Should formal exams move online?

Technology might have impacted on almost every part of life, but exams are still done the old fashion way. While pupils are likely to spend a growing portion of their school work using computers, tablets, or other forms of technology, the vast majority of exams are still completed sitting at a desk with pen and paper. Is it time for formal exams to move into the digital age?

It’s a debate that’s been gaining importance over the last few years and, just like any debate, there are both pros and cons to the argument. From SATs and GCSEs through to university level tests, should formal exams be conducted online?

Advantages of online exams

There are many advantages to creating and enforcing formal tests that can be taken online, including these four.

  • Ensure timings nationwide – Every effort is taken to ensure that pupils all across the country all start their exam at the same time and have the same amount of time to complete it, going digital makes this easy.
  • Reflect technological changes – Exams have been conducted in the same way for decades despite technology changing enormously in that time. Using online exams proves that pupils are computer literate, can type, and posses many other skills that are now considered essential for the workplace.
  • Allows for the use of additional media – Using technology to offer exams can help to make them more engaging and test additional areas. For example, high quality images and videos could be incorporated. It could also present an opportunity to deliver exams that are more inclusive, such as audio-described exams for blind students.
  • Incorporate the role technology plays in modern life – This one is controversial but it’s an important one. Today, it can be argued that students don’t need to memorise key historical dates or complicated formulas, in the real world they’ll be able to access that through smartphones in minutes – should exams reflect this change?
  • Reduce the use of paper – For the environmentally conscious, moving exams online represents a significant opportunity to reduce the amount of paper used and have a positive environmental impact.

Drawbacks of online exams

Of course, on the flipside, there are drawbacks too.

  • Managing use of the internet – While it can be argued that internet access should be allowed during the exam, it will still need to be monitored either way. A student who is excellent at researching online, for example could score better than a pupil who has a far better grasp on the subject matter if internet access was not effectively managed.
  • Risk of cybersecurity – Recent cybersecurity attacks have proven that no organisation is safe. Should exams move online it should be expected they’ll be targeted and investment would be needed to mitigate this risk.
  • Potential for computer errors – Everyone has experienced the feeling of dread when their computer unexpectedly crashes or faces an error. Imagine that happening in an exam. Technology might have advanced, but it can still be unpredictable at times.
  • Access to necessary equipment – School would need to have access to and a setup that allows computers to be used for exams, it could mean needing to invest in further equipment or affecting the work of other pupils. Additionally, not all schools have access to the same level of equipment and this could offer unfair advantages, for example, newer computers that run faster could have a significant impact on the ability to research.

Tags: online exams, formal exams online,

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6 considerations when creating online tests for homework

Online tests can provide an effective homework exercise for pupils of all ages and span a variety of subjects. But, even when you have a tool that makes creating tests simple, there are still some key considerations to bear in mind when you’re putting them together.

  1. How accessible will it be?

If you’re setting online homework, you can’t be sure what device your pupils will be accessing your test from. As a result, it’s important to make sure your test is accessible from the most frequently used electronics, including tablets and smartphones, as well as standard desktop PCs.

  1. Will there be a need for extra media?

Some questions could benefit from additional media that complements the questions, such as photographs, diagrams, videos, or audio clips. It’s a consideration that should, firstly, influence which tool you use, and then how you prepare and set out each question. Without the option of adding extra types of media, you can find yourself limited to the areas that your online test can cover.

  1. What format should the questions take?

As with all tests, there are different ways to set out your questions and which one is most suitable depends on what you want to achieve and the topic. For example, multiple choice questions are perfect for quick maths homework sessions, while long-form answer options may be more appropriate for English literature assignments, luckily DesignATest offers you choice and allows you to blend formats.

  1. What style of language will you use?

Again, this will depend on your overall objective. If you simply want to see if your pupils have grasped a particular subject, keeping language simple and clear is the way forward. But if you’re preparing for exams, for example, it’s a good idea to use the type of language that your students will be faced with on the actual paper.

  1. How easy will the test be to mark?

One of the key benefits of using DesignATest to create online homework is the automated marking. You don’t want to spend hours working through homework if you can help it, taking your time away from other valuable activities. As a result, it’s worth considering how it will be marked beforehand.

  1. What insights will the results offer?

Your homework results should offer some insights into how your class is progressing overall and on an individual level, reflecting how well they’re picking up the study areas. DesignATest makes this part simple, with an easy to use dashboard to gain a quick overview or in-depth perspective.

 

Tags: online tests, homework online test, DesignATest,

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How to use DesignATest to boost SATs revision

For teachers responsible for year six pupils, SATs are fast approaching. For many pupils, it’s the first formal exam they will have sat that will have an impact on their future education and some nerves are definitely to be expected. Luckily, some revision planning can help put them on the right path to achieving their full potential.

