Although the dynamic shift to online testing had its fair share of technical problems, the CBT format continued to gain prominence among education stakeholders. The shift picked momentum when National Testing Agency (NTA) was formed in 2017 and started conducting big-ticket entrance examinations including UGC/CSIR NET, TET, and JEE in CBT mode.
Talking to Education Times, Sanjiv Kumar, Senior Manager for Test Development Solutions at Prometric, which conducted the online CAT says CBT has come a long way from the time that we successfully transitioned a massive MBA admission test that was conducted in pen-paper format. “Most of the high-stake tests are now in CBT format. The key is to deliver an optimized, intuitive, easily navigable interface, and a consistent display of test content. The fulfilment of these factors has cemented the strong footprint of CBT,” says Kumar.
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The credibility of CBT has increased in the last two years. “During the pandemic, accelerated and wide adoption of CBT mode in education, admission, recruitment and certification was witnessed. The safe experience, as well as the increased accessibility it offered to candidates, gave confidence to the test sponsors to opt for CBT.”
Discussing the benefits of online proctored exams, Manish Mohta, founder of online exam solution provider firm, Learning Spiral says that internet-delivered tests ease the process for candidates. “Many of our clients have renewed the option for proctored examinations for admissions. Several institutes have opted for CBT to conduct assessment tests,” says Mohta.
“Many companies that adopted CBT saw their revenues plummet, as they saved their expenditure on renting physical centres, associated logistics, and the planning required for conducting the offline tests. The CBTs across multiple cities/labs get eliminated,” adds Mohta.
All India Management Association (AIMA) used to conduct the Management Aptitude Test (MAT) entrance exam offline mode until 2019. Remote proctored internet-based tests were introduced during the Covid 19 lockdown.
Rekha Sethi, AIMA director general, says, “In the last two years, AIMA saw a wide acceptance of CBT and Remote Proctored tests, due to increased convenience and popularity. The trend is likely to be followed and sustained even the post-pandemic phase.”
Coping with the challenges
The education sector is undergoing a massive transition, but CBT has its own set of challenges. Nirpeksh Kumbhat, CEO, SkillEnable says, “To combat challenges, CBT will have to include questions including higher-order thinking, and performance-based skills.”
A general benchmark is followed for setting the question papers which can be a problem in future. “The pattern of questions to be designed for the maths must be different from English language or essay writing question paper. A well-researched strategy to frame the right set of questions will help in overcoming the challenge,” adds Kumbhat.
No technology is fully fool-proof, however, there are ways to eliminate cheating instances by adopting better practices and processes. “AIMA avoids such lapses with the help of dynamic IP, IP tracking, deploying network intrusion detection systems throughout the testing procedures. The mechanism has eliminated possibilities of paper leak, malfunctions to near zero,” says Sethi.
Narrating the question paper safety aspects of proctored online examination, Mohta told that in this mode of exam, the question bank is located in the cloud which reduces the risk of question item exposure/leakage. He adds, “This year, we conducted the NIFT entrance examination with the help of two-device proctoring method, wherein the candidate uses two devices. Two mobiles were used, one in the front and the second at the rear to have their video/pictures captured in real time. The technology minimises the possibility of cheating malpractices, proxy attendance and the same was appreciated and well accepted by institutes.”