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Why Live Proctoring is Key to Conducting High-Stake Online Exams

Published: August 05, 2020 In: Online Exams & Proctoring

The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 peaked during a time when many schools and universities hold year-end exams. For many students around the world, these year-end exams represent very high-stakes, results of which are typically used to determine the progress of a student in the education system.

According to Oxford Bibliographies, a high-stakes exam is an exam where the outcome is used to make decisions about promotion, admissions, graduation, and salaries of the test taker. Some examples would be entrance/admission tests, final term exams, certifications, and recruitment tests.

While the pandemic forced several schools and universities to cancel or postpone examinations, this decision proved to be the anchor of a much needed upgrade in the education industry. It forced many universities such as The Imperial College, London, and the Advanced Placement exams offered by the College Board to take the leap of faith in technology to evolve the way education took place and start exploring online proctored examinations.

For high-stakes exams and critical certifications, there is an apprehension to adopt remotely proctored examinations as an authentic way of assessing students for the fear of cheating, as such exams make or break their future.

But many advanced proctoring tools, such as Talview Live Proctoring Software, ensure in numerous ways that your test-takers do not cheat on proctored exams. Having mechanisms such as a 360 degree environment check, automated plus manual flagging of malpractice, browser policing, face and voice detection, etc., along with carefully selected and well-trained proctors guarantee that the exams conducted through these platforms are highly reliable.

(You can learn more about Talview’s remote proctoring platform here.)

To top that, with emerging technologies and a variety of proctoring methods available (like automated, recorded, or live proctoring), you can even record all exam sessions and store them for audits or exam reviews in case you want to recheck any exam session at a later date. All this makes remotely proctored exams much more equipped to detect cheating and other malpractices than an in-person proctor.

Hence, given the circumstances, the question now is not whether to choose online examinations or not, but the specific type of proctoring that will fit best for your institution. And this blog post will tell you why live proctoring is the ideal method for conducting high-stakes exams. It covers the following topics:

  1. What is Live Proctoring?
  2. How is Live Proctoring Different from Automated or Recorded Proctoring?
  3. How Live Proctoring Can Help Conduct Secure High-Stakes Exams

What is Live Proctoring?

Live remote proctoring is a method of remote proctoring where a qualified human proctor supervises an online exam in real-time via the test-takers’ webcam and computer screen feed.

The proctors are trained to ensure the authenticity of the student and look for any instances of malpractice during the exam that could indicate a compromise. This gives you more time to focus on other work while the proctor takes care of administering exams.

Certain proctoring software go one step further to ensure exam integrity and credibility by having several checks in place at regular intervals throughout the exam. Talview, for instance, allows you to hold a live proctored exam along with auto-proctoring feature enabled to be doubly sure of catching malpractice.

Initial round of authentication

Proctor’s screen for the initial round of authentication on Talview's Proview Proctoring

How does it work?

For the exam to begin, the student is first required to fill in their details like name, date of birth, age, and gender to ensure student authenticity. Then, the student has to submit an ID proof for facial recognition. In the same step, the microphone and webcam are tested to avoid any errors or technical difficulties during the exam.

Once the initial authentication tests are complete, the real examination can begin.

How is Live Proctoring Different from Automated or Recorded Proctoring?

Online exam proctoring vary in type depending on whether they are auto or live proctored, or pre-recorded.

Recorded Proctoring

For recorded exams, the proctoring software simply records the activities of the student while they are taking the exam. It is later played back by a proctor in fast-forward (3x to 20x speed) mode to check for any red-flags or suspicious activity.

Advantage: This form of proctoring doesn't require strict exam scheduling since the student can take the exam at any time and place.

Disadvantage: A proctor cannot take any live actions like warning the student, or suspending or terminating the exam. Recorded exams also don’t let the proctor go through multiple videos parallely, making it difficult to host high-stakes exams which are conducted for hundreds to thousands of students in one go.

Advanced Automated Proctoring

Similarly, in automated proctoring, the audio-video and screen share feeds of the students are recorded during the test. Along with that, the system also monitors the student’s feeds for any suspicious activity and raises a flag using advanced audio and video analytics — which can be checked by a proctor or an exam controller.

Advantage: It eliminates both scheduling and location constraints. It also doesn't require human intervention, and, hence, it is scalable and more cost-effective — useful for schools and certification providers.

Disadvantage: While this form of proctoring is the best, most efficient, and sought-after method, it does not provide a very human experience of test-taking.

Exam compromise report by Talview's Proview

A comprehensive exam report revealing which exam was compromised from most to least

Live Proctoring

In live proctored exams, on the other hand, the student can take the exam as they would in a classroom setting — knowing that a proctor is there to help them out if they have any queries during the exam or catch them if they decide to cheat, as the proctor looks over the students or their exam screens at any given time.

This makes live proctored exams highly reliable, authentic, and scalable. Since one proctor can invigilate multiple exams at a time, you can have as many students as you want take an exam concurrently without worrying about a compromise on the results.

Since high-stakes exams are time-sensitive, catching or warning students attempting to cheat or helping the student if they get stuck anywhere becomes easy with live remote proctoring. It also helps the proctor address false positives in real-time and avoid wrongly terminating the exam for some students.

Also, the exam can be taken from anywhere at any time, reducing the burden of students to travel far to reach exam centers while also ensuring that the student attempts a big exam from the comfort of their home.

This works best for working students who otherwise have to take leave from work to travel long distances to reach the examination center.

How Live Proctoring Can Help Conduct Secure High-Stakes Exams 

Listed below are the key ways in which live online proctoring tools help you successfully conduct secure high-stakes online exams.

