These days we often use, or hear the word “proctored” when it comes to exams, but what exactly are we talking about?
Essentially, a “proctor” is simply someone who supervises or monitors students during an exam. Remember sitting in your school’s stuffy sports hall, surrounded by rows and rows of your classmates, as you sat your GCSEs? The teachers, or external people brought in to hand out the papers and maintain discipline during the test process, were all proctors.
You may well have heard the term “invigilator” being used before; they’re basically the same thing.
A proctored exam, therefore, is an exam that is supervised by someone else.
Traditionally, the vast majority of exams were proctored, simply because it made sense. You’d have large numbers of students participating in an exam at the same time, therefore people were needed to ensure everything was set up properly, problems were immediately handled and no one was being disruptive or cheating.
Now, in our post-Covid world, things have had to change. Thanks to social distancing and concerns over student health, many exams have been moved to an online platform instead. Whilst this obviously solves all the problems associated with physical attendance at exam centres or educational institutions, it unfortunately creates new ones.
How do you know who’s taking the exam?
With traditional school or college exams you would simply enter the venue, be recognised by your teacher or member of staff, and sit your exam. In other situations you may be required to provide your photographic ID at the point of attendance, and have this checked before you sat down to your paper.
Neither of those things can occur when it comes to online exams, so how can you be sure the right person is taking the exam? Surely, someone could simply arrange for their brother, cousin, friend or even paid for freelancer to sit their paper instead in the hopes of securing a better grade.
With online proctored exams photographic ID still needs to be presented in order to verify the correct person is taking the exam. This can be done in a variety of ways, depending on how the exam is being proctored. For example, auto-proctored exams rely on Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition scans to confirm identity whilst live proctored exams will stick to ID confirmation via webcam.
How can you prevent cheating?
Exams should be fair across the board, which means making sure no one is able to cheat their way to a better mark. With online exams the opportunity to cheat is significantly increased; however, there are solutions. Thanks to the presence of a live proctor, students can be monitored throughout the entirety of their examination period to ensure that all the rules and guidelines are being followed at all times. This means that not only is cheating prevented, but any other potential infringements can be picked up immediately and deal with, without jeopardising the whole exam process