Evolving Higher Education: How Top Universities Are Shifting Their Exams Online For Good

The wider acceptance and technology adoption of online exams due to the disruption caused by the pandemic can be ascertained by the fact that the global market size for online exams has grown exponentially

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The year 2020 will go down as a defining one in the history of education in more ways than one. Transitions happened more swiftly than we could have ever imagined or were ready for. Universities and colleges grappled with the situation, experimented, transitioned to online exam mode and experienced the future of education.


A year down the line, in early 2021, the whole exercise of shifting to the online mode of exams seemed like a temporary measure and it appeared that we would be returning to the traditional model of exams as institutions started opening up slowly. But with the massive second wave deteriorating the situation further and dilapidating the decades-old systems and processes, one realization has been that this might not be the last disruption hitting us. Compared to the education sector, the corporate sector was swift in its shift to the remote work environment. This successful transition was based primarily on their adoption of future-ready technologies and accessibility of infrastructure such as laptops, Internet connectivity and mobiles. It’s slowly dawning upon the education stakeholders and exam decision-makers as well that it’s time to build infrastructure and processes that are resilient to crises.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the shift to a host of technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and remote proctoring reserved only for niche corporate hiring. The wider acceptance and technology adoption of online exams due to the disruption caused by the pandemic can be ascertained by the fact that the global market size for online exams grew to approximately $340 million in 2020 from $283 million in 2019. The global market size for proctored exams will increase further to a whopping $1,068 million by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 20.80 per cent.

AIMA (All India Management Association), a national management body, shifted their MAT (Management Aptitude Test) entrance exams for admissions to 6,00 B-schools in India for over 70,000 students online. Sanjeev Phatak, Director, AIMA, in one of his interviews, said the number of candidates appearing for MAT from tier-2 and tier-3 cities has increased to 47 per cent from 38 per cent (pre-pandemic times) owing to the ease of use and convenience of giving remote proctored online exams from the comfort of home. He also specifically pointed out that with or without a pandemic acting as a catalyst, AIMA will keep online mode as an alternative in conducting their exams in the future.

This feeling is reverberated across the globe, and not just limited to India. Cambridge Assessments, a global admission testing body, has also made their move online and is positive to continue with remotely proctored online examinations in the future as well. These two examples are just a tiny fraction of the larger global pie as more and more colleges, universities, and educational bodies adopt online exams in their quest to become resilient, flexible, convenient and accessible in their education and examination processes. The education sector is beginning to realize that they need to identify and embrace long-term solutions, and not some stop-gap answer, to the challenge of crises disrupting the education continuity.   

Imagine the future where a student sitting in Assam appears for an entrance examination to an institute based in Mumbai. And a student studying from the comfort of their home and taking their mid-semester tests from anywhere anytime. The shift to remote exams would also save on logistical costs and time investments that are usually a part of the physical-setting exam ecosystem. The possibilities offered by new-age technology, innovation and their open-arm acceptance and integration in the existing systems is as exciting as useful it is. Increasing accessibility of exams and education to students, present anywhere in the country or world, shouldn't be the resultant of a pandemic but the status quo itself.