Traditional exams will die out within a decade in favor of online assessment, predicts a private schools’ leader. In a world that seems increasingly dominated by technology and computers, tests in India continue to be primarily paper-and pencil-based. Online testing accounts for only around 20 percent of the total testing done in India. In this article, we want to carefully examine the difference between online and pen-and-paper exams. Further, since the future seems to be strongly swaying towards online testing, we give you some tips and tricks on how to prepare and perform effectively in such exams.
If we go to see the earlier standards of having an exam in a pen and paper format, there was no choice but to have it that way since the technology was not as advanced as to carry an online test. But this is not the scene today. Today online testing is not just about taking an examination on a computer; it also involves changes in the way examinations are scheduled, designed, conducted, monitored and evaluated. The candidate downloads the test paper on a scheduled date at a particular time and answers it usually at a secure test centre. On finishing the test, the candidate is asked if he is ready to end the test and the system (and technology) takes care of the rest.
Online testing has many advantages and is the most prevalent testing method in most developed countries. There is increased security at test centres where photo identity checks and digital signatures are required.
To minimise cheating, there are CCTVs at the centre, live proctoring and restriction on the use of electrical devices. Test owners also benefit from increased security in the delivery of the exam — test papers are not printed and physically delivered but are digitally encrypted and uploaded to test centres on the day of the exam. This is the reason why an increased number of examinations have now started to conduct their tests online.
Difference Between Online and Pen and Paper Exams
|Pen & Paper Test||Online Test or Computer Based Test|
|In case of Paper pencil test, the candidate is provided with a Question Booklet and an OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) Answer Sheet. Answers are to be marked on the Answer Sheet.||In Online Testing, the candidate sits in front of a computer and the questions are presented on the computer monitor and the candidate submits the answers through the use of keyboard or mouse.|
|The candidate has to choose the correct option and darken the oval completely corresponding to (1), (2), (3) and (4) against the relevant question number. For this, he has to use only HB Pencil. Here, there is a chance that the students may lose marks because of the inappropriate shading of the answers in the OMR sheets.||In case of Online Testing, students will be expected to simply click the appropriate option and then click another button to move to the next question.|
|If the candidate has to change any answer, he has to erase completely the one already marked and darken the fresh oval with an HB pencil. This takes a lot of time and gives rise to the possibility of mutilation of the answer sheet.||In case, a candidate wants to change the answer, later on, he can come back to that question and click on a different option|
|In the case of paper pencil test, it is easier to cross the options in the question booklet. Also, a candidate can underline or circle the significant information in the question booklet||Here the candidate would be denied such flexibility in case of Online Testing. There are some other issues with which a candidate taking a computer based test might have to grapple with.|
|In a paper pencil test, there is no question of a technical error occurring. The questions are in front of a student for them to solve and mark||There are chances that a technical failure may occur in case of a computer based test. In that scenario, he may be required to attempt the test again.|
Even though it has many advantages, for some students, taking an online exam is a new and somewhat bewildering experience. They don’t know what to expect and aren’t certain of the skills and strategies that will enable them to perform at their best. In either way of appearing for a test, be it pen and paper or online test, a student would have to put in the same level of preparation. In order to prepare for an online test, a student should take care of the points below:
Before the Online Exam: Prepare
- Read and understand the test guidelines: How much time will you have to complete the test? Can you take the test at home, or must you take the exam in a specific location (e.g., a test center as is usually the case with competitive exams in India)? Are there any other important, “need to know” factors outlined by the organization conducting the exam
- Know the test format: What kinds of questions will the exam have —multiple-choice, fill-in, short answer, essay? For example, CAT has two distinct types of questions, with different marking schemes as well
- Test yourself: If you can get access to a practice exam available to you, take it! This is where ExamVictor can help, with its array of online mock tests that are exactly like the real thing, and work smoothly on a tablet, mobile or laptop
- Plan your time: As you test yourself, limit your time to that which will be allotted for the actual test, and decide how long you will spend on each question
- Carve out a quiet test-taking spot with minimal distractions: This is super important for all the mock tests you take. Turn off all notifications from IM, your phone, your email, and elsewhere (or, set them to silent). Shut off the TV and radio. Let your roommates or family know that you’ll be taking a test, so that they’re less likely to interrupt you during that time
- Determine when you will take the test: The body has circadian natural circadian rythms, What this means for you is that you may or may not be at your sharpest at the time of the exam. Some exams are in the morning, some in the afternoon. You need to train yourself to ensure you are at your brightest and sharpest when the exam is to be held. So make sure to do all your mock tests at the same time slot as the actual exam
- Gather all that you’ll need to take the test: You will probably need ID documents, pens, pencils, water and other tools with you, be sure that they’re set to go
During the Online Exam: Focus
- Keep an eye on the clock: You may want to set an alarm to notify you when you have limited time (e.g., 10 minutes) remaining in your testing period
- Don’t leave the test page!: In fact, don’t attempt to do anything else other than the exam. And that means no trying to open a Google tab or sneak in a quick peek at Facebook! Most modern testing software are very sophisticated and have a lot of security features built in. Among other things, they take screenshots of your screen at random intervals, and the webcam is usually on and recording you giving the test. Further, the entire system may lock down and end your test, as trying to do anything else other than the exam paper is considered cheating
- Technical problems? Don’t panic: Contact the testing center in-charge immediately, detailing the exact problem that occurred and any error messages you might have received. If you can take a screen shot, that is helpful as well
- Check your work before you submit it: Ensure that every answer is complete and appears as you intended. Review the accuracy of your answers
- Click submit: You should only need to do so once, but if you have a problem, try once more. If you still have a problem submitting the test, let your instructor know immediately
After the Online Exam: Review
- Assess your own: How do you believe you did? What questions did you find confusing? Did you have to skip anything? Return to your notes and readings, and see if you can find the answers to the questions that challenged you
- Check your grade: In some cases, you may be able to learn your grade immediately. However, exams with a longer schedule take longer for to grade, so allow some time to find out your score
We hope some of these strategies are useful for you. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!