Category Archives: DimensiONs

This section contains blogs demonstrating various product features of iON

Curbing question paper leaks through digitisation

Examinations can be nerve-wracking. Be it a school student appearing for the final examination, a teenager trying to crack competitive exams or a jobseeker taking a recruitment exam, the pressure to perform can unravel the best of them. Competition is stiff and candidates are, more often than not, battling pressure from parents, teachers and peers.

With so much riding on examinations, there is a critical need to ensure fairness and transparency. However, malpractices such as question paper leakage, impersonation of candidates and cheating with the help of advanced electronic devices among others, have always been a bane to the country’s examination system.

Such malpractices do not just mar the credibility of examinations but also make for a sour examination experience for both candidates and the exam-conducting boards.

Technology and digitisation, if leveraged right, can play a pivotal role in curbing examination malpractices and ensuring secure and transparent exams. Here are a few ways in which digitisation can help curb malpractices.

1) Question papers are set by machine with intelligent algorithms
A large bank of questions is created by a group of experts, and then the question paper is curated by a software algorithm that selects appropriate questions based on a Question Paper (QP) blueprint. No single individual has access to all the questions. Thus, the chances of question paper leaks are eliminated. In case of multiple choice-based exams, answers are marked by machine on the basis of pre-defined answer keys thus eliminating chances of human errors.

2) The question paper is encrypted and stored on secure servers
To ensure utmost security and seamless distribution, the question paper is digitally encrypted and stored in the memory of highly secure, standalone servers. It is decrypted only at the time of the first click by the candidate. This makes the question paper fully secured and gives a complete trace of access.

3) No two question papers are the same
Computer-based testing enables authoring of multiple question papers with the same format and level of difficulty. The selection of questions is randomized enabling a unique question paper for each candidate. Since the order of questions and the multiple-choice options is randomly shuffled for each candidate, copying answers across students sitting next to each other is impossible.

4) Constant tracking of candidate console for remote access
The candidate console (computer) constantly sniffs for RF and Bluetooth signals around. Any candidate attempting to use a phone or a Bluetooth device to get answers to the questions from external sources is identified, and the attempt is blocked.

The consoles are equipped with controlled access feature, which makes sure that no remote virtual network is able to infiltrate the system.

5) Real-time monitoring with centralised Command Centre
A centralized command centre makes it possible for exam bodies to access real-time feed of candidates. More than 200 parameters related to candidate, systems and administrators are constantly monitored to ensure a completely fair exam experience. Not only is each candidate monitored, but individual systems are constantly scanned to detect malpractice attempts.

These monitoring systems leverage Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms to even detect patterns in candidates’ movements or answer selection, that might imply cheating. And if such patterns are detected, alarms are automatically triggered to enable corrective measures.

Source –

Author – Venguswamy Ramaswamy,Global Head, TCS iON

Breaking the Barriers of Distance, Money, and Language in the Job Market

Top 5 Innovations for Equal Access to Job Opportunities in Tier 3 Cities.

“We can’t choose where we come from, but we can choose where we go from there.”

This quote by Stephen Chbosky perfectly summarizes the barriers that aspirational students from Tier 3 students are breaking right now for getting equal access to the jobs of their dreams. Let’s have a look at the top five innovations that are helping these students bag aspirational jobs at the same time as Tier 1 city students:

  • Common Eligibility Test for Recruitment

The last year in most graduate courses is a nail-biting one since it’s the placement season. In case of market recession, students start enquiring friends and family for job opportunities. They even begin looking for relevant jobs on their own, so that they don’t have to sit jobless after their graduation.

When we think of this easy access to jobs and opportunities, we assume that these students belong to a Tier 1 or Tier 2 city in India. Now imagine how tough it would be if the same situation occurred in a Tier 3 city. In addition to the uncertain placement opportunities in the city, students of a Tier 3 city are also burdened with the problem of travelling to multiple Tier 1 cities for interviews and entrance examinations, while burning a deep hole in their pockets for travelling, exam, and boarding and lodging expenses.

Many large corporates with substantial hiring numbers are expected to leverage technology to conduct a common national test for hiring. It will allow all eligible students to participate irrespective of the location and educational institute they come from. A common national test will allow companies to hire the best from a large number of candidates from multiple campuses.

The government recently in the Union Budget 2020 announced the Common Eligibility Test (CET) for recruitment to non-gazetted government posts. This computer-based online exam is expected to replace multiple exams that used to be conducted by recruiting agencies for these posts. A test centre is expected to come up in every district in India, especially the aspirational districts. 

  • Online Professional Certificate Programs

Contrary to popular belief, lack of academic skills is not a stumbling block in hiring talent from Tier 3 cities. A combination of communication skills, problem-solving skills, and technical skills lacking in students is the reason why most employers prefer students in Tier 1 cities.

