e-Testing

What is e-testing

Put simply an e-test is an assessment presented to the candidate on screen. A more detailed definition is:

“An e-test is any test that replicates or replaces paper based tests with a computer screen, also referred to an on-screen tests.

On-screen tests are the transfer of paper tests to computer with little or no change to their appearance on paper. Other on-screen tests incorporate variations that could not be easily replicated on paper, such as video or audio clips, and animated quizzes.

Further possibilities for e-testing include the use of full ICT interactivity. This often uses ‘virtual situations’ requiring the candidate to process information to arrive at the required solution.”
(toolkit.efutures.org (2010))

Benefits

Benefits to centres

The most obvious benefits associated with e-testing are reduced paper usage and less administration time. This is because the distribution process is now delivered online either through real time internet access or on-screen via a server.

There are also cost savings related to not having to print and publish paper based tests. The key benefits of e-testing to centres include the test data being sent immediately to the awarding organisation or examiner, or results given immediately via an automated marking system. Other benefits include:

  • Reduced staff administration time;
  • Greater efficiency;
  • Reduced lead time in receiving and returning exams; and
  • Flexibility of location and test times, leading to greater learner engagement, with a positive impact on access-widening policies.

Benefits to learners

Learners can also benefit from the flexibility offered by e-testing:

  • Times and locations of tests can be aligned with work and study patterns;
  • Immediacy of results and feedback allows instant progress reports;
  • Re-sits of exams can be taken straight away, if necessary; and
  • Increased opportunity to develop IT skills.

Roles and Responsibilities

Key areas of responsibility within e-testing and e-portfolio contexts will vary considerably and it should be emphasised that these are roles, not necessarily job titles. Schools will need to consider what approach is most suited to the type and scale of e-assessment they propose to implement (e-testing and/or e-portfolios).

Recommendations relate to staff available to the centre for e-assessment purposes; it is not assumed that any or all of them will necessarily be involved or employed full-time in an e-assessment role. In many instances these roles may form part of a number of responsibilities.

  • Senior Management – responsibility for developing and supporting an e-assessment strategy for the school.
  • Co-ordination / Operational Management – responsibility for implementation of the e-assessment strategy and policies, and accountability for the e-assessment process.
  • e-Testing Administration - responsibility for operational systems & processes.
  • Technical Support – responsibility for the technology – whether in-house or via a third party.
  • Working with the Learner – responsibility for maximising the potential for success through the e-assessment process.
  • Invigilating e-Tests

The specific allocation of responsibilities may vary according to the school setup, and this should be taken into account when looking both at processes and training needs.

Guidelines

This section covers recommendations and guidance for the different stages of the e-testing process. There are a number of principles that need to be followed to make sure that the general environment is suitable for conducting e-testing. However, it is not assumed that the e-testing environment is a dedicated test centre. The recommendations apply to any location where e-testing sessions are held.

Centres should refer to any specific guidelines produced by awarding bodies by whom they are approved (or intend to become approved) to offer e-testing, as well as the recommendations referred to below.

Preparing an e-test

Centres should ensure that they have the relevant information about hardware, software and communication requirements from the awarding body in advance of the e-test session.

These processes include:

  • Registering with an awarding body;
  • e-test location and equipment preparation;
  • Materials preparation;
  • Preparing learners for e-testing; and
  • Running a practice e-test session.

The preparation of the room and equipment prior to the e-testing session should be carried out well before candidates are due to arrive. It is essential that staff can answer questions around navigation and types of question used within e-tests, in order to help prepare candidates for taking a formal e-test.

Running an e-test

Centres must comply with health and safety requirements, and the requirements of the regulatory authorities, awarding bodies and e-test suppliers, and safeguard the confidentiality of any personal data including information relating to health and disability. Procedures for running and invigilating a ‘live’ e-test session that include:

  • Final checks relating to e-test location, equipment and materials;
  • Authentication/confidentiality;
  • Final checks relating to candidates;
  • Planned and unplanned breaks;
  • Invigilating the e-test session;
  • General rules;
  • Candidate support;
  • Emergencies, technical failures and irregularities; and
  • Concluding the e-test session.

After an e-test

As the procedures to be followed following the e-test will vary according to the specific e-test and awarding body concerned, there are no accompanying checklists. Centres may wish to develop documentation that reflects this aspect of the process. The guidance may relate to:

  • Transmitting candidate details and responses;
  • Storing response files at centres;
  • Feedback to candidates; and
  • Awarding body certification.