By Venguswamy Ramaswamy, Global Head, TCS iON
In a country like India, where malpractices galore and results gets delayed, computer-based test (CBT) brings in a large number of advantages to the students and to the administrators. The advantages are many. Some include:
- Superior candidate experience in the application, fee payment and other pre-exam activities
- Confidentiality of question papers until the last moment of the exam start time
- Transparency in the system with the availability of digital footprint at every step
- Controls to monitor, detect and prevent any malpractice attempts including impersonation
- Higher productivity in the execution of the end-to-end exam process
- Speed of execution resulting in exam boards ability to shorten the process timeline
- A strong set of analytics driven by digital data helps the board to extract valuable insights.
New approaches to cheat, indulge in malpractices gets developed by miscreants regularly. Every CBT platform provider needs to be constantly on the edge and ensure adequate controls are enhanced in the platform continuously. Some of the key security measures that matured CBT platforms provide include:
- Impersonation Detection using biometric and facial recognition algorithms
- Multi-dimensional randomisation covering exam centre, shift allocation, candidate lab, candidate seating inside a lab, item (Question) positioning within a question paper, options position for an item, staff allocated for an exam center, invigilator allocation to an exam center.
- Watermark in the Screen uniquely identifying the candidate
- RF Signal and Bluetooth Signal scrambler to stop external solvers getting connected with exam candidates
- Isolated, protected Local Area Network keeping the exams free from external hacks
- A uniquely ordered question paper for every candidate
- A unique process that assures that the access to the entire Question Paper is not available to any human being until the start of the exam
- System assembled question paper from a bank of questions authored by a group of experts
- Encrypted Question Papers being shared securely just before the start of the exam
- Decryption of the question paper at the first candidate click in the exam center
- Hard binding of the computer for a candidate thereby preventing the choice of location in the exam center
- Continuous Self-Monitoring algorithms in the candidate computer relaying back information on the set of process and activities along with alerts to a central command center
- Live CCTV feed of exam labs with necessary alerts to monitor exam conduct from a central location
- Post Exam analytics with detection of suspicious duplicate candidates (where there is a match for both correct and incorrect responses)
- Detection and prevention of any attempt to connect external physical devices to the computer that is conducting the exam for the candidate
- An assessment specific operating system that governs the exam with controls and drives fair and free exam experience. It allows dynamic internet check, biometric verification, candidate behavior tracking and eliminates dependency on third-party operating environments
All of the above are part of the security capabilities that matured CBT platforms provide. There are several other capabilities that tightly control the security in pre-exam, during-exam and post-exam conduct activities. The adoption of new security measures in the examination system has not only helped reduce malpractices significantly, but has also greatly helped identify fraudsters. One of the major concerns for the education system is the exam fraud racket in India and these technologies are addressing these concerns continually.
- Signal Sniffing: RF and Bluetooth signal sniffing help identify a candidate’s engagement in unfair exam practices.
- Live monitoring: For candidates appearing for an exam from remote locations, they are monitored by a proctor through a live online proctoring, observing the candidate via a video camera. The examination activity is recorded, and an alarm is raised using advanced analytics if any malpractice is detected. This technology eliminates the prospects of conspiracy between candidates and invigilators.
- Candidate System Management: The local system is constantly monitored for dynamic internet checking, detection of virtualized environment, detection of additional hardware and other such attempts to identify fraudsters real-time.
Most of the fraudsters swindle students out of thousands with false promises and assurance of good marks. In a state of desperation, students tend to give in to such dishonest acts instead of trusting themselves. Majority of candidates who attempt to cheat during exams end up at the police station with an FIR filed against them. It is important that students become aware about trusting their abilities and relying on themselves to be successful, as these malpractices will put their careers at stake. Additionally, there exists an unspoken pressure among candidates appearing for exams, which leads them to fraudulent activities. Students’ mental health is of utmost importance and therefore, must be addressed.