Could tech be the secret to the success of online exams?

A vast country with far-flung areas, India sees a plethora of nationwide exams annually – from recruitment exams for government jobs such as banking services IBPS and the UPSC exams for civil services recruitment; to GATE exams for master’s degree programmes, IIT-JEE for admission into the prestigious IITs, NEET exams for undergraduate medical entrance, NDA, CLAT, CAT, IES, RRB and more, we are a country of exam takers!

Students, job aspirants, and others take these exams from multiple test centres, relying on a mixture of paper-and-pencil format tests, computer-supported tests, live interviews and group discussions and other formats of assessments.

Could tech be the secret to the success of online exams?

Plagued by plenty?

However, almost all these exams suffer from some common pain points. The scale of these exams is massive – for example, IIT JEE Mains saw 22 lakhs (2.2 million) applicants in 2021. UPSC aspirants numbered over 10 lakh in 2020. The number of IBPS applicants over the years 2020 and 2021 were over 50 lakhs. The logistics of conducting such gargantuan exercises annually across a large geography with varying internet connectivity and power infrastructure are huge. Conducting error-free, fraud-proof exams and releasing accurate results in a timely fashion is far from a trivial exercise. The use of online proctoring tools for government examinations could help overcome several such challenges.

Most exams have deployed a variety of technological solutions to cope with ever-increasing numbers of applicants. But, the risks of fraud and cheating from impersonation, copying to using gadgets to cheat and more are very real. So are the errors emanating from the conduct of the exams

Present-day issues include exacerbated safety and hygiene concerns due to the pandemic – both for the test-takers as well as for examination bodies, institutions, proctors, interviewers and logistics personnel.

Online proctoring for nationwide examinations, especially the large ones at scale may be a sound remedy for these ills. As exams move online, aided by the twin winds of technological progress and pandemic forces, technological aids are a natural addition to online testing.

How online proctoring works

The term online proctoring encompasses a technology to monitor tests live with human proctors or auto proctoring powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Live proctors can verify the identity of candidates, monitor video and audio feeds, chat with candidates, pause tests, and disqualify candidates in case of violations. AI-enabled proctoring tech gives test conductors rapid access to a final score of high/medium/low/no suspicion for each candidate.

AI-powered proctoring for government jobs comes with its own set of pros and cons. At all times, exams must be conducted in an environment of trust – ensuring candidates are evaluated in a fair, non-intrusive setting. The internet is rife with stories of students and job aspirants who have been unfairly penalised and given low/zero scores for trivial issues such as reading questions aloud or looking around the room during the online exam.

The impact of online proctoring exams on student performance in such vital career-making exams can only be positive. AI facilitates objective decision making as against humans, in contrast to human proctors who may be subjective.

Machine Learning (ML) models inherit the biases of their creators and the data they trained on, leading to allegations that people with certain facial features or mannerisms are not recognised accurately by facial recognition software. When it particularly comes to government jobs, there must absolutely be no suspicion of unfairness or bias, let alone any scope for errors and malicious activity – such failures can assume political overtones in a jiffy.

However, these issues are found in early or immature versions of online proctoring software. Online proctoring has matured over the last few years, with unparalleled features such as auto-detection of fraudulent behaviour and live, automated warnings of suspicious activities. HirePro’s AI-powered proctoring platform has high reliability and compatibility with low bandwidth. It has become India’s leading online proctoring platform today.

The time for online proctoring is now

Online proctoring helps enhance the quality of nationwide exams giving them more credibility and helping examiners source better candidates. Online proctoring for government exams can be conducted on secure, transparent platforms with high reliability and availability in varying bandwidth situations. When the platform quality is assured, test takers can focus on the test worry-free and deliver their best performance – leading to the sourcing of the best possible candidates.

As a technology that assists humans in making better decisions, online proctoring can deliver a win-win for all parties in nationwide online examinations!