January 7, 2020
The concept of a proctored exam is unfamiliar to many people and yet they may end up taking one at some point in the future. Those looking to achieve a professional designation, progress in career-based levels of education, continue post-secondary educational studies, write a language test or a range of other advances in life that require testing may find out that they need to take a proctored exam.
Proctored exams are unlike the exams of your grade school or high school years, where the content was created by the school, province or teacher and they, or other school faculty, would oversee the exam-writing process. A proctored exam is required by one organization (such as a school or professional group that offers designations) and is administered by a third-party organization (such as a professional testing provider). In a proctored exam, there is no one who can answer questions about the content of the exam as the administrators are experts in conducting examinations – not in the content of the exam. So, simply explained, those requiring you to take the exam will hire a testing service provider to deliver their exam to you.
In general, proctored exams are more rigidly delivered than other types of exams, like those you experienced in high school. The ability to cheat is all but eliminated because the testing service will ensure all non-necessary devices, books and other materials are not permitted in the examination room. These controls ensure a standardized exam-taking experience regardless of whether the organization requiring the exam uses only one testing provider in one location or multiple testing providers around the world. Each testing provider must prove they are able to achieve the same level of control over the process.
As noted above, the reasons individuals may find they need to take a proctored exam are diverse. Ultimately any exam may end up being proctored, but in general terms, those that are, are the ones that have a significant outcome for the test-taker and require the exam-writing controls a testing provider can offer. This includes things like medical licensing exams, distance learning course exams, language exams suitable for immigration purposes, immigration consultant registration exams and many others.
Other times proctoring is used are when the organization or institution requiring the exam doesn’t have space or administration to deliver an exam. They may prefer the ease of having a professional exam provider deliver their tests.
Based on where you have taken your training prior to the exam and how the organization or institution is set up, you will take one of two types of proctored exams or you may be offered a choice between the two: in-person and online. Each has its own benefits and challenges.
- In-person proctored exams require test-takers to go to an appointed proctored exam centre (the testing provider) to take the exam. While the test may be completed on a computer or on paper, it is conducted in a standard in-person exam setting with a proctor (or multiple proctors) overseeing the exam in the room and/or from behind a window and video footage of test-takers may also be part of the process.
- Online proctored exams allow individuals to use special proctored exam software on their own computer enabled with a microphone and a webcam. The test-taker and their environment must be fully visible by the proctor who interacts with the test-taker through the video and microphone software at all times. Technology is key here as the webcam must not fail and there must not be any interruptions to the video feed or the test-taker will have to reschedule the exam and start over.
The registration process for a proctored exam varies depending upon how the organization or institution is set up. Some organizations have their own online system where test-takers have an account and can log in to the system to access exam schedules and locations in order to book their own exam. Other organizations will have test-takers contact them in person (by phone, email, etc.) in order to discuss and arrange their exam.
Another method is when the organization or institution makes use of scheduling tools offered by the test provider. In these cases, after logging in to their account through the organization, the test taker will click on a link to register for their exam and will be redirected to the test provider's site where there will be options for locations and times. In other cases, the test provider a test-taker uses will be based on their location and they will select where they would like to take the exam before being redirected to one of the multiple test providers' sites in order to book their exam.
In situations where the organization or institution wants a more hands-off approach in regards to the exam, they may have the test-taker go to the test provider's site directly and create an account on that site. When this is the case, the organization or institution will generally provide a code to allow the test-taker to access the test provider's booking site.
When a test-taker has completed a proctored exam, their results may be provided in a number of different ways. In the situations noted above regarding registration, if a test-taker has an account with the organization or institution, their exam results may be provided by the test-provider for posting within the individual’s account. Sometimes the exam results are mailed or provided directly after the exam by the test provider.
In order to know what to expect, it’s best to ask the organization or institution when you are contacting them to arrange exam booking.
Organizations and institutions have the ability to use different methods for exams. Proctoring is one way to ensure a standardized process through a neutral delivery method. While you may have never experienced a proctored exam before, if you are pursuing a professional designation, post-secondary program or another life or career advancement, you will likely need to take a proctored exam.