What is an online proctored exam?

An online proctored exam is a timed assessment via an online platform in which the candidates’ desktop activity, webcam video, and audio are monitored. There are two main forms of online proctoring. In the first, proctoring software will record this data and then send it to an external proctoring service to review. In the second, a human proctor supervises the exam taking place via a webcam.

This guide includes information for employers, academic institutions and credentialing organizations which are considering running online proctored exams. We’ll explain more about these assessments, how they work, the various types, the benefits, and how to set one up.

Looking to organize an online proctored exam right away? Questionmark provides an online assessment platform with proctoring services available. Contact us or book a demo today.

What does ‘proctored’ mean?

Also known as invigilation, proctoring is the act of supervising candidates during an examination. The purpose of this is to ensure that the exam process is fair and equal for all candidates.  When the stakes are high, it’s crucial to guard against cheating, impersonating a candidate, or copying questions to share with others.

We have all experienced some form of proctoring or invigilation during our time in education or employment, and most of us will be familiar with how it works. Online proctoring simply translates this same process of monitoring exam candidates’ activity into a digital format for assessments taking place online.

In an online context, the exam can either be proctored by a piece of specially designed software or a human invigilator who monitors the candidates using webcams and remote computer access (more on these different types of online proctoring below).

The different types of online proctoring

There are different types of online proctoring depending on how test makers want the exam to be invigilated. Each of these formats uses different methods to prevent cheating, content theft, impersonation, and other forms of test fraud.

The two main types of online proctoring are:

Proctoring Record & Review The candidates’ computer activity, webcam video, and audio are recorded by software and shared with the online proctoring service via the cloud. The data is then reviewed.
Proctoring OnlineAn invigilator observes the candidates in real time during the exam. They have remote access to the candidates’ computer activity and can also see and hear them via webcams, allowing them to spot signs of test fraud.

At Questionmark, we offer both proctoring online and proctoring record and review through our assessment software. 

If you are carrying out in-person assessments, we can also provide the tools required for on-site proctoring in a test center (including the ability to start, pause, and stop tests for an individual or group and monitor a group’s progress).

Visit the Questionmark platform page to learn more or book a demo today to see how it works for yourself.

How do proctoring online exams work?

The organizers of an online proctored exam need two things: an online assessment platform and proctoring software (or a live proctoring service with an invigilator to monitor candidates).

The process of conducting an online proctored exam works as follows:

  1. The exam organizers create the assessment in an online platform and arrange for an online proctoring service.
  2. If proctoring software is being used, the candidates will often need to install this onto their computers before the assessment begins.
  3. At the start of the assessment, the identity of all candidates is checked to prevent others from impersonating them and taking the exam on their behalf. With live proctoring, ID checks are carried out by a human invigilator; with software-based proctoring, candidates take a photo of their face and ID using a webcam.
  4. Once the ID verification has taken place, checks are conducted on the candidates’ exam environments to prevent any cheating from taking place.
  5. The rules of the online proctored exam are explained to the candidates. This typically includes things like no speaking, referring to notes, using other software on a computer or copying down exam content to share with others.
  6. During the assessment, the candidates are monitored to ensure that they follow the rules. A human invigilator may observe the candidates’ activity via webcam and screen share. Alternatively, all computer activity, webcam video, and audio may be checked via software.
  7. If proctoring record and review has been used, the exam recordings will be reviewed by the service provider after it has finished.

Each of these steps is designed to ensure that the assessment is completely fair and prevent any test fraud from taking place.

The benefits of online proctored exams

There are plenty of reasons to choose an online proctored exam when organizing an assessment:

  • It’s easy to verify candidates’ ID and prevent impersonation.
  • As all candidates are closely monitored, online proctoring reduces all forms of cheating.
  • Exams through online platforms are highly customisable, with a wide range of assessment types available.
  • Online proctored exams are easier to manage than in-person assessments.
  • Testing candidates online is highly scalable – you can assess large numbers of candidates at the same time, and even add extra candidates after the initial booking without needing a larger test center.
  • Online assessments are convenient and accessible for everyone involved. They can be arranged at a time to suit both organizers and candidates, which is better suited to how people now work and study with the rise of hybrid working and distance learning.
  • Research shows that online proctoring reduces test fraud.

How to set up an online proctored exam

Whether you’re looking to assess potential candidates for a job role, test the effectiveness of your employee training programme, or examine students, there are plenty of use cases for online proctored exams – and they’re easy to set up:

  1. The first thing to do is to find a suitable online assessment platform and proctoring service. Many companies like Questionmark will be able to provide you with both.
  2. From here, you just need to create your assessment questions and organize the exam.
  3. Your provider will send you the results when they’re ready after the exam, as well as ensuring that no test fraud takes place during the exam itself.

Next steps

This guide has explained what online proctored exams are, how they work, the different types, the benefits, and how to set one up. Learn more about how to protect the integrity of online exams and ensure an equitable assessment process on our proctoring hub.

For organizations looking to set up any form of online assessment, Questionmark offers the perfect solution with a range of online proctoring methods available. Visit the Questionmark platform page to learn more or book a demo today.