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TOEFL, GRE, GMAT have best security specialists, can National Testing Agency match up to them?

Most global tests are computer-based tests and are conducted several times a year

education Updated: Feb 22, 2017 09:30 IST
Gauri Kohli
Gauri Kohli
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
At the centre of these exams is the test content which determines its effectiveness and the accurate measurement of the knowledge.(Istock)

A number of cues for the National Testing Agency (NTA) can be taken from foreign agencies conducting Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Most of the tests are held round the year to give a chance to candidates to reschedule them.

An important thing, however, is to remember that the terms online testing and computer-based testing are interchangeably used, says Soumitra Roy, country manager, Prometric India, a global testing agency.

Online testing means candidates using the internet in real time. In computer-based testing, the internet is used to download the appointment. Then the test is downloaded and kept on the server to be launched on a specific day. “That is how the high-stake exams such as the GRE, TOEFL, United States Medical Licensing Examination, Medical College Admission Test and other major global exams are conducted,” Roy says.

These are all computer-based tests and are conducted several times a year. However, in our country, says Roy, it is not ideal to go for online testing as it increases the chances of hackers sneaking into the item bank, rendering the technology unsafe.

Global exams are in continuous testing mode – with multiple exams in a day or through the year. As Roy says, “At the centre of these exams is the test content which determines its effectiveness and the accurate measurement of the knowledge. This is because computerised testing requires a larger number of test items due to the greater number of test administration dates typical of these models. The item bank becomes a critical element, then, and must be supplemented so that a sufficient number of items, both within specific sub-content areas and overall, are available.”

Some of the testing agencies across the world follow established global practices such as IMS Global Specifications. “This ensures the tests conducted have high integrity and measure knowledge reliably by curbing cheating and by utilising psychometric analysis in developing high quality test items,” he adds.

Globally, some of the large scale examinations have the expertise of the best network security experts, psychometric analysis, professionally trained faculty as item writers, robust software systems and IT practices to create most secure examinations which even the most difficult of imposters will find to penetrate. Dr Bipin Batra, executive director, National Board of Exams, says, “India being a major player in terms of absolute numbers in higher education, it is time to develop our expertise and create global benchmarks.”

First Published: Feb 22, 2017 09:26 IST