The future of invigilation

Online exam proctoring is gaining further momentum, catalysed by the last year


Nisthula Nagarajan

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Published: Wed 25 Aug 2021, 12:00 AM

As we gear up for a new academic year, students are faced with classes that are a combination of in-person and virtual learning. They are offering the best of both worlds through this hybrid arrangement while universities were forced to upgrade and update themselves to ensure that the quality of education remained the same regardless of the method of delivery.

One of the facets of education that have changed forever is how examinations are conducted globally. Most are familiar with the age-old method of marking attendance and authenticating students, arriving at the assigned classroom for the exam and sitting at desks that are spaced evenly to prevent cheating between students. Once this entire process moved online, it was a whole different story. In-person exams became impossible due to safety and social distancing concerns, students embarked on online tests that were either multiple choice, typed out answers or written and scanned papers depending on the subject matter. Some universities conducted video conferences with invigilators virtually monitoring students. Even with all the progress in technology, many educational institutions are slow on the uptake.

There are a few trends towards online invigilation that are being observed. According to Mercer | mettl, there are a few ways that exams can be invigilated online. They are:

Automated monitoring

This helps supervise exams without human intervention. It is an advanced form of remote invigilation that ensures minimal error and 95 per cent accuracy in predicting distractions or suspicious activities.

Live monitoring

This is like a real-life exam setting where an authorised person invigilates the exam remotely through video similar to an actual classroom setting. Students are monitored in real-time and intervened if anything suspicious is observed.

Professional record and review monitoring

The screen share and audio-video feeds of the examinees are recorded throughout the test. An authorised person reviews the recorded video later and scans the recordings for suspicious activities.

Mercer | mettl also outlines several advantages of online invigilation as well:

Cover more bases

Needless to say, by handling hundreds of data points and a vast number of students at any given time, online exams meet large-scale requirements like country-wide tests, etc. from stringent tracking and real-time monitoring to swift exam evaluation. Online exams also remove geographic barriers and accommodate many applicants simultaneously.

Erase the errors

AI does its work more coherently by sharing accurate predictions, measurable performance and data-backed insights. It doesn’t get tired or make mistakes while delivering on the responsibilities it undertakes.

Eradicate tab switching

With a limited navigation control feature, students’ test screens get locked once they start the exam. This prevents them from opening new browser tabs/windows and blocks functions such as copying/pasting. It also stops access to external devices, such as hard drives.

Customisable settings

At a fundamental level, like for quizzes, one can record the exam screen in real-time while the AI analyses students’ actions. For semester exams, the test environment can more stringent.


Every violation flag is backed by data and recorded to be viewed by an authorised person. The credibility of the information generated is valid, authentic and bias-free.


Eliminate the resource-intensive task of finding and setting up physical exam centres, reducing the expenses incurred in setting up exam-related infrastructure. The online approach also does away with the expense of human invigilators.

Taher Kapasi, Regional Education Manager at the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), has been at the forefront of witnessing this change, “The future of education is going to be one to watch, with the enhancements in technology and changing expectations of future learners; educators will need to find ways to constantly keep their offering relevant and futureproof. Covid-19 created a demand for a variety of remotely invigilated exams and supporting technologies. Concepts such as open book exams, collaborative testing and assessed grades are gaining momentum. Proctoring or remote exam invigilation as we know it, are no longer a distant thought or restricted to a scheduled time and physical exam centre anymore. Today, educators and students are increasingly adopting virtual platforms to remotely invigilate and take the examinations from home resulting in modernising the way of conducting assessments. The education industry has and will continue making strides in capitalising on this opportunity while enhancing the student experience and confidence with these newer ways of doing exams. What remains constant here is the need to align exam rigour and security with a positive student experience making remote invigilation an opportunity widely accepted in the future.”

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