Preparing for the online proctoring reality

Taking a test is stressful under normal circumstances. That anxiety is bound to increase if students are confronted with complex technology systems or a lack of information about how to navigate the new virtual learning environment. That’s why our first recommendation to institutions is to keep an open line of communication with test takers and to ensure they’re technologically equipped for online exams. 


To help in that process, here’s what students and educators need to know about online proctoring: 


Prepare to use a computer or laptop: The vast majority of remote proctoring systems require that test takers use desktop or laptop computers with built-in webcams or any standard webcam purchased and manufactured within the last 5 years. Test takers must also have a stable Internet connection to ensure their tests are submitted without difficulty. At this time, most proctoring systems are incompatible with smartphones and tablets. 


Privacy and data security concerns are real: In a digital-first world, fears of invasion of privacy and stolen information are common among test takers. But with strict privacy regulations, online proctoring is not “Big Brother.” Just like test takers do their homework and study, institutions and educators must do their part and be deliberate when choosing a remote proctoring program. Some proctoring services have their policies on their websites, while others require more digging. Once you have this information in hand, it is important to communicate to students the exact features and policies of the proctoring software used to monitor their test before they take it.  Some questions to consider: 


  • Will a human proctor be seen through the screen, or is it a software program?
  • Are videos sent to educators and institutions after the exam?
  • Is the program disruptive to the test-taking process?
  • What personal information is required?
  • Is the service compliant with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which governs access to educational information and records by public entities, ensuring both the institution and the test takers are protected?

Live support is critical: Even though we live in a technologically advanced world, none of us are exempt from technical difficulties. Whether a WiFi connection was lost or a page failed to load, live technical support is useful in making sure test takers are not put at a disadvantage because of technical difficulties. It offers solutions in real-time and provides peace of mind both for students and for institutions, helping to ensure exams are uploaded correctly and that questions are answered fast. 


Institutions have to play an active role in the test-taking process: No remote proctoring service can solve problems outside of its own software, so it is important that the institutions using these services are actively involved in the process. While proctoring services can solve technical difficulties within the software, the test itself is the responsibility of the educator and institution: Tests need to be compatible with whatever software the institution uses. Instructions need to be clear and direct. The test must go live at the appointed start time to give students all the time they need to succeed. And those responsibilities rest with the institution. Then, your online proctoring service steps in to preserve the integrity of the test. If you have any questions about the extent of support from your remote proctoring provider, you can always contact your customer service provider directly.