OWL Blog

5 Ways to Secure eAssessments

5 Ways to Secure eAssessments

  Posted by:
  The OWL Training Team


(Jan-2019) Whether it’s college entrance, professional certification, employment screening or high school graduation, the stakes have never been higher for test takers. Unfortunately, that means the motivation to cheat is also stronger than ever. Migrating examinations to an online solution offers many opportunities to improve and redefine your assessments. Enhancements like process improvement, automation efficiencies, data gathering, retention and analysis. But without exam security all of these benefits fall by the wayside.

Although the method for test delivery has changed the old tricks prevail. Looking at your neighbor’s paper is now sharing a screen; getting an advanced copy of an exam paper is now finding a digital download; and impersonating your buddy at the test center has become sharing usernames and passwords. But not all the news is grim because online examinations not only offer more features and efficiencies but they also provide more ways to identify and prevent fraud.

OWL Test Software Managing Member, Chris Dalessandri, addressed this topic when he spoke at the Examinations Network Conference, in Adelaide South Australia a few months ago. Below, is a summary of Chris’s presentation: Explore Secure Computerized Exam Management with the OWL Test Management System. In his presentation, Chris described a multi-pronged approach to assessment security. Specifically, he identified five areas where you can to leverage automation to increase exam security. Below is a list of measures he suggested.

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1 | Device Security

Prevent the test taker from using outside sources during the exam. Stop the test taker from making copies or recording the exam.

  • A browser-based test interface should launch in a window that disables right clicking, removes browser buttons and menus.
  • Secure test delivery through a utility like Safe Exam Browser, which uses a kiosk mode to secure the test taker's computer and launch the SEB browser and run the testing application.
  • Require test takers to boot their device from a USB Drive. With this approach the user’s device is limited to only running your test until completion.

2 | Secure User Authentication

Is the person taking the exam who they claim to be?

  • Use Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) to allow users to access the exam management system through a single sign on. This means that the test taker’s credential authentication (username and password) can be managed by the established system you already trust.
  • Register participants with single use Self-Registration Codes.
  • Use Webcam Monitoring to confirm the test taker’s physical identity. You can require a capture of the test taker’s identification and of their portrait prior to the start of testing.


3 | Proctor Security

Secure the test session in real-time.


4 | Secure Exam Delivery

Make a big impact on security for a small cost.

  • Include Online Directions Items that let test takers know integrity is important to you. Include phrases like: 'proprietary and confidential', or 'capturing or reproducing this content is strictly prohibited'.
  • Use a terms of use or authenticity agreement to require that the test taker confirm their understanding of your policies. This can be combined with an item that requires the examinee to input their initials or name as an electronic signature.
  • Present each test taker the questions in a random order. Or consider creating variations of your test sections or individual items and use Randomization Features to pick from a set.
  • Consider using timers where appropriate to limit the amount of time the test session is open.

5 | Develop Secure Content

Stop your testing from becoming stale or predictable.

  • Deliver content that is relevant and current.
  • Real-world tasks are one of the best ways to increase exam security. Tasks where the examinee must speak, edit a file, or upload a project make cheating much more difficult.
  • Use a Wide Variety of Online Item Types and Tasks. Multiple choice items have their place but Constructed Response Items or such as essays or spoken tasks reveal examinees knowledge of a subject more completely.



Photo by Liam Tucker on Unsplash