Employers also argue that it isn’t feasible for them to travel to Tier 3 cities or sponsor the travel of students to Tier 1 cities to close this employment gap. Then what’s the solution?

Online professional certificate programs is a unique and effective solution that corporates and education platforms have come up with. Students can upskill themselves in industry-relevant programs such as Data Sciences, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning, and so on at a fraction of the actual costs within the comfort of their home. This is an excellent step towards fast-track career development for freshers and even for students while still in college!

  • Virtual Internships

The move from a Tier 3 city to a metro for job opportunities is not only overwhelming but also exhausting. Students say it isn’t their education which is a problem, but the place where they have received it from matters. Hands-on exposure via internships is almost non-existent even now in Tier 3 cities.

That’s when virtual internships can come to the rescue. Virtual internships provide students with much-needed confidence before they move to bigger cities for full-time jobs. The geographical barriers are broken, and a level playing field is created for students. A well-known virtual internship platform notes that in the last five years, virtual internships offered to Tier 2 and 3 city students have gone up by a staggering 6000%!

Most of these internships currently are in the space of web development, content writing, business development, and marketing. Virtual internships also provide a silver lining to students that in the future they might not have to migrate for jobs too. The jobs will come to them instead of the other way around.

  • Video Interviews

Video interviews act as a two-way street. They help recruiters extract talent from non-metro cities and allow students to apply for their dream jobs and work with top employers. Some of the top benefits of video interviews are:

  1. The video interviews allow recruiters to observe the technical skills, communication skills, and body language of the candidate in the initial rounds of recruitment without requiring any one to travel large distances.
  2. Video interviews are cost-effective and save a lot of time for both parties. Recruiters can easily squeeze in video interviews in-between a busy day in office, and job seekers can give interviews from the comfort of their home without spending a single penny. A stable internet connection is all that is required on both sides.
  • Vernacular Language Training Content

A leading corporate predicted that by the end of 2019, 80% of the global internet consumption would be via video content. These figures, when validated, will not be far from the actual data. Research also found out that more than 90% of consumer time is spent watching local language content in India. Combine these statistics with the growing access to fast internet, cheap smartphones, and technical training videos, and we can give a vast job market to deserving students in Tier 3 cities.

Access to quality learning through latest technologies such as AI, Blockchain, Machine Learning, and Cloud Computing is being provided via vernacular language YouTube channels. These channels are followed by lakhs of people in Tier 3 cities. The multilingual approach to technical training will bridge the language gap and help millions of students chart their career graphs in the global job market.

Mastering Computer-Based Tests

Seven Handpicked Best Practices for Candidates

A computer-based test or CBT, in simple terms, means taking a test on a computer instead of paper. Instead of using a paper and pen, one uses a keyboard and mouse to answer questions appearing on the computer monitor. Many major and high-stakes examinations in India like the JEE Mains, CAT and BITSAT have decided to go the CBT way.

The switch from paper to computers for assessments is not entirely surprising, given the surge of technology in almost every sphere of education. However, this method has attracted mixed responses from the candidate community. A lot of them still feel apprehensive and jittery about making the switch and prefer to take the paper-based assessments.

Let us put you at rest by sharing the top seven best practices for students taking computer-based tests:

Before the assessment:

  • Online Mock Assessments: Most of the high-stakes examinations are taken by either people pursuing full-time graduation courses or working professionals. They can’t go to physical examination centers to take mock tests. So online mock assessments allow them the flexibility to prepare for tests at their convenience. Another advantage is picking up a lot of crucial test skills like time management, familiarity with exam patterns and marking criteria, answering strategies, and knowing the probable questions. Lastly, mock assessments provide instant feedback and detailed analysis, which helps test takers rectify their errors and prepare accordingly.
  • Time Management: Many candidates either take on too much pressure while mastering this strategy or too little. The idea is not to stress yourself and focus on achieving smaller goals. The initial goal while writing a mock test could be to try and attempt all the questions without keeping a timer. Once you become familiar with the questions, pattern, and answering strategies, start timing yourself. In the beginning, note the time you take. Subsequently, with each test, try and reduce the time you take by small margins while also observing how much time you require on each section of the test. By the final round of mock tests, attempt to have at least 15 minutes of your total time to check, and revisit your entire exam or sections.
  • Calming your nerves before a test: Test anxiety is something that candidates across age groups go through. Speaking to peers and seniors before an upcoming test helps in multiple ways. It allows candidates to double-check any uncertainties that they might have and find solutions through collaboration. This gives them more confidence and calms their nerves before a high stakes test. The discussion also brings up various nuances and tips from the seniors and peers that the candidate might not have thought of earlier.

