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Examination and Proctoring | 4 Min Read

The Advantages and Disadvantages of an Online Examination System

What Is an Online Examination System?

An online examination is conducted digitally to evaluate students’ academic knowledge and understanding of the curriculum, along with their ability to use creativity to devise new ideas and solutions. Evaluations typically continue to be based on the pen-and-paper approach, wherein students are gathered and handed the paper to be completed within the allotted time. Students then submit their answer sheets, and after the evaluation, examiners disclose students’ scores.

With the advent of the online examination system, the new method of conducting assessments has come to fore. While the traditional methodology persists, but in place of an examination center, students log into an online system to take the test and share their responses. The evaluation and circulation of results are carried out by the assessor.

Advantages of an Online Examination System

There are several advantages of adopting an online examination system at educational institutions. Given below are some benefits of switching to an online exam system:

0_Addressing environmental concern

Addressing Environmental Concern:

The traditional pen-and-paper exams can have detrimental effects on the environment. Considering the copious waste of paper, we must find the means to minimize the usage of natural resources. In a world where addressing the climate change crisis is our utmost priority,  adopting an online exam system would substantially aid in safeguarding the environment. 

0_Technologically advanced

Technologically Advanced:

The all-pervasive nature of technology and its impact on the way of life is fading the difference between real and virtual. There is a considerably lower use of pen and paper in the digital age. A vast majority of professionals rely on computers for emails, presentations, digital designing, and various other tasks. Human preference has altered considerably with the infusion of technology. 

One of the many advantages of using the online examination system is that it is enabling examiners/recruiters to scale up their evaluation process without glitches. It is also making inroads into the student fraternity as ease and ubiquity have given them greater access to education. Their familiarity with online exam platforms is growing by the day. The more they are comfortable with such an interface and process, the better will be their efficiency when using the system.

0_Minimizes cost of labor

Minimizes Cost of Labor:

There’s so much that goes into setting up a single examination – from teachers toiling to manage exams successfully to administrators, who must ensure utmost convenience for all examinees. Thereby using an online exam platform eliminates redundant and expensive processes, which, in turn, bolsters the bottom line of the educational institution administering the system.

0_In the interest of time

In the Interest of Time:

The enormity of the task is known to everyone involved in the process of designing, managing, and evaluating assessments – from students to teachers. One of the essential benefits of an online examination system is that it reduces the amount of time invested in overseeing the entire examination process. The exam platform saves precious time for both students and teachers- which would otherwise be wasted on repetitive tasks. The exam software features the option of adding and importing questions, enabling students to access the exam, and facilitating batch-wise examinations. 

0_Limiting overheads

Limiting Overheads:

Organizers are grappling with the problem of increasing overheads such as costs associated with securing an exam venue, printing question papers, providing students with exam answer-sheets along with supplementary materials. The benefits of an online examination system can only be realized when it’s been adopted to improve the efficacy of the examination process.

0_Better security and privacy

Better Security and Privacy:

One of the main advantages of online exams is the enhanced privacy of students, which, in turn, validates the usefulness of the entire process. There is no room for conducting malicious activities to rig the system and produce incorrect results, indulge in cheating or any other such unlawful practices.

In such a secure system, students will also confidentially receive results, which will encourage positive growth and suppress negative emotions, if any. Such levels of security and privacy foster a more positive mindset towards the educational institution and build a stronger trust between teachers and students, ensuring transparency and bias-free results.

Disadvantages of an Online Examination System

0_Open-book exams

Open-Book Exams:

More often than not, the format of online exams is perceived, to some extent, like an open book. It is because, unlike a traditional exam setting where external materials were not allowed inside the exam hall, there is no such provision in the digital format. In fact, it is difficult to stop students from referring to their study materials during an online assessment. Moreover, there is a lack of supervision during the exam session, which jeopardizes the credibility of these tests.

