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How to Choose an Online Exam Software

Examination and Proctoring | 4 Min Read

How to Choose an Online Exam Software

Introduction

The means of assessment have expanded and diversified and are no longer dependent on archaic processes. They have eased the primary concerns of teachers, trainers, or recruiters by advancing the technology. How can we forget the long hours spent shuffling/selecting questions for academic exams or employment tests? Having these assessments proofread and evaluated for errors was a significant task, involving hiring a proctor/invigilator. Lastly, these steps were needed: finalizing a test venue, arranging a large number of test copies and evaluating them manually. Considerable logistics, time and financial resources are invested in this tiresome process. 

Companies and educational institutes are now preferring online examination software packages to make informed decisions about recruitment, campus placement, grading, and even raising capital. In this blog, we have covered all aspects of online exam software and explained the pressing need for employing technology to streamline the performance evaluation process. 


Online tests have gradually ousted the traditional examination process, as evidenced by the rising popularity of online examination software packages. Some of the typical problems in the manual examination process were delays in processing results, difficulty filtering candidates’ records, system maintenance and such. An
online examination software enables institutes to schedule, administer and control examinations via a secured environment. It utilizes the internet/intranet and/local area network (LAN) environments to conduct the process. Online exam platforms have become instrumental in streamlining assessment systems for educational institutions (primary/secondary schools, colleges, universities, training academies and institutes), and recruitment (small, mid-level businesses and large corporations), employee training, learning and development, etc.

Features to Look for in an Online Exam Software

There are a host of online exam software packages available on the market. Which one is the best online exam platform is the question. What features should one consider? There is no one-size-fits-all approach in choosing the best online exam software as it depends on the business requirement, organizational budget and approach toward learning and development.

15 Features to Look for in an Online Exam Software

Features of an online exam software

 

Simultaneously Administer a Vast Majority of Students

A proficient online examination software allows institutions to plan, schedule and manage large-scale examinations, be it unit tests, mid-terms, semester or annual exams. It has simplified an otherwise cumbersome process of conducting examinations. An online examination software enables organizations to access students in far-flung areas by sending the test links across various locations simultaneously, minimizing manual efforts – only a computer and a stable internet connection are required for candidates to take the test. All exam-related prerequisites are on the cloud, and there is no need to install other software/ third-party applications.

 

Comprehensive Question Library

A great exam platform automates otherwise manual processes by providing the option to create questionnaires seamlessly. It offers you an extensive library of skills mapped to relevant questions that teachers can select while setting the questionnaires. Alternatively, the exam platform allows teachers to upload their own questions. 

 

Different Question Types

An online exam software provides the option to choose from a host of question types. Examiners can set-up questions broadly in two brackets, i.e., knowledge and application-based questions. The knowledge-based questions contain MCQs, short answer questions, true and false, fill in the blanks, diagram type etc. Meanwhile, application-based questions cover question formats such as code snippets, case studies, database, audio and video recordings, etc.

 

Difficulty Level

A good exam tool enables examiners to allot specific weightages to different sections or questions. The faculty can decide each section’s difficulty level and assign grades accordingly. The feature’s results reflect in the report, including a section-wise analysis for individual students or groups. 

 

Easily Accessible and User-friendly

Various training institutes and recruitment agencies face significant issues in conducting mock tests/employment tests, particularly in their different assessment centers situated across multiple locations. Hence, they must use an online exam tool, easily accessed by both assessors and candidates. An assessee should not feel any difficulty registering and logging in from anywhere using a computer and access to the internet. An online exam tool must replicate and simulate real-life examination experience for those who prefer the traditional look and feel of an examination.

 

Seamless Test Creation

Academicians who are comparably new to using an online exam tool need stepwise instructions to develop and administer tests. FAQs/demos explaining each step of the test creation process should be explained on the product’s website to address such concerns, also providing the necessary customer support at each step. The online exam tool must integrate all the questions onto a single platform. Candidates should also be allowed to take the test without any difficulty through a link/login, and the test window must automatically close as soon as the test is over. The software should be robust enough to manage each applicant’s credentials, which can be updated as per requirement.

