Education, from primary to vocational training, relies on effective assessments to gauge knowledge imparted to learners. Assessments have traditionally been essential for evaluation, focusing on accuracy and encouraging better performance. However, the mode of taking these assessments has shifted to the computer-based test.
In the digital age, traditional pen-and-paper tests are giving way to innovative computer-assisted assessments. Unlike their resource-intensive predecessors, these tests leverage technology, eliminating logistical hassles like examination halls, printed papers, and travel.
Online assessments using digital tools benefit both invigilators and students, who are increasingly embracing digital technologies. This blog will delve into the details of computer-based assessments and their advantages over traditional methods.
What is Computer-Based Test or CBT?
The demand for computer-based examinations has significantly risen, particularly in response to post-pandemic challenges impacting the education sector. The global health crisis has exposed vulnerabilities within academia, emphasising the need for a robust framework to withstand disruptions.
Computer-based tests (CBT) address these concerns by streamlining the examination process, alleviating administrative burdens, and minimising time and effort spent on traditional methods such as setting up physical examination centres and printing and distributing paper exams.
What is the full form of CBT?
CBT stands for Computer-based tests.
What is Computer-based Exam?
CBT utilises computer technology, where candidates respond to questions displayed on a monitor using a keyboard or mouse. The candidate’s computer is referred to as the client computer, while the server computer delivers the exam over an intranet/internet connection, creating a client-server environment.
Computer-based examination, with its roots dating back to the 1970s, has become the preferred alternative to traditional paper-and-pencil tests, offering efficiency in educational assessments, certifications, and pre-employment tests.
One of the most common computer-based test today is the IELTS computer-based test. You can also get exposure to IELTS CBT through the IELTS computer-based practice test on the official website.
Difference between Online Test and Computer-Based Test
It’s important to note a distinction between “online exams” and “computer-based exams,” though the terms are often used interchangeably.
An online exam is a subset of the CBT examination and is conducted exclusively over the Internet. In contrast, CBT encompasses a broader scope, referring to tests administered using computers, whether connected to the internet or not.
CBT results may be transferred online to a web server or stored locally on the computer’s hard disk, offering flexibility in post-exam procedures.
Advantages of Using Computer-Based Test
Computer-based testing proves highly effective for various academic assessments, certification exams, and pre-employment screenings where examinations play a pivotal role in applicant evaluation.
Corporations can leverage these tests to chart career progression paths for employees, while learning and development departments can identify strengths and weaknesses, designing tailored training programs for comprehensive workforce development.
The transition to computer-based exams has streamlined the entire examination process, offering numerous benefits to both candidates and administrators:
Computer-based tests offer the flexibility of year-round administration, enabling students to choose their preferred time and location for exams. This eliminates the need for travel, making it accessible for candidates in remote areas. The test window typically spans 1-3 weeks, allowing aspirants to select a convenient time slot.
Computer Adaptive Testing
This form of CBT adjusts the difficulty level based on the examinee’s answers, providing a more accurate assessment of their abilities. For instance, if a test-taker answers a question correctly, the subsequent question becomes slightly more challenging, representing a significant advancement in assessment technology.
Computer-based tests incorporate various security features to maintain the integrity of the assessment process. Online proctoring and additional security measures make CBT a highly secure mode of examination.
Amid global norms of social distancing and restricted travel, online exams have become a beacon of hope for universities. Students can now take computer-based exams from any corner of the world, choosing a slot that suits their convenience.
The scalability of computer-based examinations is facilitated by robust CBT exam platforms. Exams can be conducted simultaneously for multiple candidates, supporting over 100,000 proctored tests without significant investments.
Computer-based tests eliminate human error and the burden of manual evaluation. Auto-grading, especially for multiple-choice questions, ensures real-time reports, saving significant time in the assessment process.
Uncovering New Aspects of Thinking
Gamification in computer-based tests reveals underlying aspects of students’ problem-solving skills. Instructors can measure higher-order thinking skills by assessing students’ rationale behind decisions, leading to personalised learning experiences.
Computer-based tests accommodate differently-abled individuals by providing convenient alternatives to traditional pen-and-paper tests. Features such as Braille keyboards, magnification tools, screen readers, voice-to-text, and text-to-voice applications enhance the exam experience for specially-abled candidates.
Time and Energy Savings
Online CBTs automate the entire examination process, eliminating the time-consuming tasks of creating question papers, managing registrations, arranging supplies, and manual evaluation. This not only saves time but also reduces resource consumption, including stationery, invigilators, and transport facilities.
Applications of Computer-Based Tests
Computer-based tests (CBTs) find widespread applications across various domains, revolutionising traditional assessment methods. In the education sector, the last two decades have witnessed a significant shift in how assessments are conducted.
Use of CBT in the Education Sector
CBTs offer numerous advantages compared to traditional pen-and-paper tests, making them an integral part of the education system.
- One key benefit of computer-based assessments is the streamlining of the examination process. Traditional test preparation was a laborious task for teachers, requiring them to ensure fairness and consistency in each exam across multiple classes. Computer-based exams eliminate the associated challenges, catalysing the exam processes and addressing issues related to examination facilitation, result report generation, and end-to-end process management.
- CBTs also play a crucial role in combating cheating practices. By leveraging remote proctoring technologies, the integration of CBTs helps curb instances of dishonesty during exams. This method eliminates the possibility of human errors during exam administration, marking, and scoring.
- Computer-based assessments serve as valuable learning tools in education. They can be seamlessly integrated into e-learning modules, consolidating all components of learning activities in one place. For instance, within a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), students may encounter comprehension questions embedded in video content.
