Whether you are a corporation running certification programmes or assessing training effectiveness, an awarding body looking to move away from paper or expand into a new market, a training company setting up a scalable end-of-course assessment or a college modernising your approach to exams, there are numerous benefits that arise from making the transition to online assessment.
The benefits of online assessment are welcomed by both the exam candidates themselves, and for the organisation providing the assessment. The types of benefits gained will depend on the assessment software used, but one overriding positive outcome is that organisations greatly reduce the administrative burden of organising and running exams. This is not an exhaustive list, but here are 12 key benefits of online assessment to consider:
1. Exam Candidates are used to Digital.
- Exam candidates can work on a computer in a way they are familiar with, rather than using pen and paper. Candidates are at a disadvantage if they do not have access to computer editing tools when writing e.g. cut and pasting text, or using a spreadsheet for accounts. It is hard to switch to pen and paper when you are used to working digitally, and it can be very tiring over long periods.
2. Reduced Administrative Burden.
- Organisations greatly reduce the administrative burden of organising and running exams when it moves online. Printing and circulating exams on paper and organising shipments of completed scripts to markers is a time-consuming and costly process.
3. Quicker to Mark and Issue Results.
- It is much quicker to mark online and candidates welcome receiving results quickly. With auto-scorable questions, results are available immediately if wished.
4. Collaborative Question Authoring.
- Working online makes it easier for the examining body to manage all the tasks involved in creating exams. For example, authoring questions can be done collaboratively, with clear workflows for review and approval of questions before they are added to the question bank.
5. Automated Test Assembly Tools.
- Once there is an approved bank of questions, exam papers can be created easily by selecting questions or by using automated tools e.g. LOFT, or linear-on-the-fly testing, to create automatic and randomised papers. You can read more about linear-on-the-fly testing here.
6. On-Screen Marking Tools.
- Marking and moderating exam results is streamlined, secure and standardised when it is managed online. Read more about on-screen marking here.
7. It’s More Environmentally Friendly.
- It’s more environmentally friendly – with less paper, printing and transport used overall.
8. Scalable with Worldwide Reach
- With online assessment, examining bodies can offer exams to candidates located over greater geographical areas, as they are not restricted to offering exams in physical test centres.
9. Increased Security.
- Another benefit of online assessment is greater security, as all exam papers, candidate details, marks and results are digitally stored. In addition, only the people who should be able access exam information can be granted the appropriate system access. It is much harder to control access, storage and results management with paper-based exams.
10. Flexibility to Take Exams Anywhere
- Remote invigilation, or online proctoring, gives candidates the ability to sit a secure and invigilated exam from the comfort of their home, which is less stressful, and saves time and money going to a test centre. Read more about the benefits of online proctoring here.
11. Assessment Reporting.
- Online assessment facilitates quick and clear reports on candidate results and progress. This makes it easier to give useful feedback to candidates on how they are doing, areas where they are strong and what areas of learning require attention.
12. Cost Effectiveness.
- Online assessment is more cost effective, due the vast reduction in administrative time managing the whole exam creation, delivery and marking processes. You can read more about other cost-efficiencies below.
Benefits of Online Assessment with TestReach
There are significant cost reductions when compared with running face-to-face exams. In-person exams can be very expensive as there are substantial fees associated with factors such as hiring a test hall, supplying or hiring invigilators, securely couriering exam papers and answer sheets, printing exam papers, scanning and correcting solutions, securely storing and disposing of exam papers and scripts, staff overheads to manage the process and logistics, and dealing with re-sits. TestReach removes all of these costs and introduces a standard fee per candidate, irrespective of their location. With TestReach there are no up-front configuration or site-license charges as our license fees are purely based on usage. TestReach is extremely cost effective even for small numbers of users.
Flexibility for Candidates
For the vast majority of exam candidates, time is precious. Having to spend time and money travelling to a test centre for a particular exam is not ideal, particularly if there are large distances involved. TestReach provides exam candidates full flexibility to take the exam in a location of their own choice and there is the option to offer an exam window, where candidates also have the flexibility to select a suitable date and time. This capability can be a very significant competitive advantage, particularly for candidates in full-time employment.
Easy for Candidates to Use
Within TestReach, there is a very high priority placed on design and the system is both intuitive and easy to use, even for less tech-savvy candidates. The candidate experience from the initial enrolment email through to submitting their test on exam day is very straightforward, with multiple resources made available to fully explain the process. Within the system, options are easily identified and accessed, with all candidates having access to a “test tutorial” in advance, which can be taken multiple times and allows the candidates to become familiar with the system. Our whole focus is to ensure that on exam day exam-takers need only be concerned with their exam and not how to use a new system.
Candidates also have the benefit of sitting their exam in a way that is in line with standard practices, where written answers can be easily edited and numerical analysis is carried out via a spreadsheet as opposed to on paper. Plus there is the added advantage of not having to write for long periods of time, which can cause a lot of problems for certain categories of candidates.
Maintaining the Integrity of the Exam
When running exams across multiple geographies it can be very difficult to ensure that the same high-levels of exam integrity apply in each region, particularly when relying on local partners or external venues. TestReach offers a level playing field to all candidates and ensures that the integrity of the exam is preserved irrespective of location. There is also full control over each exam paper, so the examining body decides exactly when and who sees the paper, plus all access is fully audit-trailed.