  1. On-Demand Testing - One of the setbacks of having online exams is its scheduling.

    Test centers are usually open only specific days in a week typically from 8 AM to 5 PM. Hence, exams can only be scheduled during certain hours of certain days.

    An advanced live proctoring software today can help you virtually schedule exams. Since the students don’t have to travel to a certain location, scheduling exams with a click saves much of your and the students’ time and effort.

    For instance, Talview’s Proview Proctoring allows you to easily schedule exams with your students on-the-go, book their calendars, and send them timely reminders when the exam approaches.
  2. Security -Remotely proctored examinations today are extremely secure. A smart and reliable proctoring service will provide you with full transparency regarding all the data being used, where it is being used, why it is being stored (if it is), and how it is being discarded after an exam is over.

    To make sure that you don’t fall for a fraud remote proctoring system, do a thorough background check to ensure that your solution is non-invasive and has privacy protection. Furthermore, it should be able to produce legal documents that give them the permission to access your data for the sake of holding online exams on its platform.

    Secure tools like Talview’s Proview Proctoring, on top of having their proctors go through a rigorous training and empanelment process, also have them sign a privacy and security contract that legally binds them to not expose any data or information that they might gain on-duty to any third-parties.
  3. Scalability - To conduct online high-stakes exams, the proctoring software you choose must be scalable. That means it should be able to hold multiple exams on its platform at a time, regardless of geographies.

    With the edu-tech industry developing rapidly, it has become essential for a proctoring service to be able to hold large scale examinations hassle-free. Such exams hold high importance and, hence, have no room for error.

    An effective live proctoring tool today can ensure that you are able to conduct any type of exam (from MCQ tests for internal or mid-term to essay type finals) for as many as 1000-2000 students concurrently.

    You can employ 30-60 proctors for such a big number of students, assign 1 proctor for roughly every 30 students, and easily hold large scale exams without having the need for a physical classroom or exam center.

    Such exams prove to be much easier, logistically, and can reap greater results than offline exams due to its cheat-detecting and authenticating capabilities.
  4. Authentic, Error-Free Results - There are many ways in which students try to cheat in an exam — be it online or offline. But with technology, it has also become easier to catch them and/or stop them from doing so.

    Here are some of the ways students try to cheat on online exams and how you can avoid that.

    Since live proctored exams have a real-time proctor looking over every students’ screens and webcam feed, the exam becomes just like any other classroom exam where you can be sure to catch a cheater.

    In addition to that, many proctoring services even use Artificial Intelligence to be doubly sure of catching any malpractices. In Talview’s live proctored exam, for example, you can now have a qualified live proctor look over the students’ feeds while at the same time have the AI-led software auto-detect suspicious activities like eye movement, tab-switching, copy/pasting answers from elsewhere, etc.

    Candidate log by Proview
             Talview Proview’s Candidate log screen that records all flags raised during an exam

    As the software detects such activities, it automatically raises a flag according to the severity of the act and records it in the video log of the student.

  5. Human Touch - As students attempt their exams alone in a room with no physical proctor looking over them, online exams might make the students anxious and the exam-taking experience creepy. But, the method of live proctoring is the closest to making the online test-taking experience more humane.

    The fact that you can attempt high-stakes examinations from the comfort of your homes and can reach out to a live proctor at any point in your examination for any guidance makes this method very suitable for high-stakes exams.

    As a leading remote proctoring software provider, Talview enables the proctor to chat with students while they attempt the exam. The proctor can send a message to any student that they are proctoring via the platform.

    If the proctor catches a student engaging in suspicious activity, like looking away from the screen for too long or trying to talk to someone else in the background, they can simply send a message to the student asking them to stop before the proctoring software raises a flag or, in extreme cases, disqualifies the examination.

    This not only ensures that the student does not have to look at the video of a proctor constantly flashing on their screen, but also that their concentration is not broken abruptly.
  6. Non-Intrusive - Live proctoring enables the proctor to view from 1-40 students’ exam screens at a time, depending on how advanced the proctoring tool is. The focus of the proctor is divided among many students and not just one.

    Proctor dashboard
                                     Proctor’s Dashboard by Talview’s Proview

    When the proctor feels the need to focus on one student’s feed — because of an indication of suspicious activity, or for doubt clarification, the proctor can intervene and help them if the proctoring tool allows them to.

    Apart from that, in many intuitive and smart proctoring tools, there are mechanisms put in place to ensure that the test environment is as conducive and non-intrusive for the student to perform their best.

  7. Qualified Proctors - The proctors that are chosen for such exams are highly trained professionals who have been rigorously tested and trained for the sole purpose of ensuring that any exam that they invigilate should be highly authentic.

    You could even say that they are more likely to detect malpractice during exams that classroom teachers would overlook. But again, this varies in different proctoring software.

    Protip: Ask your remote proctoring software provider for documents stating the empanelment criteria and process of their proctors. That might give you much trust and confidence to choose or not choose them.


High-stakes exams hold the power to change someone’s whole life and professional career. So, making the exam-taking process as comfortable as possible works best for both you and the students. Having a robust live proctoring platform along with a good bunch of well-trained proctors becomes the best measure of reliability for any exam and makes live proctoring method an excellent and reliable choice.



Tags: Online Exams & Proctoring

Written by: Olivia Gomes

Olivia is a Content Marketer at Talview. She completed her graduation in English Literature and MBA specializing in HR, so she combined her two interests and now writes about HR tech updates and latest trends in the world of talent acquisition. Her other interests are traveling, writing, and deconstructing the psyche of people around her.

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