When I was in school, if you told me I could take exams from home, I would have been thrilled, to say the least. Of course, being the child of morally upright parents who could not even dream of doing anything “wrong”, cheating even from home was out of question for me. But I am sure that temptation would be present, and not only students, but their parents or siblings would also fall into it.
The whole idea of having exams at an exam centre — be it school-level weeklies or half yearlies, or board exams, or entrance exams — is to monitor the test-takers. Then there is the whole much needed rigmarole of having different question papers, sealing them, sealing answer sheets, having invigilators, centre officers, state monitoring officers for exams, and so on. However tedious it is, it is normal.
However, today we are all forced to rethink the whole exam system. We are slowly trying to accept that centre-less exams and tests from home could be the new normal. The global pandemic struck at a time when most of the annual exams were going on, and all entrance exams were lined up. As of now most boards have cancelled their exams, some have decided to pass students without any exams.
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Although entrance exams in India are being postponed until further notice, some exam conducting bodies are looking ahead and considering centre-less exams and tests-from-home models.
ETS has already launched the take-at-home option for the GRE exam, the Graduate Record Examinations which is the standardised test route for many institutions across USA and Canada, taken by students from all across the world. A few schools in India gave students a similar “trust-based test” where parents were messaged the question paper, students took the test under the supervision of parents, and parents sent the answers via email/sms to the school.
Of course, trust is an essential component in the latter situation. In the longer run, more sophisticated systems will be required to actually implement centre-less exams. However, for assessments where marks will decide the future course of admission or eligibility, trust will not be enough.
In this regard, Gurgaon-based edtech company AglaSem Edutech Pvt Ltd has already built and implemented a system that not only enables testing agencies to conduct centre-less exams, but also ensure it is cheating-proof.
An elaborate software that uses artificial intelligence, image proctoring, facial recognition, audio analysis, assessment of facial muscles and other factors, determines the actions and environment of the test-takers.
Ironically, Aglasem had built the product for their own project, ATSE scholarship test, which they launched as India’s first centre-less scholarship exam. The idea was to allow students to take the scholarship test from the comforts of their home using a PC or mobile. The technology proved extremely useful in the first year itself when Mumbai floods forced students indoors and unable to take other tests because of the situation – but they could appear in ATSE, the centre-less scholarship test.
Two editions of the test are already done and registrations for the third edition, ATSE 2020 have just been opened for class 5th to 12th students at atse.aglasem.com with scholarships worth 15 lakh.
Today, the future of lakhs of students in different classes, admission routes is uncertain and at the mercy of the global pandemic. Agencies across the world have shifted most of their admission and assessment process online and from home – even board exam paper checking in Indian states is being given to teachers from home. However the only roadblock that remains is conducting tests from home.
As edtech companies bring robust technology and infrastructure to support tests from home and centre-less exams to the table, schools, colleges and other institutions will have to speed up their analysis of the situation and start considering these options. As even though marks don’t matter, they do matter.
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