Center Less Exams, “Test from Home” – The New Normal

Gurgaon: Schools and colleges are exploring options for center less exams due to the COVID-19 outbreak. “Test from home” is projected to become the new normal. Indian edtech company AglaSem Edutech Pvt Ltd has built an AI based cheating proof, test from home software. The product was initially implemented in its ATSE scholarship test that had enabled flood hit students to participate in the exam last year.

If students are told that they can take exams from home, they will probably be thrilled to say the least. While a handful who abhor the act of cheating would not even dream of indulging in it, the temptation to peek into a book or look for answers on the sly would be there for many. It will not only be the students, but also their parents or siblings who can give into the allure.

Thus, the whole idea of having exams at an exam center – be it school level weeklies or half yearly, 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, center 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 center 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.

Although entrance exams in India are being postponed until further notice, some exam conducting bodies are looking ahead and considering center-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 standardized 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. However, of course, trust is an essential component in the latter situation.

In the longer run, more sophisticated systems will be required to actually implement center less exams. Because 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 center 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 center less scholarship exam. The idea was to allow students to take the scholarship test from the comforts of their home using 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 center 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 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 center 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.