- Alternatively, standalone CBTs are employed in various learning environments, allowing administrators to create tests and quizzes using web-based platforms to measure student learning outcomes. These assessments, ranging from online quizzes to final exams, not only aid instructors in evaluating teaching effectiveness but also enhance student engagement in the classroom.
Use of CBT in the Certification Sector
CBTs extend their utility beyond education to certification programs. They serve as essential tools for assessing the competency of candidates in specific occupational areas. These tests validate whether individuals are knowledgeable enough to be deemed competent to practise in their respective domains.
Certification, awarded upon meeting minimum score requirements, signifies that the learner has acquired new skills and proficiency through educational or training courses. The predetermined standards set by computer-based tests ensure the credibility and validity of certifications in today’s competitive professional landscape.
How is a Computer-Based Test Done?
Computer-based tests (CBTs) streamline the processes previously carried out in paper-based exams, transforming assessments for both students and candidates. The digitalization of traditional methods occurs seamlessly within the online CBT exam system. This platform efficiently manages a large pool of candidates, ensuring scalability and organisation.
Through remote proctoring solutions, the system facilitates live monitoring of examinees’ screens from diverse locations. Additionally, it grants swift access to real-time test results accompanied by insightful data analytics.
How does a CBT Software Work?
Creating an online examination using computer-based assessment software is a streamlined process, offering a user-friendly and comprehensive solution for conducting exams. The assessment involves the following key steps:
- Exam Setup: Begin by uploading various question types, facilitated by a robust online examination software. Integration with a learning management system (LMS) is often supported.
- Inviting Test-Takers: Authorities upload student data in bulk, saving significant time in gathering and updating candidate details. Students receive invitation emails, allowing them to select a suitable exam slot.
- Authentication and Proctoring: Ensure a secure environment through ID-based authentication, AI-based live proctoring, screen recording, and browsing tolerance. These features mitigate impersonation and malpractices, ensuring credible results comparable to traditional methods.
- Real-Time Results: The computer-based assessment software delivers real-time results, customizable and shareable in PDF or HTML format.
- Group-Level Analytics: Beyond individual reports, thorough data analysis provides valuable insights at a group level, aiding future decision-making. Conducting online exams becomes a seamless and efficient process with this approach, maintaining the credibility of results while embracing the advantages of technology.
Common Fear of Computer-Based Tests
If you’re feeling hesitant about taking computer-based exams, let’s address some common concerns and put your worries to rest.
Practising on Paper
Many students prefer paper-based tests due to familiarity, but don’t let that hold you back. Even in computer-based tests, you get rough papers for calculations. Computers offer quick answer marking and easy problem navigation, saving you from the hassles of writing speed, ink colour, and bubble-filling stress. To adapt, try online mock tests for better performance insights and familiarity.
Tougher Questions Online
Contrary to a common myth, online exams do not necessarily have tougher questions. Some test-takers even find them easier, citing benefits like the ability to unmark and change answers with a click. Organisers deny any significant difference in difficulty levels between computer-based and paper-based tests. The online format helps you stay organised and review skipped questions efficiently.
Fear of Power Failure
Concerned about power failures during the exam? Most examination centres have reliable power backups, ensuring a seamless experience. If in doubt, check with the centre beforehand. Consider that the time taken for power backup to kick in is similar to situations in paper-based tests, like dropping a pen or rearranging stationery.
Worried about technical glitches beyond power failure? Relax. Organisers have taken precautions, providing sufficient buffer computers at the centres. Thanks to rigorous situational testing, national-level computer-based tests have seen minimal mishaps.
Q1. What’s better: paper-based or computer-based tests?
Computer-based tests (CBT) outshine traditional exams for several reasons:
- CBT provides a quicker, more reliable, and error-free assessment process compared to the lengthy and tedious nature of paper-based tests.
- Online exams require fewer resources, as participants can easily take the test over the Internet without the need for dedicated staff or facilities.
- Traditional exams demand specific exam centres, faculty, and stationery, while CBT eliminates these prerequisites.
- Grading is more efficient in computer-based tests, whereas traditional exams involve a time-consuming and error-prone evaluation process.
- CBT allows recruiters to reach millions of candidates instantly via email, offering flexibility and security with random question patterns to prevent cheating.
- Accessibility is enhanced for students with disabilities in computer-based tests, unlike traditional exams that may limit access for specially-abled students.
- CBT enriches content by incorporating multimedia elements, making it more interactive for visual learners.
- Online exams come with built-in features to prevent cheating, such as browser lockdown and proctoring plug-ins, reducing the likelihood of unfair practices.
Q2. How are computer-based tests monitored?
Computer-based tests are effectively monitored through online exam proctoring, which involves using a webcam, microphone, and screen access to observe the test taker during the examination.
Q3. Can participants cheat in online CBT exams?
Participants can attempt to cheat in online CBT exams by browsing external sites for answers, copying and pasting content into their browsers, or communicating with others for solutions through text messages or sharing screenshots.
Q4. How do you conduct an online CBT exam?
To conduct a secure online CBT exam, select the exam type, identify participants, and send out email links with exam details. Examinees can then click on the link or use login credentials to access and complete the exam online.
Q5. How are computer-based tests proctored?
Computer-based tests are proctored using web proctoring, which includes recorded proctoring, live online exam proctoring and automated proctoring. This involves monitoring the test taker through a webcam, screen access, and microphone.
Q6. How to attempt computer-based tests?
For those new to computer-based test, understanding the steps is crucial. Familiarise yourself with the online exam format and procedures before entering to ensure a smooth testing experience.