I spoke to a fellow last week who had experienced difficulty with an at-home test.  He checked in with the proctor, showed his ID, did a room scan, showed his screen with a mirror… but immediately after the test commenced it was terminated because unauthorized software was detected running on his computer.

The test-provider wouldn’t tell him what software had been detected, and they wouldn’t refund his $215 registration fee.

But, hey, this guy was determined to take the test. He registered to try again the following week.  Sadly, the exact same thing happened.  He found himself down $430.

Picture this: he doesn’t have a score, his deadlines are fast approaching, and he still has no idea what software caused the termination.  No refund has been offered.

Needless to say, the guy decided to take a different test.

For the record, the average monthly wage in his country is $556.

I hear about this sort of thing quite frequently (though most people switch to a new test after the first termination).

I don’t think this guy really set out to cheat.  Some background process was running in Windows, but this dude has no idea what a background process even is.

I recently read that the “Skills for English” test has created a proctoring position called a “Check-in Specialist.”  This individual is responsible for examining the testing environment and checking the test-taker’s ID before the test begins. After these things are done, the rest of the proctoring is handed off to someone else.  I love it.  

Perhaps all testing organizations should consider creating such a position. In addition to the above, the specialist could be trained to detect unauthorized software and quickly shut it down before the test begins.  I mean… the proctors have the ability to remotely control the test-taker’s machine, so why not?

It’s important for the people who design online proctoring services to put themselves in the shoes of the young people taking their tests.  I’ve learned that a lot of young people today don’t really know about the finer details of desktop operating systems.  Many of them don’t know what the Windows Task Manager is.  Some don’t even know what the System Tray is. In 2023 everyone lives and dies by their smartphones, so that level of knowledge is no longer necessary. They think that programs stop running when they exit them.  So… stuff is left running when they take the test. A trained proctor could step in and compensate for  the test-taker’s lack of expertise.


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