Certification exam administration and proctoring is a crucial component of the professional credentialing process.  Certification exams are expensive to develop well, so an organization wants to protect that investment by delivering the exam with appropriate security so that items are not stolen.  Moreover, there is an obvious incentive for candidates to cheat.  So, a certification body needs appropriate processes in place to deliver the certification exams.  Here are some tips

1. Determine the best approach for certification exam administration and proctoring

Here are a few of the considerations to take into account.

Cohorts vs Continuous

Do you have cohorts, where events make more sense, or do you need continuous?  For example, if the test is tied to university training programs that graduate candidates in December and May each year, that affects your need for delivery.  Alternatively, some certifications are not tied to such training; you might have to only show work experience.  In those cases, candidates are ready to take the test continuously throughout the year.

Paper vs Computer

Does it make more sense to deliver the test on paper or on computer?  This used to be a cost issue, but now the cost of computerized delivery, especially with online proctoring at home, has dropped significantly while saving so much time for candidates.  Also, some exam types like clinical simulations can only be delivered on computers.

Test centers vs Online proctored vs events

Some types of tests require events, such as a clinical assessment in an actual clinic with standardized patients.  Some tests can be taken anywhere.  Exam events can also coincide with other events; perhaps you have online delivery through the year but deliver a paper version of the test at your annual conference, for convenience.

ansi accreditation certification exam candidates

Geographic dispersion

If your exam is for a small US state or a small country, it might be easy to require exams in a test center, because you can easily set up only one or two test centers to cover the geography.  Some certifications are international, and need to deliver on-demand throughout the year; those are a great fit for online.

Security level needs

If your test has extremely high stakes, there is extremely high incentive to cheat.  An entry-level certification on WordPress is different than a medical licensure exam.  The latter is a better fit for test centers, while the former might be fine with online proctoring on-demand.

2. Evaluate remote proctoring options

If you choose to explore this approach, here are three main types to evaluate.

A. AI only

AI only proctoring means that there are no humans.  The examinee is recorded on video, and AI algorithms flag potential issues, such as if they leave their seat, then notify an administrator (usually a professor) of students with a high number of flags.  This approach is usually not relevant for certifications or other credentialing exams, it is more for low-stakes exams like a Psychology 101 Midterm at your local university.  The vendors for this approach are interested in large-scale projects, such as proctoring all midterms and finals at a university, perhaps hundreds of thousands of exams per year.

B. Record and Review

Record and review proctoring means that the examinee is recorded on video, but that video is watched by a real human and flagged if they think there is cheating, theft, or other issues.  This is much higher quality, and higher price, but has one major flaw that might be concerning to certification tests: if someone steals your test by taking pictures, you won’t find out until tomorrow.  But at least you know who it was and you are certain of what happened, with a video proof.  Perhaps useful for microcredentials or recertification exams.

C. Live Online Proctoring

Live online proctoring (LOP), or what I call “live human proctoring” (because some AI proctoring is also “live” in real time!) means that there is a professional human proctor on the other side of the video from the examinee.  They check the examinee in, confirm their identity, scan the room, provide instructions, and actually watch them take the test.  Some providers like MonitorEDU even have the examinee make a second video stream on their phone, which is placed on a bookshelf or similar spot to see the entire room through the test.  Certainly, this approach is a very good fit with certification exams and other credentialing.  You protect the test content as well as the validity of that individual’s score; that is not possible with the other two approaches.

We have also prepared a list of the best online proctoring software platforms for your use.

3. Determine other technology, psychometric, and operational needs

Next, your organization should establish the other needs for your exams.  Do you require special item types?  Perhaps adaptive testing or linear on the fly testingPsychometric consulting services?  Specific operational controls such as exam time/date windows or navigation limits?  Registration and payment portal?  Write all these up so that you can use the list to shop for a provider.

4. Find an integrated provider for certification exam administration

test development cycle fasttest

Most providers of remote proctoring are just that: remote proctoring.  They do not have a professional platform to manage item banks, schedule examinees, deliver tests, create custom score reports, and analyze psychometrics.  Some do not even integrate with such platforms, and only integrate with learning management systems like Moodle, seeing as their entire target market is only low-stakes university exams.  So if you are seeking a vendor for certification testing or other credentialing, the list of potential vendors is smaller.

Our flagship platform, FastTest, works with 6 different remote proctoring providers and can easily integrate with more.  It also supports paper exams, self-hosted events, and testing centers.

5. Establish the new process

Once you have selected a vendor, work with them to establish the new process for delivering your certification exams with remote proctoring.  Remember, this goes FAR beyond exam day!

  • Candidate Handbook
  • Registration and scheduling
  • Candidate training and practice tests
  • Exam delivery (including verification, environmental rules, materials allowed, break policy, etc.)
  • Test security plan:  What do you do if someone is caught taking pictures of the exam with their phone, or the other potential events?

Ready to start?

Assessment Systems Corporation is one of the world leaders in this endeavor.  Contact us to get a free account in our platform and experience the examinee process, or to receive a demonstration from one of our experts.

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Nathan Thompson, PhD

Nathan Thompson earned his PhD in Psychometrics from the University of Minnesota, with a focus on computerized adaptive testing. His undergraduate degree was from Luther College with a triple major of Mathematics, Psychology, and Latin. He is primarily interested in the use of AI and software automation to augment and replace the work done by psychometricians, which has provided extensive experience in software design and programming. Dr. Thompson has published over 100 journal articles and conference presentations, but his favorite remains https://scholarworks.umass.edu/pare/vol16/iss1/1/ .
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