Ian Simons provides some top tips for candidates taking remotely invigilated exams
We realise that exams are by their nature often stressful and occasionally high-stakes events, where you need to be able to focus on performing to your best abilities, not worrying too much about process or technology.
Like other exam providers, we have learned a lot during the last two pandemic-hit years about how to help candidates overcome many of the new challenges presented by retaining a rigorous and fair exam environment without the physical invigilation we are all familiar with in exam centres. We realise we haven’t always got this right for all candidates.
Since the first lockdown in 2020, we have delivered more than 65,000 exams in the UK and internationally – almost 40,000 of them remotely. This year, we have delivered more than 14,500 already, 50% of which have been conducted remotely, including both on-screen written and multiple-choice formats. We continue to take feedback from candidates to improve the experience.
During April, 138 candidates reported issues, representing 3.3% of all those taking part. That’s a slightly lower proportion than typically reported issues when all exams were held via centres with our previous exam platform provider.
But any unnecessary obstacle to a candidate having a successful exam is unacceptable, so we have implemented a number of improvements to simplify processes and guidance, taking insights directly from candidates, complaints trends, survey feedback, best practice and local institute volunteers.
The majority of issues that candidates face taking exams remotely could be avoided or mitigated by following these simple tips:
- Do not use a corporate laptop or company WiFi. Laptops provided by your employer will typically include security software and protocols that will conflict with the remote invigilation software. You may also not have administrative rights to install the secure browser or disable prohibited programmes.
- Check your computer passes the system check in good time before your exam, and take time to try the familiarisation test so you can get used to the exam interface. Note there are different familiarisation tests for the multiple-choice and on-screen written exams.
- Double check you have fully read and followed the detailed instructions for your exam. Some exams require different processes and software, so for example, candidates taking R06 should be aware that different procedures apply from earlier R0 units.
- Prepare your exam environment well in advance, following all our guidance on room setup, including making sure that any other household members are aware you are not to be disturbed.
- If possible, connect to your router with an ethernet cable rather than relying on WiFi.
While it was Covid-19 travel restrictions that necessitated the expedited rollout of remote invigilation as candidates were unable to use physical centres, now in most cases candidates have a choice between sitting exams remotely or at one of 72 centres in the UK and more than 700 worldwide (almost double the number of venues available previously).
By following these simple top tips, we hope that most candidates can make that a simple choice, and they can focus on studying to perform at their best in their exam, whether at home or at a centre.
Full guidance for exam candidates, including our new exam user guides, can be found at: www.cii.co.uk/learning/qualifications/assessment-information
Ian Simons is customer director of the CII