If you’re looking for ways to use DesignATest to support your SATs revision, we’ve got a few ideas to help you out.

  1. Assess reading comprehension

Reading comprehension can be difficult to assess and a marking effort to see which children need extra support in this area. Creating a DesignATest that reflects a book you’ve been reading in class means it’s easy to make comprehension a part of daily classroom plans. Through making a test that links to books you’re already covering, you can pick out those you know are at the right level and will engage with your class, while DesignATest means you can quickly identify who is struggling with just a glance thanks to the automated marking.

  1. Practice arithmetic

Sometimes it’s the basic questions that pupils lose marks on because they’re trying to answer them quickly, such as during the arithmetic test. Going through maths questions as quickly as they can, can help your pupils improve their mental arithmetic abilities and reduce the number of mistakes they’re making.

  1. Measure spelling and punctuation ability

Spelling, punctuation, and grammar are one of the key topics of KS2 SATS and, as a result, it should be a core revision topic. It’s an area that multiple-choice options with DesignATest can help. From picking out which word is spelt correctly to identifying the sentence with the correct comma positioning, it can help children recognise the correct SPAG and feed into their written work too. It’s a useful way to assess how much has sunk in during a class SPAG revision session.

  1. Allow long-form answers

One of the things that makes DesignATest so useful, is the ability to mix multiple choice and long-form answers. On the SATs papers, they’ll be expected to give longer answers for some of the questions, but it can be an area that some children struggle with, especially when a single paper uses a mixture of different questions. Getting to grips with how much time and detail to go into for each question can improve time allocation on exam day.

 

Tags: SATs revision, SATs resource, SATs teacher support

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What is the DesignATest database and how to use it?

DesignATest was created to make accessing vital resources easier for teachers and place a new tool in their hands to reduce time making and create engaging tests that are aimed at their students. From primary school children through to students in further education, we’re building a database that could benefit you.

Firstly, what’s DesignATest? It’s an online tool that lets you create customised online tests and can provide automatic marking. As a result, it’s an ideal tool for quickly assessing pupils, from an individual level through to measuring how a whole year group is performing.  It allows you to track progress, tailor classes, identify where extra support is needed, and save valuable time on marking.

We know how important sharing is in the teaching community, and that’s why we created the DesignATest database. Whenever you create a test, you can opt to share it with others using our platform and you have access to those that have been shared too. Why is that a benefit? We’ve got several reasons for you:

  • Search by topic – We make it easy to search for peer reviewed tests across a huge range of topics, from maths to drama. With the ability to browse through tests that have been created by experts in their field, you can find ones that match your plans.
  • Match to your classes attainment – With a database at your disposal, you can find an online test that matches the overall attainment level of your class. With the customisable feature, it’s possible to set variations to suit different ability groups.
  • Find inspiration – Sometimes you just need some inspiration, and our database can help you with that. Whether you want to get some ideas on how to set out your tests or the types of questions to ask, DesignATest can be an invaluable resource.
  • Speed up planning – Our database can make the planning process easier and significantly reduce the amount of time spent on it. With a subject area in mind, you can find a link to an online test in just minutes.
  • Make setting homework simple – If you want to set quick, online assessments to be completed at home, our database is useful here too. It allows you to set our revision or further studying options without taking your time away from other vital areas.

 

Tags: DesignATest, online test teachers, class test teachers,

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How regular testing supports student development

The debate over how frequently children should face formal exams is continuing to rage. But there’s no denying that regular testing can provide a valuable way to support student development.

Those against testing argue that it can place unnecessary stress on children and shift a focus away from learning to parroting information. However, when used in an informal classroom setting, there are many benefits to regular testing students of all ages, including these five:

Assess individual performance

Tests provide you with a simple way to assess how each pupil within your class is progressing towards their goals. It gives you a chance to provide targeted intervention and additional support if it’s needed by highlighting where a child is struggling before it’s left too late or has an impact on the next stage of the topic.

Highlight topics that need revisiting

As well as giving an individual view, tests can also provide an overview of your whole class. It can indicate if you need to revisit a topic or approach a particular challenge in a new way to help your pupils gain a good grasp, whether it’s a maths technique or a historical event. It allows you to see which ways of teaching your class respond to.

Keep previous topics fresh in the mind

Teachers will often find that their class excels at a particular area, only for it to have been completely forgotten about by the following term. Having tests on areas that have previously been covered, helps with memory recall and keeping past topics fresh in the mind of your entire class.

It gives students a clear indication of how they’re performing

It’s important for students to understand how they’re progressing and doing in class too, whether you’re teaching at a primary or secondary level. Test results make it clear where extra work needs to be put in to boost overall grades and reach targets.

