Importance of education in India comes from the very roots of our history. We are a country that has produced the finest scholars in various fields, from the very beginning of recorded history. However, today, our education system is divided between the old and the new.
There are many things that can be improved, like unnecessary emphasis on rote learning and the ever-increasing gap between government institutions and private ones when it comes to quality and facilities. There is another issue that has been marred by various ills, but has managed to escape the attention of stakeholders—the way examinations are conducted in India.
We have seen several high-stakes exams impacted by allegations of cheating or proxy testing. With the global transition from print to digital permeating every aspect of our lives, exams are also witnessing the winds of change. An increasing number of institutions and companies are choosing to invest in computer-based testing (CBT), instead of a paper-and-pencil testing format. CBT is a way to eliminate human error or bias in grading answers and, hence, improves the quality and reliability of a test. It also allows for large amounts of test and student data to be securely stored and analysed, so that the quality of future tests can be improved.
In India, lakhs of students appear for most mass exams on a single day. Delivering high-stakes exams on a single day, in a single session, to a large numbers of test takers, is fraught with risks. Among other things, it compromises the integrity and validity of a testing programme. On the other hand, delivering high-stakes exams over a multi-day test administration window with a smaller test taker footprint offers greater security, enhanced quality and convenience.
In multi-day testing, exams can be conducted in a more robust environment and offer stricter security protocol and systems that protect both test sponsor organisations and test takers. More layers of safeguards are put in place to cover a wide array of other factors—from careful recruitment and management of test centre staff who provide a critical level of scrutiny, to the use of biometric tools that help ensure the right person is taking the right test at the right time.
The technology capabilities of CBT and longer testing administration windows offer test takers greater convenience. By giving them a range of dates from which to select, test takers have the best chance to recover from a disaster or other personal challenges that could interfere with just one test day. Also, advanced systems help prevent unauthorised disclosure of exam content by providing safeguards so that all test items are securely created, stored and accessed. Exams are developed and delivered with maximum security and results are processed with accurate scoring.
High-stake exams help derive important, life-changing decisions for its stakeholders, especially for test takers. While India has begun to embrace the digital wave, it is critical that licensing, certification and academic organisations rely on the expertise of providers of CBT to help ensure the integrity and reliability of their testing programmes by having zero lapses in security, granting access and flexibility to more test takers as well as delivering 100% accurate results.
The author, Soumitra Roy, is country manager, Prometric Testing Services