How Do Proctored Online Exams Work?


If you are a student reading this, please share it with your teachers or school administration. As you read this article about how online proctored exams work, you will realize it was written for your teachers and school administration. However, if you work in a school, an educational institution, or own a tuition center, you’ve come to the right place.

We attempted to depict the overall appearance of the online proctored exams. It also informs you of your responsibilities as an exam authority and how to prepare your examinees for online proctored exams.

What are Proctored Online Exams?

Proctored exams are timed exams that you take while proctoring software monitors your computer’s desktop as well as webcam video and audio. The data collected by the proctoring software is sent to a proctoring service for analysis. Your course and enrollment track may or may not require proctored exams.

So, in essence, an online proctored exam is the same as any other exam, except that it is supported by an online infrastructure. Most importantly, invigilation is required to maintain the exam room’s sanctity.

If you want to learn more about proctoring online, check out our in-depth article on what is a proctor.

How Does Online Proctored Exam Software Work?

Let’s take a look at how online proctored exams work now that we know what they are.

You’ll notice the word “software” in the headline. Any online proctoring system relies on dependable, robust, and dynamic software.

Typically, a cloud-based system powers the entire infrastructure. Although some older organizations still rely on legacy systems, it’s difficult to imagine how online proctoring will function without a cloud-based system, given the global rise of e-learning.

The Candidate’s Authentication

Online proctoring, like offline proctoring, begins with authentication. The online proctoring software verifies the authenticity of the examinee and eliminates suspicious behavior during the exam.

The software ensures that the candidate is sharing a screen with video and audio recording even before the exam begins. Impersonation is also unlikely. Typically, the online proctoring system requires students to present their photo IDs at the start of each test. The test begins only after the proctors have authenticated their identities.

Candidate monitoring in real time

The following step is to monitor candidates while they take the exam. Typically, an algorithm continuously monitors candidates in order to flag any suspicious cases. For example, our own software Dr. Proctor is powered by an AI-algorithm that can detect cases such as when a candidate does not appear on the screen, when a mobile phone is detected, or even unusual movement of the eye or any additional person in the room.

Data Storage and Analysis

The audio and video recording data from the exams are stored on the cloud, despite the fact that the flag is raised in real time. So, once the exams are finished, you or your team can go over the cases again.

Can your candidates cheat on an online examination?

You are not the first person to ask this question. In fact, according to our sales team, this is the most frequently asked question.

What if your candidate looks up an answer on the internet? What if they have an eBook or other material open on the screen? What if they have a cell phone nearby? Or a person in the exam room next to the candidate?

Before we answer your question, we must assure you that an online exam will not result in any of the above.

For example, our proctoring software disables the web search function. At the same time, the screen sharing feature allows your invigilator to keep a constant eye on the exam.

Even if you miss it, all recordings are archived online for you to review.

Students are unlikely to be able to cheat using digital and remote proctoring services because they cannot circumvent the security framework.

Online Proctored Exam DOs and DON’Ts

This section is equally beneficial to you and your candidates.

If you are administering an exam to your students, you must instruct them to use personal computers or laptops with recommended specifications. You should also request that they use a location with good internet connectivity.

Here are some dos and don’ts for your students that you should go over with them before the exam:

  • A candidate must have a webcam and microphone when taking an exam.
  • It is also suggested that students sit with a plain background.
  • Make sure the room has adequate lighting.
  • The room should be as silent as possible.
  • Ensure that you are alone in the room during the exam.
  • Keep a sufficient number of sheets on hand before the examination begins.

Also, here are some things your candidates should avoid:

  • As your exam screen window will be proctored for the duration of the exam, instruct your students not to navigate from it. If any suspicious activity is detected during the exam, it will be canceled.
  • Make it clear to your candidates that they are not permitted to speak to anyone during your exam.
  • Additionally, your candidates are not permitted to use any digital device during the exam, including mobile phones or Bluetooth speakers. If the same thing happens again, it will be considered malpractice.
  • Ask your students not to use multiple devices at the same time, as the system may terminate the exam for that candidate if it detects this.
  • Before the exam begins, a test screen appears. It is critical that candidates do not leave the test screen.

During this pandemic, we have seen a significant shift in our educational system. Students can now access a variety of online learning options thanks to the internet and other cutting-edge technologies. This has also resulted in mock tests being given at home via the internet. They are not required to be physically present in the classrooms in order to receive a quality education.

As a result, in this new era of online education, educational institutes and corporate companies that administer exams have begun to use exceptional online exam software such as Mercer | Mettl to ensure safety and quality throughout the examination process.