However, an advanced online platform like Mercer | Mettl offers immaculate solutions to address the challenge in online remote proctoring. This unique service puts a curb on cheating by providing online proctoring services to keep candidates from indulging in untoward activities. Using this service, teachers can safeguard examination integrity. If the candidate deviates from his computer screen to open a reference material or seeks support from another person, or even attempts to open multiple tabs on the browser, proctors will flag such a suspicious behavior and take appropriate actions. 

0_Adopting new technology

Adopting New Technology:

Implementing a new system may create a small disruption and require a period of familiarisation by the users. Any transition from traditional methodology to online mode will require investments from educational institutions to upgrade systems. However, making both students and teachers familiar with this transition is the ideal way forward. Such training would educate students and teachers about the new features and benefits of online examination systems. 

0_Infrastructural limitations-08

Infrastructural Limitations:

While there are ample benefits of online examination systems that can positively impact the lives of students and teachers across the world, there are inevitable infrastructural limitations. Many factors influence the user experience around the globe, such as poor internet connectivity, power shortage, and other infrastructural issues. 

As the world is moving towards standardized tests and online assessment systems, entrance exams have not remained the same. GRE was one of the first exams to move to an online examination format in 1993, followed by GMAT in 1997 and CAT in 2009. Nowadays, it’s common for examination bodies to go online and make an impact by reaching a wider audience. If implemented correctly, the online examination system lends unparalleled ease, greater flexibility, and widespread reach.

Trends in teaching and assessment

Trends in Teaching and Assessment:

The ubiquity of technology like iPads, personal computers, etc. have eased the rigorous task of transition to online examination software. A vast majority of schools and colleges use a learning management system (LMS), also publishing study material on the cloud. Moodle, Blackboard, Desire2Learn are the leading management systems used by various reputed institutions.

This alternative mode of teaching has enabled educators to impart advanced-level skills and techniques to their students, while also giving them the ease of evaluation and grading. Students, conversely, benefit from such systems as they can now write their tests and submit their assignments from the comfort of their home. 

GRE, GMAT, GATE, and CAT are some of the most competitive exams in the world; they are also known to be the most challenging. These entrance tests are not only difficult for students to ace, but equally challenging for the management to set the paper each year, besides evaluating and grading responses.

0_Computer-based tests- Some apprehensions too

Computer-Based Tests: Some Apprehensions Too

No positive change ushers without significant challenges. Conducting online assessment too has its fair share of problems: the two most common being cheating and technical glitches. The possibility of fraud during an online test can’t be ruled out. Also, since these assessments are cloud-based, it seems a difficult proposition to manage thousands of them simultaneously. Data security is also an added concern among education institutes. The top risk of losing test content due to inadequate data security measures implemented at the server end may compel evaluators to adopt this mode of assessment despite its evident drawback.

IIT-JEE, one of the most prestigious engineering entrance exams in India, rolled out both offline and online exams in the year 2014. The fact that the exam regulatory authority acknowledged the online exam as extremely important for both examiners and candidates attested to its popularity. Now candidates could give answers with just a click of the button. However, some concerned authorities believed that system failure or power outages might become a significant bottleneck.

Although using the online examination platform as a method of evaluating a candidate’s performance has its pros and cons, it is becoming increasingly popular amongst evaluators and candidates alike. With continuous technological advancements and our growing reliance on the internet, almost all of us have likely encountered an online test, during our school or college days. Computer-based tests provide more flexibility to the assessors to design, schedule, administer, and grade them. An instant test evaluation and report generation is yet another advantage of moving to the online platform. Test results can be announced instantly after the candidate has finished the test.

How Mercer | Mettl Can Help?

Mercer | Mettl’s online examination system helps in conducting high-stakes assessments on its secure examination platform preloaded with online proctoring. The tool enables companies to manage the end-to-end online assessment process. The entire process, from online registration, test creation, and center management to real-time reporting, is centered on helping clients to conduct assessments effortlessly and efficiently.


Originally published April 2 2018, Updated June 16 2020


Written by

Abhilash works with the Content Marketing team of Mercer|Mettl. He has been contributing his bit to the world of online business for some years now. Abhilash is experienced in content marketing, along with SEO. He’s fond of writing useful posts, helping people, traveling, and savoring delicacies.

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