It prepares students for their exams

Exams are part of the educational system and being prepared for them helps pupils of all ages perform to the best of their ability. Making tests a part of regular school work helps to place students in a good position for the exams they’re working towards.

Here at DesignATest, we make it simple to create and use online tests that help to support student development and keep track of how they’re progressing.

Tags: testing students, online tests schools, student development,

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4 time saving tips for teachers

It’s well documented that the workload of teachers can be a heavy one; spending all day teaching and once the pupils and students have left for the day the marking, planning and preparing for the next day begins. Plus, there is so much more now that teachers must do to adhere to policies for not only the educational establishment they work in but also government directives.

Saving time and resources where possible is probably on your mind if you’re in the teaching profession – here are some tips to try and save time in your working day and maybe mean you won’t be working into the weekend!

Prioritise and schedule

It might seem obvious that you need to have a structure to your day, but it doesn’t just apply to the teaching time. If you have marking to do then allocate a set amount of time to complete it, prioritise the items that are essential and leave less urgent tasks until later in the week. Some people live by lists and they tend to be more organised as a result.

Streamline processes

Depending on the age of the students or pupils you’re teaching then they’ll be easier to get into the habit of helping you streamline your processes. Daily tasks like registering can be done by the individual rather than the onus being on the teacher to spend 10-15 mins ticking off a list of names as they arrive for the day of learning. Using an online resource for your materials like DesignATest could also save you time when you’re planning lessons.

Allocate one day to stay late

If you know you won’t get everything done in the time you have then allocate a day to stay late and power through a list of tasks that have been hanging around for a while. The hours after lessons finish are a good time to get on with some of the housekeeping requirements of the job.

Delegate

A lot of your time could be taken up with some of the non-teaching tasks that being a teaching professional entails. If you teach children then you have a whole host of little helpers to delegate to – choose a team each week who are in charge of making sure the classroom is tidy, or that books and equipment are all returned to where they should be, pencils and crayons are sharpened or coats are all tidily on pegs – you could also reward their efforts with a certificate. This will not only make your load lighter but will instil a feeling of pride and responsibility into the children each week.

 

Tags: time saving tips, teaching tips, saving time teacher

5 tips for creating online tests that are engaging

When you’re creating online tests, you want to keep your audience engaged and avoid the risk of them getting bored or distracted to give them the best possible chance of success. The popularity of your tests will be proven when users come back time and time to see what’s new on offer and actively seek out your content to further their skills and knowledge. Here are five tips for making your tests stand out from the crowd.

Use positive language

Users want to feel like they have a good chance of passing your test, or teachers looking for resources want to use something that will encourage their students to strive for the best. Positive language will create confidence that no matter the outcome they can achieve something from taking part.

Include images

Visual stimulation will make the brain work in a different way to reading text. Use images where suitable to make the user adapt quickly to different mediums and challenge their brain power. Images can also be used to help with questions where the answer may be subjective depending on how much attention to details is required.

Set a clear goal

A plainly set out introduction to your test explaining the reasoning behind it and what it is aimed at achieving will help the user to focus on the task ahead. Knowing the thinking behind what they’re doing could also to help to formulate how they approach the task. Outline what the basic skills are that are being tested, the time it should take to complete and an indication of where the pass mark might be.

Avoid true or false questions

True or false questions might not necessarily test ability and if you give people the 50/50 option they may just take the chance instead of thinking about their answer properly. One or two true or false questions might be ok to include but a whole test in that format is going to be a little bit dull for your users.

Vary the type of questions

As mentioned in the above tip, true or false aren’t always the most stimulating of test questions. Try and have a variety of requirements of the user. For example, multiple choice, ordering tasks, labelling etc. This will keep the student on their toes throughout as they won’t know what’s coming next.

At DesignATest we have all the advice and resources on hand to help you create and share engaging material for both teachers and students alike.

Tag: online tests, designing online tests, engaging test questions

Irish Schools to Ditch Paper Based Exams for Digital Testing

Students studying for their Irish Leaving Certificate will complete their exams online. This is the latest measure by the Irish Government to bring their education inline with a technologically advanced workplace.

Computer science will be the first subject to have digital exams and completed online. Richard Bruton, education minister,  is convinced this is the future of exams and education generally;

“I’d say that is the direction we are heading. We want to ensure that digital technology transforms our education system and that we utilise the power of digital technology.”

“The ambition is to be the best in Europe within a decade. We are looking very clearly at the extent to which digital technology can transform assessment methods as well.

Digital testing is still a new idea for many education boards around the world. Experts remark that education is falling behind the pace of technological innovation in the workplace. This is failing to prepare students as a result.

