The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) is the national membership organisation for amateur radio enthusiasts in the UK. It administers
the three levels of Foundation, Intermediate and Full examinations approved by the communications regulator, Ofcom, for the issue of the appropriate operating licence to successful candidates. The RSGB runs many thousands of exams across the UK every year, through a network of 800 test venues and radio clubs. Delivering these exams on paper was cumbersome: papers needed to be printed and couriered on demand, and results had to be returned from clubs to the HQ to be checked and manually verified. In addition, the existing paper-generating system was not user-friendly for authoring questions. The RSGB needed to modernise the process in a way that local clubs and candidates would welcome, offering a user-friendly online assessment solution that would also simplify and speed up the marking process, enable easier authoring of questions and support even greater security of question and candidate data.
The challenge for the RSGB was to find a supplier that had the flexibility to run exams that are both vocational and technical in nature. TestReach appealed because it had all the required question-authoring, marking and reporting functionality, alongside a modern and user-friendly interface. It also provided the flexibility to handle any type of exam content, while remaining easily adaptable to future changes. A non-profit enterprise like the RSGB did not want to commit to high up-front licence fees, and potentially additional costs for custom development. TestReach avoided these issues as it had a wealth of functionality to cater for current and likely future needs, and was also cost-effective with a pay-per-test model.
The RSGB initially ran a number of Foundation level exams as a proof of concept to validate that members were happy with the system in practice. A pilot was then run for Advanced level examinations papers, which was welcomed by all the candidates and clubs involved. “As soon as the clubs see it in action they give instant positive feedback and are really impressed,” said Dave Wilson, RSGB Examinations Quality Manager.
The candidates using TestReach welcomed the intuitive and easy-to-use workflow. When a candidate submitted their test, a reminder was given if they still had questions highlighted for checking or if they had missed a question. The exam was auto-scored and, within a few seconds, the result was displayed to the candidate together with access to a feedback sheet outlining the candidate’s achievements against set learning outcomes, which could be either saved or printed. This feature particularly received positive comment.
The RSGB found it hugely beneficial to store their exam data on TestReach, which is a cloud-based system. “I was relieved to have our question banks securely uploaded on TestReach, rather than on our single server as before,” said Ian Shepherd, RSGB Board Director. “Another big positive was that before using TestReach all the candidates in a club sat the same paper, but now a unique exam is created for each candidate, which maintains the integrity of exam questions as it is virtually impossible to copy or share them.”
Another benefit for the RSGB Headquarters was the significant reduction in the administration effort associated with printing exam papers and ensuring these were sent to each venue. “We were keen to reduce the time spent on this administrative work and to allow the people involved to take on a more managerial role,” said Shepherd.
The RSGB also recognises the quality and professionalism of the service they receive from TestReach. “Although we run huge numbers of exams through multiple clubs, at HQ we are a small organisation,” said Shepherd. “We greatly value the accessibility to expert project managers in TestReach who have helped move the process along, and with whom we have a developed a great relationship.”
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