Create Better Assessments
TestReach offers the potential for a very rich user experience. With question types ranging from record your voice through to plotting graphs, the whole testing experience is much more interactive and interesting. This can have a very significant impact on the effectiveness of your tests, where you can use TestReach’s 50+ question-types to assess the candidate’s ability to apply their knowledge, as opposed to just testing their knowledge levels at a particular point in time. It can also improve how your brand is perceived by your candidates and the quality of service that you offer. Even if most of your testing is currently based on text only or MCQ-type questions, you have the option to easily expand this to include more comprehensive question types into the future.
There is also the option to turn on confidence-ratings and associate questions with one or more learning outcomes. Both of these features can allow you to better asses the quality of your training and education service. If most candidates answer questions on a particular learning outcome correctly but were not confident in their answer, they were effectively guessing, which raises questions about how the course material was presented.
Significantly Reduced Administration Overhead
There is enormous administration overhead associated with sourcing and managing test centres, particularly across multiple countries. There is then the additional effort associated with actually scheduling exams and managing candidate attendance, cancellations and re-schedules, which becomes all the more complex when test centres are in different time zones. TestReach completely removes this overhead and allows all exams to be scheduled centrally with fully automated candidate notifications and procedures.
There is also the capability to set up affiliates or training centre partners, who can manage the enrolment process for their own specific candidate base, without having access to any of your actual exam papers. This decentralises the administration process and can be very effective if you work with third parties who enrol candidates into your tests.
A Personalised Service
At TestReach we pride ourselves on the levels of customer service we provide. We work with our customers as partners and provide lots of advice, guidance and best practice based on our extensive experience. Moving exams online, and/or rolling out remote invigilation is a big step, which requires planning and the right approach. Our experienced consultants are on hand to help you every step of the way, in line with the specific needs that you have and the approach that you want to take.
A Total Assessment Solution
TestReach covers all your needs by combining the ability to create online tests with the option of online supervision. This offers huge flexibility for organisations as you can run exams or tests in any combination of the following:
Online with Remote Invigilation – this option effectively recreates the exam hall experience over the Web. The exam is authored and rolled out on TestReach, and at exam time our trained supervisors remotely monitor candidates taking the test via video, audio and remote screen share. It is extremely secure and everything is recorded and can be reviewed at a later time if required.
Online at a Test Centre – the test is rolled out in an online format where candidates come to a test centre to be supervised by your own in-person invigilator. Candidates can either bring their own laptop, or you may provide computers at the venue. Computers can be locked-down for the duration of the test, so that candidates cannot access any other programs or files on the device.
Paper-Based – TestReach offers a scan and data entry service for paper-based answer sheets, for the interim period where organisations are transitioning to online testing and may want to offer candidates a choice between online and paper-based exams. This allows organisations to take a phased approach to the introduction to e-assessment.
Online Without Supervision – this option allows tests to be rolled out in an online format but they are not supervised. This could be for practice exams, ongoing course assessment, simple quizzes or feedback surveys, for example.
Offline Assessment Portal™ – The TestReach offline solution enables exams to be run at test centres without the need for internet connectivity. Our Offline Assessment Portal™ gives test centres the ability to securely download the TestReach environment, relevant exams and candidate information in advance of an exam. Candidates can sit the exam on any computer on the same network as the Offline Assessment Portal™ application and neither the candidate machine nor the Offline Assessment Portal™ requires internet access during the exam session. On completion of the exam, the test centre securely uploads candidate responses to TestReach. Exam and candidate data is encrypted so it is extremely secure and reliably maintains the integrity of the exam.
Assignments – TestReach provides a number of options and workflows for on-going assignments that includes the facility for candidates to upload submissions, marking and routing. With our comprehensive question types that include spreadsheet, essay and drawing tools, it is also possible to give students the flexibility to actually create their assignment within TestReach.
All of the above options are offered in one easy-to-use solution where you can just turn options on and off for each exam, so you can transition to online assessment at your own pace, taking a phased approach whereby different cohorts of candidates can take the same exam in a variety of ways to suit your specific needs. There is complete flexibility to meet both your current and future assessment requirements.
Combined Online Assessment and Remote Invigilation
There are some very significant advantages in having a total solution which has the flexibility to deliver tests in a variety of modes. Firstly, there are no integration points. While creating an integration between systems can appear straightforward, when exceptional or unusual circumstances arise that have not been anticipated, these can give rise to problems that may even compromise the integrity of the examination. Secondly, you are only dealing with one supplier, so you have one contact point and one supplier with responsibility for all aspects of your solution. Thirdly, for remotely invigilated exams, our supervisors can answer questions about any part of the solution. Exam candidates are under a lot of pressure at exam time and often they have multiple questions, e.g. are my answers being saved?, is the note pad submitted as part of the exam? etc. Our supervisors are trained to invigilate exams, but our team is also very knowledgeable about our full solution, so we can answer any questions that arise. This leads to a far better candidate experience and removes any frustrations that may arise if supervisors have no knowledge of the underlying assessment application. Lastly, all information relating to your exam is available in one, easy-to-use dashboard. If, during the invigilation process, an infringement has been raised, you can immediately see everything to do with that exam in one place. The video recording of the incident, the notes from the invigilator, the candidate’s score (if questions were auto-scored), what question the candidate was on when the incident arose, the answer given to that question, etc. It allows for a holistic view of the test to be taken, without having to aggregate data from two separate systems. Learn more about the benefits of remote invigilation.
To read more about the benefits of online assessment in practice take a look at some TestReach eassessment case studies here to see how other organisations have made the transition to using TestReach for examinations and what the benefits were.