.

7. Operational, technical and customer support should be provided
  • Teachers and recruiters won't have the software-related technical know-how to handle. New updates are jargons for them, "bug-fixing," operational and technical support. At each stage of the examination creation and completion, they may require proper application/software support. In order to use more advanced features such as skill-based simulation tests, high-stakes tests may require proper support to perform the test. Operational support should be just a phone call or live chat away in those scenarios.
     
  • In order to keep the software up to date and compatible, a good online examination software should be able to provide customer support and have a technical back end working actively.

Let's just not forget the constraints on the budget; any organization's first response is to collect free resources for all their business needs. In favor of such organizations, a freemium concept works. A good online exam software will have a free trial version that allows you to use the software free of charge and you can pay for it when you decide to use advanced features. This allows you to select the features you need. Most importantly, when a participant takes the test, you will only have to pay (pay per test taken). Once you become the premium user, you can take advantage of any new improvements that are introduced along with operational and technical support.
 
We hope this blog post will help you make better business decisions regarding the selection of the right software for online examination. If you think we missed any feature or want to add a few more, comment and let us know!