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What a user can and cannot do in a proctoring exam

In this article, we decided to settle all doubts and offer users a clear guide on what actions are allowed and prohibited in proctoring exams.

In order to clear about definitely prohibited and permissible actions in an online proctoring examone needs to understand how proctoring works and who monitors the user actions.

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

Working together, AI and a proctor can track:

Presence/absence of a student or other persons in a video frame;
Any extraneous voices in the room;
Use of the examinee cribs, lecture notes, phones, tablets and other technical means;
Using virtual machines, screen sharing software and other tools to pass the exam by an unauthorized person;
Change of windows on the user's desktop;
Examinee’s attempts of non-verbal communication.

What is not allowed in an exam?

So, what you should not do in a 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 cyber and human proctor. Of course, it doesn’t mean you must always look intently at the monitor. We understand that sometimes a person may muse or be distracted and instinctively focus his/her attention on some object in the room. However, one should remember that even short-term, but systematic looking at the same object outside the camera coverage may be regarded as an attempt to cheat.

2. Miss from the video frame. If the user is not completely in the camera view or his/her face is covered with something, AI will automatically fix violation. Of course, a robot can make a mistake (the examinee can, for example, just mechanically cover part of his face with his/her hand), so such incidents are always reviewed by people.

3. During an exam, it is forbidden for strangers to be in the room – 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 Mendeleev's portrait for a clue. Presence of pets is not prohibited.
4. A cyber proctor needs good lighting of the workspace so that it could work without mistakes and fixation of false violations. The lamps should not be positioned directly behind the student's back and “blind” the computer vision system.

5. It is strictly forbidden to substitute the examinee for another person – in any case, it will be noticed. Even if you try to take an exam instead of your twin brother.

6. Unfortunately, it is forbidden to speak aloud in the video frame – even if it is the examinee him/ herself. The thing is that the tested person can thus dictate questions to “leak” them to another person.

7. As a rule, changing windows on the desktop is also prohibited. You cannot navigate search engine from the test window or open some third-party application.

8. It is strictly forbidden to use TeamViewer, Skype, RemoteAdmin and any software for sharing the desktop or virtual machines for passing the exam by an unauthorized person.

9. It is also not allowed to use additional monitors, telephone, tablet, laptop and other technical means.

10. Non-verbal communication should be brought down to a minimum. Winks, hand signs, head nods – all these may be regarded as an attempt to get the “audience assistance”.

What is allowed in the exam?

However, in a proctoring exam, there are things, which will not be judged as a violation either by AI or by a proctor.

1. You can take your eyes off the screen briefly (for instance, look at a pet in the corner of a room) if you are pondering a question in a test. It is important not to do it often and systematically so that a proctor may ask if there is a crib hidden in your room.

2. At synchronous proctoring, a proctor monitors the picture in real time. In this case, you may ask him/her questions in a special chat (not related to the subject of the exam). For example, if you have some technical problem, you can safely discuss it with him.

3. All abnormal situations (which the user cannot influence) are addressed through the lens of common sense and rational approach. For example, if a student's pen fell and he/she bent to pick it up, a cat jumped on the table, a child suddenly cried in the next room, or the doorbell rang, no proctor would mark this as a violation. However, remember thatif you are taking the exam in a large classroom or office, where the presence of other people and extraneous noise is unavoidable, all actions and sounds will be analyzed in detail.

Optionally, some schools and universities may allow at the exam the use of headphones (listening comprehension skills at language tests), textbooks, notes, drafts or calculators – a so-called “open-book” format. In this case, a student's actions will be interpreted depending on the rules for a particular exam. If the university allows using a calculator or writing something on a piece of paper during testing, it is not marked as a violation. But remember: you must be 100% sure that this is allowed. If you have any doubts – ask your proctor in the chat.

Follow these simple rules and you won't have to worry about the outcome of your exam. Good luck!


Examus team

May 14, 2021.
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