Benefits to using a multi-modal approach to state licensure exams


Benefits to using a multi-modal approach to state licensure exams

Alon Schwartz


Due to the high-stakes nature of licensing exams, the test center mode of exam delivery has been at the core of the state licensing world. While that is not likely to change any time soon, as we see the methods used for online testing rapidly evolve, the landscape is shifting rapidly. The advent of Internet Based Testing (IBT) created a need for secure administration and technological advancements have made online proctoring possible. Early adopters within the licensure world are starting to implement a multi-modal approach to test delivery, using traditional test center delivery, and adding an online element to the exam process.

You’re probably one of those who welcomes advancements in testing but you have understandable concerns about security and candidate accessibility – particularly when it comes to high-stakes testing where outcomes will impact a candidate’s career or where public safety is at risk. Exams have moved online for the convenience of candidates, reduction in costs of deployment, and to increase accessibility particularly for those in remote locations. But rest assured that, at the same time, many of the risks of online testing have been significantly reduced with advancements in test security.

Security in Online Proctoring

With the application of innovative technology, it’s important to note that online proctoring is as secure as physical test centers, and the quality of the exam remains the same. In fact, we’ve done a comparative study of online remote proctored versus onsite proctored high-stakes exams to confirm that candidate scores are not affected by testing modality, so the passing rates remain the same. With multi-modal test delivery, organizations opt for a level of security that’s appropriate for their needs using both online proctoring and physical test centers.

Methods for ensuring security in online testing:

  • New biometric methods to validate the identity of test takers include facial recognition, digital identification scanning, and writing sample comparison. These tools can be used for both test registration and within the test session itself.
  • HD camera surveillance of the test taker, their desktop, and surroundings, when combined live with Artificial Intelligence (AI), can be used to pick up anomalies in the test environment. This might be an unauthorized person entering the room or a candidate picking up a mobile phone.
  • Data forensics using advanced analytics will pick up over-performing test centers and candidates or higher than average pass rates that can then be investigated further.

As the pace of technological change increases, improvements in standards for detection and prevention of test fraud need to be ongoing. A good test provider will remain vigilant and constantly look for ways to improve test security.

Candidate Experience

Our research shows an extremely high rate of candidate satisfaction with the experience of onsite (test centers) or online proctoring – virtually no difference in candidate experience ratings. And, importantly, examinees’ ratings of testing conditions were uncorrelated with their exam performance.

However, we do understand that online proctoring does, of course, require a minimum level of system requirements of the candidate. Most online proctoring providers will require the candidate to have access to a computer with a working webcam, microphone, and internet connection.

Online proctoring is an incredibly flexible and convenient option for candidates, as they won’t need to take time off from work and/or travel long distances to sit for an exam. Test takers can easily download a secure browser to their device that prevents them from taking any unsanctioned or unprescribed actions during the test. This may include browsing the internet, taking screen grabs, running a virtual machine, using instant messaging with third-parties, or accessing any other applications.

With a multi-modal approach you are giving the candidate more choice of whether to take their test in a test center or in the comfort of their own home

Who Can Use Online Proctoring?

Online proctoring is suitable for any type of state governmental agency and trade association, including real estate, insurance, contractors and trades, barbering and cosmetology, and state insurance. If there is a theory-based component to the assessment, then it can be delivered using online proctoring.

PSI has recently launched one of the first insurance regulatory exams to be accessed remotely by candidates and proctored online. The combination of traditional exam administration at test centers and a secured online proctoring platform that is accessible to remote candidates marks a revolutionary change for the entire insurance industry.

While online proctoring adds convenience for candidates who don’t always have the flexibility to test in a physical test center, and increases accessibility to remote areas, availability of devices and system requirements can present a barrier to some seeking licensure exams through online proctoring. By offering a multi-modal approach to state licensure, you’re truly increasing the accessibility and reach to those seeking to become licensed. If you do add online proctoring to your test methods, you will see benefits in accessibility and security, further improving your pass rates and overall candidate experience.