 

Virtual Proctoring

An ideal online exam software includes anti-cheating features. When a test link (often IP-locked) is sent to a candidate, it comes with a PIN (a combination of random alphabets and numerals), needed by the receiver to activate the test session. This ensures maintaining the test’s validity and the candidate’s authenticity. Auto-proctoring is yet another approach to maintain the sanctity of assessments. What separates a perfect online exam software from the rest is its ability to offer flawless proctoring using a webcam, with options such as flagging when the candidate navigates away from the screen or disabling copying options on the candidate’s screen. 

Alternatively, the tests can be manually proctored where the invigilator can see the candidates in a test window and interact with them virtually.

 

Easy Integration and Configuration with LMS

All organizations, institutions, coaching centers, irrespective of their size, use Learning Management Systems (LMSs) to conduct their assessments. It is usual to choose an online exam platform offering proctoring services that seamlessly integrate with LMSs that are compliant with Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI). In case your LMS is not LTI compliant, you can integrate the proctoring service via deep integration and REST APIs.

 

Proctoring Chrome Extension

The cloud-based Proctoring as a Service, once integrated with the LMS, offers a much-needed layer of proctoring comprising credible anti-cheating features and insightful analysis. As a Chrome extension, LTI Integration allows faculty to directly manage all settings and information within the LMS (using an original username and password credentials). They can set up exam profiles with a button’s click and enable a proctored examination without any hassle. The proctoring plugin ensures a smooth experience for the test-takers. They can take their exam online within the LMS, by merely installing the extension and logging in using their existing credentials.

 

Comprehensive Reports and In-depth Analysis

We can’t rule out the importance of reporting and analysis for trainers and teachers who manually undertake the correction of copies. Based on the calculated scores, once the test is over, both the assessor and participant should be able to see the scores at the same time. The report being generated should underscore the critical performance area through thorough question-wise feedback and a suggestive approach toward wrong answers. Data that is generated from the report helps trainers and teachers to design their learning/training modules.

 

Technical, Operational and Customer Support

Unsurprisingly, teachers may feel overwhelmed by the technicalities related to the online examination software. They are not usually very well-versed in handling operational and technical issues. It is highly likely that they would require proper software support at each stage of the implementation of online assessments. They might face difficulties during conducting the tests, especially while dealing with high-stakes and skills-based simulation tests. Such situations call for operational support, which should ideally be a live chat or phone call away. A perfect online examination software offers its customers outstanding support services and has a technical backend team always available to deliver an immaculate software experience.

 

Freemium Model for Exam Platform

Most organizations consider their budget before subscribing to any online exam platform. There is no downside to opting for a freemium online exam tool for such organizations as it helps them understand their business requirements in a much better way. An online exam platform’s customary goodness is also determined by its free trial version that allows clients to use the software without interruption unless they want to use the advanced version. Thus, they can select those features most critical to them. Most importantly, there are certain privileges available for premium users that intensifies the overall user experience positively.

 

Multi-Language Support

A great online exam software eliminates the hassle of translation, time and effort that goes into the process. It supports a wide range of languages as per your needs, making your virtual examination experience smooth. Setting-up the exam in your native language and getting relevant support makes the online exam tool stand out in the market.

 

Auto-reminders

The online exam software allows you to not only schedule the exam but also lets you send customized emails. Subsequently, the examiners can set-up auto-reminders if candidates miss the first email. The auto-reminder feature helps the administration monitor the overall examination schedule by ensuring the candidates have received the test link and/or choose a relevant slot.

