26 October 2011, Wednesday
The archaic mode of the paper and pencil test has given way to a more sophisticated online exam method which judges the candidates’ agility along with his academic skills and other parameters. The aspirant needs to acquaint himself with the computer prior to attempting this test, says Sangeeta Yadav
With the advent of new technology and innovations, life has become much more simpler and easier. Similar has been the case with the examination methods where the archaic mode of the paper pencil test has given way to Computer-Based Test (CBT) or Online exam. Though the fundamentals of the examinations remain more or less the same, the testing process changes both in terms of strategy and execution.
With the ongoing Online CAT exam 2011, the examinees are getting a first hand experience of e-assessment and online testing which is becoming popular. So much so, that it is being widely used in universities and other recruitment companies across India. Many people are under the misconception that CBT is an internet-based exam. However, contrary to this view, it is a computerised administered testing method that enables educators and trainers to use computer interface for fast and real time results.
Rather than reading a paper booklet and darkening the circles on the answer-sheet, the examinees are now getting to read the questions on their computer screens and can choose an answer by clicking on the option. The online test system has been developed through Java and SQL. Several e-learning portals have been designed which conduct mock online tests to build up the confidence of aspirants for the main exam. The online test system which has been developed using computer languages meets the objectives of the system for which it has been developed. Online test not only sharpens the aptitude skills but also provides an enjoyable experience to the students.
“Students should take online Proctored Mocks to get acquainted with the testing pattern. Students should be comfortable with the use of technology and should also play online word games,” says Gautam Puri, vice chairman and MD, Career Launcher Educate Ltd.
He adds that a balanced learning approach is the key to prepare for an online exam. “Students should make an effort to blend studying online and offline. A proper learning approach lets students study online and offline. A major chunk of the preparation has gone online – MBA on Demand, CAT Scan, Test Series and GATE Test Series. All these things help students study in the same medium as they take the exam” adds Puri.
A thorough knowledge of the subjects is required by the students to perform well in the exams. “The online test preparation requires a lot of focus and the candidates should be aware about their subjects. Even people from the remote places of India don’t require advanced skills to crack an online exam.
The basic knowledge of computers is enough,” says Rahul Zavera, GM, Test Funda, an online test training institute. Experts say that the following tips will help the students:
- Get acquainted with computers. Read a lot of stuff on computers
- Get used to comprehension from the screen by adequate practice of online mock tests
- To be successful in a CBT, proficiency in using a computer is a must especially since the time allotted is limited. Students who do not have access to computers at home should try to practice exams by visiting cyber cafes or libraries.
“In OMR exam, even small but important and sometimes unnecessary things take a lot of time. For instance, encircling the option without error using a pencil can be an irritating task. Indians are used to writing but now the trend has clearly shifted towards online mode of exam,” says Zavera.
Before starting the online test, the aspirants are provided a 15-minute demo test in order to familiarise them with the entire set-up. Through demo tests, the test takers can get an idea of how to manage time in the actual test. An online demo test provides additional advantages.
For instance, the candidate can take the test anywhere and at anytime and can get a first hand experience of the actual test which is not possible through paper-based demo test.
Online test also offers flexible time and place by providing options to choose the date from the dates provided. In case there is a clash between two entrance exams, the online exams allow the aspirants to plan their exam schedule accordingly.
In a normal login window, multiple login options are provided which enable many persons to access the same site with their individual login. But in online tests, there is only one login which is referred to as the administrator id and there is a password by which a person can enter the site. Thus, it’s more secure and reliable and the login details of the candidates and their marks are stored in a backup for future use.
The proposed system is secure because there are no chances of leakage of question paper as it’s dependent on the administrator only.
It simplifies the testing process thereby reducing the lengthy checking process and paper work.
In online exam, students don’t have to waste time on darkening circles on the OMR answer sheet.
After the exam gets over, the server automatically terminates the examination.
Online exam reduces the chances of human error in terms of correction of the test papers and the results are faster and more accurate.
Online server gives the list of attempted and un-attempted questions to the candidate. He can go to any question directly and can either attempt or change the answer of the already attempted question. It not only simplifies the testing process but also reduces the lengthy checking process and paper work.
“Technology is not very well-spread in the hinterlands. Therefore, many students end up fearing the exam. Our technological infrastructure can’t support a flawless test schedule. Testing centers can’t be opened in every city. Also, it puts pressure on the students,” says Puri.
In the past, candidates have bore the brunt of technical faults. “In 2009, CAT online tests were spoiled by technical glitches like server crashing, computer hanging, login failure, abrupt shutting down of the computers during the test and virus attack. With high standard testing centres and backend server interface, candidates can now be assured that such mishaps won’t happen again in the future,” says Zavera.