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Test Security

Test security

A beginner’s guide.


Why is test security important?

Maintaining the security of your tests, exams and assessments is vital. Not only to ensure accurate measurement but also to protect your organization’s intellectual property and brand integrity. Perhaps most importantly, there needs to be trust that test results are fair, reliable and valid – and that any credential, certification, license or qualification has been achieved honestly.

Misconduct can occur in various ways. A test taker could gain access to pirated content before a test, copy answers from another test taker, or use a proxy test taker. As the technology used by a minority of individuals to commit test fraud advances, the technology used by test providers to prevent and outpace fraud also improves. It is our duty as test providers to ensure the validity of all the tests we administer by addressing these security risks.

On this page you will learn:

What now for test security?

psi client testimonial

PSI has been able to offer us added security features, while always keeping standards of practice front of mind and allowing AACN to make the decisions that are right for our organization. We were very confident moving away from the static forms in order to increase exam security.

Kristen Thomas

Certification Manager, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

psi client testimonial

PSI provides a very secure system, not only for our candidates but also for the data that we share in terms of test forms and test content.

Melanie Thomas

VP of Credentialing Operations, NBRC

What secure testing measures can I use during test design and development?

What security measures can I use to prevent misconduct on test day?

There are some fundamental measures used to prevent misconduct on test day. Any test used to make important decisions about people should be proctored by either a:

  • Test Center Administrator (TCA) – at a secure test center, or
  • A proctor – provided specifically for a testing event (online or in-person).

Test center security measures include:

  • Initial checks and walkthroughs – for unapproved items and active monitoring.
  • TCA placement and seat assignment – through viewing window and/or video surveillance.
  • Individual testing cubicles – with physical barriers separating test takers.

With secure remote testing:

  • Virtual room scanning – of testing environment with webcam to prevent the use of additional electronic devices, unauthorized hard copy resources or other people in the room.

For in-person and remote testing:

  • Lockdown browser – to prevent external communication or access to resources. Also prevents test takers from copying and distributing test content.
    Recorded testing session – for proof of test integrity.

How do I know a test taker is who they say they are?

Always check the ID of every test taker before the start of any test. This need to accurately authenticate a test taker’s identity goes hand in hand with a duty to protect their personal information.

In a secure test center this involves:

  • A trained and certified TCA checks each test taker’s photo ID with a proof of signature during the check-in process.
  • TCA may also take a photo and collect a digital fingerprint.

With secure remote online testing services:

  • A test taker shows government issued ID through webcam for proctor to verify before test begins.
  • Throughout the test, a proctor ensures another person has not entered the room to collude with, or replace, the test taker.
  • A proctor assesses whether any discussion was about the test (misconduct) or something innocent (such as a child asking for a snack).

How do I ensure consistency across remote and in-person testing?

Many organizations adopted multi-modal testing in response to COVID-19, giving us an unprecedented ability to examine meta trends across secure in-person and remote testing across multiple programs.

Tell me more about…

If test misconduct takes place how do I detect it?

PSI has security experts on staff who can take on the work of going out to investigate what's going on at testing centers, and that's been a fantastic weight off my mind.

Ben Price

Chief Executive Officer, NBSTSA

What if a test taker shares test items or forms online?

Are secure remote tests, exams and assessments used in education?

Why is it important to have and communicate a strong test security policy?