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The Do’s and Don’ts During an Online Proctoring Exam

9 Jun, 2022

In this article, we will settle all doubts and provide users with a clear guide on what actions are allowed and prohibited during online proctoring exams.

Before diving into the do’s and don’ts of an online proctoring exam, let’s start with the most fundamental question: what is the proctor looking for? 


What is the proctor looking for? 

In most cases, an exam is supervised by an AI-based cyber proctor and/or a specially trained human proctor. Some violations are flagged by a robot through computer vision, while others can only be accurately identified by a human.

By working together, the proctor and AI can track:

  • Presence or absence of a student or another person in the video frame;
  • Any foreign voices in the room;
  • Use of lecture notes, phones, tablets and other technical means;
  • Use of virtual machines, screen-sharing software, and other tools to pass the exam by an unauthorized third-party;
  • Change of windows on the user’s desktop;
  • Examinee’s attempts at non-verbal communication.

What is not allowed in an exam?

10 things you should not do in a remote proctoring exam if you want to pass it successfully:

  1. Look away from the screen for a long time: The violation will be noticed by both a cyber and human proctor. Of course, it does not mean you always have to look intently at the monitor. We understand that sometimes a person can think or be distracted and instinctively focus their attention on an object in the room. However, it must be kept in mind that looking at the same object out of the camera’s field of view repeatedly could be considered an attempt to cheat.
  2. Be absent from the video frame: If the user is not completely in the camera’s field of view or covers their face, AI will automatically flag a violation. Of course, a robot can make a mistake (for example, the examinee can just mechanically cover part of its face with its hand), so such incidents are always reviewed by people.
  3. During an exam, it is forbidden for strangers to be in the room, and AI instantly records the presence of third parties. For the same reason, it is recommended to remove pictures with faces from the walls – a cyber proctor can automatically mistake these for a person and flag it as a violation. The presence of pets is not prohibited.
  4. A cyber proctor needs good lighting of the workspace so that it can function without mistakes and without flagging false violations. Lamps should not be positioned directly behind the test-taker’s back so as to not impair the computer vision system.
  5. It is strictly forbidden to substitute the examinee for another person. In any case, it will be noticed. 
  6. Unfortunately, it is forbidden to speak out loud in the video frame – even if it is the examinee by themselves. This could be misinterpreted as the test-taker dictating questions to another person.
  7. As a rule, toggling windows on the desktop is prohibited. You cannot navigate search engines from the test window or open third-party applications.
  8. It is strictly forbidden to use virtual machines, computer remote tools such as TeamViewer, Skype, RemoteAdmin, or any software that enables you to share the desktop with unauthorized people during the exam.
  9. The use of additional monitors, telephones, tablets, laptops or other technical means is not permitted.
  10. Non-verbal communication should be kept to a minimum. Winks, hand signs, head nods – all these may be regarded as an attempt to get or provide “audience assistance.”

What is allowed in the exam?

In an online proctoring exam, there are things that will not be judged as a violation neither by AI or by a proctor.

  1. You can take your eyes off the screen briefly (for example, looking away to think about a test question). However, it is important not to do it often and repeatedly so that a proctor may think you are breaching the security of the exam. 
  2. During synchronous proctoring, a proctor monitors the picture in real time. In this case, you may ask them questions in a dedicated chat (questions that are not related to the subject of the exam). For example, if you encounter a technical issue, you can safely discuss it with them.
  3. All abnormal situations (which the user cannot influence) are addressed using common sense and a rational approach. For example, if a student’s pen falls and they bend to pick it up or a child suddenly cries in the next room, the proctor will not mark this as a violation. However, remember that, if you are taking the exam in a large classroom or office where the presence of other people and foreign noise is unavoidable, all actions and sounds will be analyzed in detail.

Optionally, some schools and universities may allow the examinee to use headphones, textbooks, notes, drafts, or calculators –  the commonly-called “open-book” format. In this case, a student’s actions will be interpreted depending on the rules of that particular exam. If the university allows the use of a calculator or of drafting something on a piece of paper during the test, it will not be marked as a violation. 

Follow these simple rules to ensure a seamless exam experience so you can focus on the subject at hand and score high.

Good luck!

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