The Digital Shift: On-Screen Exams
In recent years, the education sector has witnessed a significant transformation in the way exams are carried out. With the rapid advancement of technology, it is highly likely that paper-based exams will be completely replaced by on-screen exams in the near future.
How might on-screen exams benefit candidates?
The clearest benefit for candidates is the flexibility they offer, especially for those living in remote areas or facing physical limitations. Candidates will have the convenience of taking exams in a familiar and comfortable environment, which may help reduce anxiety and improve overall performance.
On-screen exams ensure a level playing field for all candidates, regardless of their educational background. This means that everyone is assessed under the same conditions, promoting fairness and equality. Moreover, on-screen exams offer various accommodations for candidates with specific needs, such as adjustments for screen reading, font size changes, and other sensory considerations.
What are the challenges of on-screen exams?
One of the main concerns is the potential for cheating. Unlike traditional exams where invigilators can monitor candidates closely, on-screen exams provide more opportunities for dishonest behaviour. There are ways to combat this with various proctoring methods, such as live video monitoring, AI-based plagiarism detection, and keystroke analysis.
Another challenge is the lack of a controlled testing environment. In traditional exams, candidates are seated in a designated area with minimal distractions. However, in on-screen exams, candidates may face various distractions at home, such as noise, family members, or other responsibilities.
Technical issues can also pose a significant challenge. Internet connectivity problems, device malfunctions, or software glitches can disrupt the exam-taking process and cause unnecessary stress for candidates.
When is this change likely to happen?
Moving from paper-based to on-screen exams is already underway and could be introduced in the UK as early as 2026. The transition holds great potential for enhancing the examination process, but careful planning and consideration of these factors are crucial for its successful implementation.