 

Supports All Exam Types

The adoption of online exam software is on the rise as they support all kinds of exams. Conducting entrance exams, mind and end-term exams, quizzes and assignments, and digital courses and certifications has become a breeze for educational institutions, revolutionizing the traditional method of conducting exams.

 

No Geographical Restrictions

An online exam tool allows you to give your exam to students remotely, irrespective of your physical location, which is especially beneficial for international students. However, it is equally applicable to local students. It works well if you are studying part-time or working. You will not be required to always be on the campus.

Checklist for Choosing an Online Examination Software

The first step is to find an online examination software that best suits your needs. You can explore different options available on the market. Before settling on any vendor, you must consider these aspects:

  • Their cumulative market experience 
  • Their service fee for online exams
  • The features they offer
  • The user interface of the software
  • Their clientele base

Here’s a quick rundown on the features of an online examination software:

  • The exam platform can be used to create some of the most engaging online exams. It lets you add images, text, video and complex equations, etc. in the questionnaire.
  • Its easy-to-use features help create credible tests within minutes.
  • There is no dearth of question types to choose from: multiple-choice image questions, multiple-choice test questions, audio-video questions, fill in the blanks, etc.
  • The examination body can create a comprehensive question bank with a wide variety of questions as a part of exams, using an online exam platform. Moreover, examiners can randomize problems to keep the test content unique and relevant.
  • It also enables end-users to use tags for their question banks. They can create new tags and assign the right tags to each question for analysis.
  • Setting pass-fail rules for exams is also possible. For instance, the administration can set the time limit and the number of attempts for each question. Moreover, candidates can be allowed to review their answers before submitting them.
  • Custom styling and personal branding create a lasting impression on examinees. So, users can make the most of the white-labeling feature.

How Mercer | Mettl Can Help

Mercer | Mettl’s online examination platform is a holistic tool that encompasses the features mentioned above and significantly eases the process of conducting assessments. Online candidate screening becomes an effortless task by using a battery of available assessments on this platform. The platform is extensively useful for gauging the candidates’ skills, personalities and abilities through specialized tests such as Psychometric, Aptitude, Coding, Sales Profiler, Domain Tests, etc. When conducting academic tests/ pre-employment assessments in a highly secured environment, using a holistic online exam platform that offers the best user experience is the best measure.


All Question Formats Are Supported

Mercer | Mettl’s assessments are crafted as per the ‘Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: The Classification of Educational Goals,’ a framework widely adopted by experts for creating assessments for online examination software. Out of the six levels propagated in Bloom’s Taxonomy, our assessments are divided into two major categories:

  • Knowledge-based Questions
  • Application-based Questions

 

Knowledge-based Questions

Knowledge-based questions in our online exam tool analyze the candidate’s ability to learn and remember facts, terminologies and any other details without the need to understand the concept. There are seven categories of knowledge-based questions.

  • Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) (True or False, etc.)
  • Checkbox Question (MCA, etc.
  • Short Answer Question (one word or few words, etc.
  • Fill in the blanks Question (single or multiple blanks, etc.
  • Long answer type question (essays, equations, freehand graphs, etc.
  • Upload type question (.docx, .pdf, .png, .zip, etc.)
  • Diagram type question (flowchart, clipart, UML, etc.)

The online exam tool allows the candidates to solve simple to complex formulae writing, equations, calculus, integration, differentiation, trigonometry, matrices and more. Additionally, solving chemical notations and equations has also become hassle-free.

 

Mettl EXAMin Supports Complex Equations

 

  • Examiners can easily set diagram-based questions as the platform allows creating flowcharts, graphs or cliparts.

