1. What is offline exam delivery or offline
Offline exam delivery, or offline assessment, is the
method by which organisations can run computer-based
examinations in remote areas where there is not a
reliable internet connection available, instead of
relying on a paper-based process which is inflexible
and hard to administer. True offline exams do not even
require an internet connection on exam day, to launch
or submit the exam.
2. Why run examinations offline?
There is increasing interest in the use of
e-assessment because of the range of benefits it
provides to candidates to be able to sit their exams
on a computer and reduce time-to-results, and also the
positive difference it can make to organisations
running exams worldwide with regard to security,
cost-efficiencies and a reduced administrative burden.
However, in many areas of the world internet
connectivity is not reliable enough to facilitate the
running of exams, and to ensure that users do not get
disconnected or experience a degradation of system
speed during their exam. Running assessments on a
computer but without the need to be connected to the
internet (offline), using a secure delivery system,
resolves this difficulty.
3. What sort of technologies exist to run exams
With offline assessment, typically an encrypted exam
package is downloaded to a test centre by someone with
sufficient security access in advance of the exam. At
exam time this is deployed over a local network so
that candidates can connect to a local server and have
a similar experience to the experience they would have
if they were taking their exam online. After the test
completes, answer data is then securely uploaded for
marking, moderation and results processing.
4. Who uses offline exam delivery?
Offline exam delivery is of interest to any
organisation who has test centres in remote areas
where the internet connection is too unreliable to run
exams over the web. It is ideal for examining bodies
who want to avail of auto-scoring or on-screen manual
marking and need to have all their examination data
from both online and offline exams in one secure
5. What are the benefits of offline assessment?
Fairness: It gives
all candidates the same exam experience irrespective
of whether a candidate is at a location with good
broadband and is able to take their exam online, or
is at a location with poor internet connectivity so
they take their exam offline. Without the capability
to deliver computer-based exams offline, then
typically those without internet connection have to
use pen & paper – this is neither fair nor
Candidate benefits: Even though there is no
internet connection, people can sit their exams on a
computer using the same tools they use in their work
environment, so being able to type rather than write
with pen, the option to cut/paste text, use
All data in one system: For the examining
body, using different exam delivery methods but
keeping it all computer-based, means that all data
is retained in the same system and is completely
secure. So no matter where the candidate is based,
their details, exam paper and results are all stored
securely in one application, and all results for all
candidates are available on the same dashboard.
Increased security: Some organisations run
paper-based examinations in areas without internet
connectivity, which are then scanned and marked in
the same system as computer-based tests that were
run in other locations. With this approach, there is
always a risk of paper exams being lost or question
content compromised. Moving to offline
computer-based delivery removes this security risk.
Randomised papers: If you wish to generate
random exam papers for candidates, where questions
are selected from question banks according to
different rules such as topic, difficulty rating
etc., this can easily be achieved using offline
delivery. This helps maintain security and reduces
the risk of collusion between candidates at test
centres (as everyone taking the exam has a unique
Speed of marking and results: Transporting
and scanning paper-based answer sheets typically
takes quite a bit of time. With an offline solution,
once the exam is finished, it is a straightforward
process to securely upload an electronic package of
exam data, which is then immediately available to
markers or for results processing, so the turnaround
time from exam to results being issued to candidates
is greatly reduced.
6. What are the factors to consider when looking into
offline assessment solutions?
It is very important to
ensure that the transfer of data from an online
solution to the offline delivery location is done in
a completely secure way, for example, the data
should be fully encrypted when it is downloaded and
uploaded from a local server.
It’s important that the
candidate experience and interface is exactly the
same as the one delivered via the online version, so
that all candidates are treated in the same way and
none are at a disadvantage.
There should be a local
network in place at the test centre, which can deal
with the volume of candidates who will present to
take their exam. For larger cohorts, this will
typically involve local IT resources to configure
adequate networking options.
The overall process for
local administrators should be simple to follow.
Often remote test centres may be in different time
zones or English may not be their first language, so
it is really important that the steps they have to
take are straightforward and also that they are
properly enabled to carry out the necessary tasks.
If you’d like to read more about the TestReach product
solution, including our Offline Assessment Portal™
product features page here.
You can read more about the general
benefits of e-assessment here.