Same day home exams - tips and information


Due to the Corona virus outbreak, you might be thinking of switching already planned school exams to become home exams instead. 

Some of the features and functionalities in Inspera Assessment are created on the assumption that same day exams are mainly set up with Safe Exam Browser, or other lockdown options. 

In this article we will describe some of the issues that you might encounter with open book exams, and by describing these we hope to answer some of your questions.


Home exams - closed or open book?

Our current solution for closed book exams is not particularly suited for home use. The most obvious reason is that even if the computer the student uses for the test is in lockdown mode, nothing else is. Phones, tablets, books, people, and other computers all provide access to sources that are normally not available in a closed book exam. 

In addition, we know that students often need help with invigilator password when they are required to use a lockdown browser, and this kind of help is more difficult to give when students are at home.

The rest of this article will assume that your home exam is open book.


How do we invigilate or monitor home exams?

We have some tips and recommendations for what you should look for when you can't approach the student physically, and what you should disregard completely.

The warning column in Monitor

There is one thing in particular that you need to be aware of, and that is the warning column in Monitor. Warnings are enabled in Monitor for all tests with a duration of less than 24 hours. If your open book test lasts for less than 24 hours, you can essentially ignore the warnings. 

The reason for that is that for open book exams, there is no Safe Exam Browser that will suppress power saving settings on the computer, and the result is often that a candidate may show multiple offline warnings. In some extreme cases, the total warnings may be in the hundreds. This may depend on the power saving settings on individual computers, and on other individual computer settings that can cause the network adapter to go in sleep mode, or generally self adjust.

This does not mean that anything is wrong!

An offline warning in Monitor will not be visible for the student, because the connection to our servers is not broken. 

If the student does get a visible warning while they're writing the test, the recommended action is to disconnect and reconnect to the network. This should resolve the issue.


The submission saved column in Monitor

The time stamp in this column will continuously update as long as the responses are stored on our servers. This could be a useful indicator of whether everything is OK, or if there is a problem. It depends a bit on the nature of the test. For tests with many questions, the time stamp should update regularly. Especially if the questions are alternative based types, like multiple choice.

However - do not rely fully on this time stamp. We know that students who write essays in home exams may prefer to write in a different application, like Microsoft Word, and then paste their response into Inspera at the end of the test. In this case, the submission saved time stamp will only be updated when they start to input their responses in Inspera.

If the test is set up as a file upload, the submission saved time stamp should be completely disregarded until the end time approaches, which is when the students will start uploading their file. 

To summarise - the time stamp will only be updated if there is any activity by the student, so even lunch breaks will be a pause in the submission saved time stamp.


Send message to candidates

If you need to send a message to the candidates during the test, you can use the regular message feature that is available for all tests and candidates. 

Messages will remain in the candidate's message center, across all tests, and a tip is to mention the specific test the message relates to, to avoid later confusion. The test name is not automatically added to the message, but it is time stamped. 


Other actions that may be useful

All the actions you would normally use during a closed book exam are still available in open book exams. Extra time, open for resubmission, attach file, etc. 





5 tips to improve home exams

This presentation was a part of the Inspera Seminar 2020 and gives you tips and tricks of what to think about when creating home exams.

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