 

Creation of graphs

 

Application-based Questions

Application-based questions enable candidates to apply their learning to a real-life problem or situation different from the one intended at the time of learning. They can be divided into ten categories:

  • Code snippet question (C++, Java, PHP,etc.)
  • App development question (C, C#, C++, Java)
  • Database query question (Oracle, SQL etc.)
  • Frontend coding question (HTML, CSS, JS, jQuery etc.)
  • Case study question (business simulations)
  • Typing simulator (typing speed, accuracy etc.)
  • RStudio question (R Simulator etc.)
  • Mean stack question (Mongo, Express, Angular etc.)
  • Audio recording question (record candidate’s audio)
  • Video recording question (record candidate’s video)

 

The right online exam tool enables faculties to design video-based questions that allow test-takers to record their responses in the video format. The audio recording is also available.

 

video interview using exam platform

 

  • Online business case studies provide simulations of strategic problems that may be encountered by candidates at their workplace. The case study simulator presents candidates with a background scenario and reports. This question type evaluates the candidate’s approach to effective problem-solving.

 

Case study-based questions

 

Autograding Provides Real-time Results

Mercer | Mettl Examines autograding feature efficiently grades MCQs and coding simulators, without the need for human intervention. This enables providing real-time results, reducing the turnaround time using the exam platform.

When used for grade coding questions, the autograding features not only generates a specific score but also provides insights into the approach taken by test-takers, code quality and plagiarism check. The report consists of the total, section-wise and individual question-level scores.


The report also provides a holistic view of:

Time Complexity – The time taken by coders to write code.

Space Complexity– The space occupied by a code in the drive.

Code Complexity– The number of decision statements candidates used in the code.

 

Test Report


A grading logic can also be set-up at the time of test creation by allotting marks to each section, in addition to negative marking. Long answers and upload type questions that are not auto-graded are available for manual evaluation.

Click Here For Queries Concerning Our Exam Platform

Remote Proctoring Eliminates Instances of Online Cheating

Institutions question the authenticity of online exams as candidates employ multiple means to cheat on their tests. From impersonation to seeking external help and screen sharing to task switching, they employ various means to ace the exam. However, with technological advancements, a majority of cheating instances can be averted. Secure browsing does not allow the candidate to navigate out of the test window, and auto proctoring reduces malpractices significantly by flagging suspicious activities. Mettl Proctoring as a Service (MPaaS) addresses all the apprehensions associated with cheating by providing credible exam results via live, manual and auto proctoring. Mercer | Mettl offers seamless integration with proctoring technology for organizations that already have a functional LMS.

Click Here to Understand How to Maintain the Integrity of Online Exams

We believe these necessary features will enable you to choose the best online examination software.

FAQs

What is the best online testing platform?

Mercer | Mettl offers the best online testing platform that allows you to conduct online exams in a secure environment using our easy-to-use, robust and scalable platform integrated with AI-based proctoring technology.

How do I create an online exam site?

To create an online exam site, use the Mercer | Mettl platform. The first step is to set-up the exam by uploading/selecting questions, configuring results and LMS integration. The next step is to invite students by uploading bulk candidate data, selecting the time slot and sending customized emails. This is followed by authorizing and proctoring tests via three-step authentication, AI or manual proctoring. The online exam tool allows you to generate customized real-time results that can be shared in PDF or HTML formats. The reports can be customized at an individual and group level with in-depth analytics.

Can exams be done online?

Exams can be done online on a virtual exam platform using personal computers or laptops and a stable internet connection. Proctored exams require candidates to turn on their webcams. A good online exam platform allows educational institutions to seamlessly conduct low and high-stakes examinations, making the examination process time-efficient, cost-effective and scalable.

Is an online exam better than offline?

Yes, an online exam is better than an offline exam as it has automated the traditional examination processes such as creating questionnaires, invigilation, grading, result generation, etc. Online exams have helped ensure examination continuity by reducing the turnaround time and making exams anytime, anywhere possible.

Originally published April 2 2018, Updated October 23 2020

Megha Singh

Written by

A writer at heart, Megha has been in the content industry for 4 years. Starting her career from print, her journey spans across IT, legal and consulting industries. She has been associated with Mercer | Mettl as Assistant Manager, Content Marketing for 2 years.

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