On the day of the assessment:

  • Arriving early at the exam center: Arriving early at the exam center has two significant benefits. First, it allows you to complete all the entry formalities in a calm and organized manner before most other candidates. Secondly, the extra time will enable one to de-stress and familiarize themselves with the exam center – the seating arrangements, testing digital equipment like the computer, mouse, keyboard, and earphones, and checking the water and restroom facilities.
  • Reading “Instructions for Candidates”: A lot of candidates may feel that they might save time by skipping reading the instructions and use that time for answering questions instead. But a lot of them don’t know that the “reading instructions” time is given in addition to the assessment time. These instructions also have some crucial points that the mock tests might not have covered or might be specific to the test center. Some exams have now also started having invigilators read out the instructions aloud to all the test-takers so that everyone has the same experience while taking the test.
  • Answering section-wise assessments: Certain assessments do not have any stipulated time attached to each section. They also do not have any designated order in which a candidate should solve the sections. This allows candidates to switch between sections freely. If you are taking such an exam, use this advantage to go through all the questions before answering, check their difficulty level, and plan your answering strategy accordingly.
  • “Mark for Review” option: This feature allows candidates to flag specific questions and revisit them later. This option might be used in various scenarios, some of which are: the question is confusing or difficult, the answer might take time, one isn’t sure of the response and doesn’t want to spend too much time recalling it. Once the candidate marks the question/s for review, it is marked in a different color, so that it is easier for them to revisit it later.

We hope that the above best practices will help you prepare for your assessments in an organized and effective manner and make you calmer on the day of the assessment.

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TCS iON IntelliGem 2020 Winners to be Crowned at Finale

Mumbai: TCS iON, a strategic unit of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) (BSE: 532540, NSE: TCS), a leading global IT services, consulting and business solutions organization, announced that the young finalists of the second edition of TCS iON IntelliGem are all set to compete for the National title at the grand finale to be held on January 26.

TCS iON IntelliGem helps young learners develop 21st century skills covering five key areas – Creativity and lnnovation, Communication, Financial Literacy, Universal Values, and Global Citizenship. This year, more than 10,000 of the brightest students of class 5-9, across 396 schools registered for the national-level contest. The top 50 students that successfully cleared the qualifying rounds of proctored digital tests in their respective schools, the city rounds, and the phygital one-on-one interviews in the pre-finals have been shortlisted for the final test, being held in Mumbai. Here they will go through a variety of group activities and one-on-ones with an expert panel.

The winning students and their schools stand to win exciting rewards including cash prizes, new age toys, leadership training, trophies, and certificates. The top performing schools will receive School Excellence awards and gain national recognition.

Venguswamy Ramaswamy, Global Head, TCS iON, said, “We are delighted with the overwhelming participation this year. 21st century skills are more important to students now than ever before. TCS iON IntelliGem has been conceptualized to empower students and provide them a framework to thrive in a world where change is constant and learning never stops. It is our responsibility as educationists and EdTech enablers to constantly develop interesting interventions that can help the schools inculcate these critical skills in their children. We need to continuously build capabilities among the students to be successful in life and work beyond academics.”

The Draft National Education Policy also endorses the critical need to equip students with 21st century skills, early on. To help schools integrate these subjects into their curriculum, TCS iON has organized conclaves for Principals and Educators in 24 lndian cities.


Skilling Gen Z beyond Classrooms


Venguswamy Ramaswamy discusses how TCS iON is preparing the ‘gems of tomorrow’ as ‘nation builders of the future’ by equipping students with skills beyond just academics.

In this 21st century, students are expected to constantly prove their mettle by navigating through more skills, capabilities and competition. Much of what students typically learn in schools today will no longer be relevant by the time they graduate from college. A recent Oxford University study found that 47 percent of today’s jobs will be eliminated over the next 20 years! Now consider this — most schools across our country are still largely focused on rote learning with very little input on the additional skills required to survive in this increasingly complex, competitive and rapidly changing world. The future is beyond academics just as careers are beyond the conventional ones.


In a society where routine jobs are getting increasingly automated, the best way to prepare for the future is to develop the ability to continuously learn, adapt and be flexible. Educators, academic researchers and policymakers agree that for today’s learners, 21st century skills such as creativity, curiosity, perseverance, adaptability, critical thinking, effective communication, collaboration and lifelong learning are more important than ever before.

With a vision to help schools and students across the country gain a strong understanding of these much-acclaimed 21st century skills, TCS iON has created IntelliGem — a first-of-its-kind meta-academic platform set in a unique contest mode. The goal of this national-level contest is to ignite a spark among educators and young minds and push the boundaries of growth beyond the school curriculum.