Entire Courses Completed Online

All students will complete the entire course on Laptops including the course work and exams. The Irish Government hopes this will show a real commitment to digital learning.

Irish schools have recently introduced computer science as a subject. It seems this is an attempt to catch-up at an accelerated pace.

The course will offer programming, web building and social aspects of how technology impacts us today and in the future.

The challenge this change might present with out-of-date assets is a worry for schools. Making sure each student has sufficient access is also a concern and barrier.

Schools that have adequate resources to run the course will be able to teach it from 2020. This includes access to high speed broadband and a minimum processor threshold. The requirement of a ratio of one child to one computer ensures adequate access.

DesignATest is an online testing platform that is available to schools all over the world. If you want to start bringing technology into your classroom and get access to pre-made tests and courses it’s a great resource.

The platform allows you to create multiple choice tests and quizzes for your whole class. It also feeds back results instantly to student and teacher. Incorporate interactive graphs, videos and lots more:

Generate Tests All Over The Globe

You can now generate online tests no matter where you are in the world. It is working wonders for developing countries.

Schools in the UK can help schools in the developing world by sharing their knowledge online. As we eek into an evermore globalised and connected world, the need for an international testing standard will only increase. A major problem for employers is that they now have job candidates from all over the world but struggle to assess the weight of an applicants qualifications.

One way to help the developing world is by sharing the bank of knowledge and resources we have in the west using new technologies. Some developing countries have standardised national exams, some do not, however it is now possible to share exams written by experts across the globe.

At DesignATest we have a test bank where teachers all around the globe can access exams written by renowned professionals. It also works in reverse in that teachers in developing countries can also share their exams. This offers insight into curriculum’s all around the world. It also allows teachers to generate online tests really quickly, and whit automatic marking their workload is halved.

The idea that a child could be doing the online test in London whilst at the same time a child could be sitting the same test in Nairobi is very exciting. As the internet finds it’s way to the remotest corners of the earth it is revolutionising education. Access to infinite information delivered in less than the blink of an eye with the input of keywords into Google. Young, old, rich and poor online learning continues to liberate people all around the world.

Generate online tests

We are in the infancy of something that is changing the world forever. It does however mean more competition in the workplace and it is important to prepare young people for the 21st century workplace. That is no longer a place of endless photocopying and handwritten documents. We’re all worried about AI taking over our jobs, why are we still insisting the bulk of education be done in analogue?

We don’t put ‘computer literacy’ as a skill on our CV’s it’s just expected for all professional positions. In this global market technological expertise is a bargaining chip.

The vast majority of staff in both Twitter and Facebook headquarters in San Francisco are not American. Tech companies struggle to recruit qualified people in the west. This is because of a reluctance to teach computing and internet based subjects.

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Countries like India and China have simply surpassed the west in terms of technological expertise, and the clear focus on Mathematics in Asian education only compliments this.

Generate Online Tests

With DesignATest you can generate online tests, multiple choice quizzes  in minutes. You get access to a whole world of knowledge.

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AQA Broke the Rules

Is it time to switch to online assessment creator? Exam providers the AQA has been forced to take action this week following reprimands from the qualifications regulator Ofqual, reports come amid a remarking scandal. The AQA  has admitted it did not follow remarking procedure correctly on many of its GCSE and A level papers.

The response from the AQA states that Ofqual “identified increases of marks and grades” from the 2017 GCSE and A level exams.

THE REMARKING is “considered to be inconsistent with fully compliant application” of the rules. The AQA now insists it is correcting the issue and addressing internal concerns to ensure they are fully compliant.

Most inconsistencies were with the GCSE English paper  Ofqual established that there was a hike in GCSE grades being changed – up 52 per cent on last year. Ofqual notices that an unusual number of students had submitted successful review cases, whereby the examining body remarks the paper and adjusts marks and ultimately grades.

Sally Collier – chief examiner – remarked she is “very disappointed” at the increase, appearing before an MP’s education select committee,

. She stated: “Some exam boards have implemented it very well, and some exam boards haven’t”.

The AQA recognised that “it failed to secure full compliance.”

The exam board has entered into a contract with the regulator to review and retrain its marker. The AQA has also committed to making clear “the circumstances in which changes of marks are appropriate, and in which they are not”.

This comes as some examining bodies prepare to enter the realm of digital marking. It may even mean the end of the remarking process altogether given that automatic marking is far more objective than a human marker.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority has stated it intends to switch over to computer based exams and marking by 2020. Automatic marking gets rid of human error. It allows the exam body to make real economic savings over traditional paper exams.

Craft your own online test today and discover the power of online marking. You also get access to a bank of ready made tests created by experts in their filed.

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