proctored tests
Online proctored tests allows students to take their exam anywhere. Source: Anthony Wallace/AFP

Chances are, your life as a university student has been upended since COVID-19 gripped the planet. All university activities have ceased to continue, while on-campus learning shifts online. But for better or worse, in-person exams are also being cancelled, paving the way for proctored tests, where an online proctoring service or software will invigilate you virtually.

Universities that engage in these services typically require students to install an extension in the browser of their personal computers or mobile devices for their exams. 

The software will have access to your computers’ webcam and microphone, recording your environment as well as audio as you take your test. Suspicious behaviour will be flagged.

Many universities have turned to online proctoring services, including the Australian National University (ANU), the University of Florida, Texas Tech University, to name a few.

There are many online proctoring providers, one of which includes Proctorio, which said they use “state-of-the-art technology and end-to-end data security” and “ensures the total learning integrity of every assessment, every time”. 

They added that their software uses advanced machine learning and facial detection technology to deliver accurate, reliable exam proctoring that outperforms human proctors. 

“All data analytics and suspicious behaviors are captured during the assessment, and integrity reports are immediately available for review upon exam submission,” it said.

If your university will be following suit with online proctored tests, here’s what you should  know about this new norm on assessments:

A real person will be reviewing your video during proctored tests

proctored tests

During online proctored tests, your instructor may not be watching you in real-time, but he or she will review the video later. Source: Frederick Florin/AFP

There will be differences between different online proctoring providers, but typically, a real person may not necessarily be observing you take your test in real-time. For instance, Proctorio notes that the exam data is recorded and will be made available exclusively to your course instructor — and no one else.

Meanwhile, another online proctoring service Honorlock notes that they use AI technology to monitor your session; if it senses that something is wrong, it will trigger a live proctor pop in, who will then assess the situation, help you get back on track and send any notes about the incident to your instructor.

You must use a computer with a webcam and microphone

You will need a computer that has a webcam and access to a microphone to use an online proctoring software or its extension. Alternatively, you will need to borrow a computer with these capabilities or purchase a webcam and microphone.

You can take your proctored tests anywhere

As long as you have reliable Internet access and a computer with a webcam and microphone. Avoid taking the test with someone else in the room with you.

Proctored tests are browser-based

proctored tests

Many online proctored tests are browser-based.
Source: Apu Gomes/ AFP

Worried about “heavy” software installation in your computer? Don’t worry — many online proctoring companies such as ProctorU, Proctorio and Honorlock are browser-based to save you the hassle.

Certain actions can trigger a proctor pop in

There are certain things you might want to avoid during a take-home exam, such as leaving your seat or looking off-screen for too long.

For example, Honorlock notes: “Our AI system is built to ensure that you keep your focus on your exam without any external distractions. You may trigger a live proctor pop-in due to insufficient lighting, background noise or an incomplete room scan.”

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