The topics covered in the IntelliGem contest are financial literacy, communication skills, creativity and innovation, global citizenship and universal values. These have been carefully chosen to give the necessary exposure to students during their formative (school) years. The jobs of the future will depend on human collaboration to design work for machines. Value is moving from cognitive skills to social skills. In the past, schoolwork was assessed on individual accomplishment. Today, teamwork and collaboration have become an important key to success.

A century ago, most scientific research was written by single authors; by the 1950s, it changed to co-authorship as the norm. Today, an average paper has four times as many authors as it did a century ago. Also, academic research is far more interdisciplinary, and is often conducted across greater physical distances than it was in the past. To co-ordinate all that activity and keep everyone focused on delivering a specific, high-quality experience, communication must be clear and coherent. Skills in collaboration will increasingly give a competitive advantage.

Routine jobs are the ones that are being replaced by automation. However, jobs requiring skills such as creativity, innovation, compassion and empathy are those, which are unlikely to be taken over by machines. The absence of empathy makes it difficult for machines to do what humans have excelled in — designing products or processes that will maximise utility for humans. Thus, design and creative skills are likely to be in high demand for decades to come.


Students from grades 5 to 9 from all over India can participate in TCS iON IntelliGem, which is conducted every year. In its second edition, which is underway, students from 100+ towns across the country are competing. Structured as a four-round contest moving from digital, phygital, to face-to-face rounds, IntelliGem is unique in every way — be it in using the patented TCS iON PAPERTM device to completely remove the need for printed paper or in providing digital learning content free of cost. The Teachers Network in the TCS iON Digital Hub platform significantly enhances ease of access for both students and teachers to learn and upgrade their skills, and thus keep up with the values of respecting the efforts of all the young student finalists and not just the winner and runners-up as it usually happens at contests with similar formats.

With initiatives like IntelliGem, TCS iON is well positioned to become a strong partner for the school education ecosystem.

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Everything You Need to Know About Adaptive Testing

What is Adaptive Testing?

Adaptive Testing, also known as Computerized Adaptive Testing or Tailored Testing, is a method of using algorithms and machine learning to make tests more optimal, effective, and efficient. 

Every time a candidate answers a question, the test analyses the response and based on it, decides the difficulty level of the next question. The test, with each response, also determines the number of questions required to assess the mastery level of the candidate. 

At the beginning of the test, a candidate will start with a medium difficulty question. If he/she answers it correctly, the next question will be more difficult, or easier if answered incorrectly. Adaptive tests do not have a fixed number of questions; they end when the termination criterion is met, which means that as soon as the test has determined the ability of the test taker and has marked him/her accordingly, it ends.

Advantages of Adaptive Testing

  • Accurate scoring: Data collected for standard paper-pencil tests over the years shows that they provide the best precision for only medium-ability test takers. Test takers with extreme abilities are the most affected. In contrast, adaptive testing is fairer because the test designer has customized control over score precision for each test taker. Hence, it is said to be more precise from a psychometric point of view.
  • Increased psychometric efficiency: Similar to pedagogy, it is tough to engage and analyse high ability examinees with extremely trivial questions and lower ability examinees with difficult questions. Adaptive testing doesn’t administer such questions, significantly reducing the number of questions required to test a candidate. As a result, the amount of time needed to test each candidate optimally is reduced substantially. The seat time savings cost can be between 50 to 90 per cent. In addition to time being saved, it also increases candidate engagement. A higher ability candidate will not have to waste any time solving easy questions and can concentrate all his mental energy on the questions specially designed for him/her without ever feeling bored.
  • Security: Since each candidate receives a unique set of questions, there is very little chance of cheating. Even in the case of re-examination, candidates are given a different set of questions from the question bank.
  • Cost: Adaptive tests use a technology called Item Response Theory (IRT) for the design process. IRT is a way to analyze responses to questions to improve both accuracy and reliability. While investigating a candidate’s responses, IRT looks at not only the number of correct answers the candidate has answered but also the level of difficulty of those questions. The SAT and GRE both use IRT for their tests.

IRT is used to convert adaptive tests from fixed-length tests to variable lengths. This means tests can be finished in lesser time, with lesser number of questions, and with higher accuracy. Test time can be cut down to as much as half, leading to a substantial decrease in costs.

Although the engagement and uniqueness of questions provided to test takers are high, it isn’t straightforward for them to complete a timed test. If a person with high ability ends up spending too much time on one difficult question, he/she will not be able to keep aside enough time for the next set of questions and will end up handing over an incomplete answer sheet. An untimed adaptive test is also a tough option for high-stakes summative assessments for aptitude jobs.

In conclusion, adaptive testing is beneficial for both students and instructors. Students get a chance to personalize their learning experience, be responsible for setting their own pace and identify their problem areas. As for the instructors, it is easier for them to work in mixed-ability large classrooms, make better instruction plans for students, and make optimum use of the classroom time and resources.

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