Cirrus Hidden Gems: 12 Top Exam Security Measures 

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Welcome to our latest “Hidden Gems”, this chilly month of February is all about security. Taking exams online, at home can open you up to a world of temptations…where everything is just a click away, maintaining the sanctity of online exams has become an increasingly bigger challenge. But fear not! Today, we’re diving into what Cirrus has to offer to safeguard the integrity of online assessments. From specialised browsers that keep candidates on track, to AI that watches like a hawk, and real-life proctors who bring a human touch to digital exams, we’re uncovering the hidden gems that beef up your exam security. Join us as we explore how these tools make the online exam process more secure, fair, and reliable, ensuring that every candidate can shine on their own merits. Let’s unlock these secrets together and take a closer look at what we have to offer:

1. Safe Exam Browser

Safe Exam Browser (SEB) is a specialised web browser that creates a secure and controlled online exam environment. It restricts access to unauthorised resources, websites, or applications during exams. SEB ensures that candidates remain within the exam portal by disabling functions such as web navigation, system shortcuts, and other applications that could be used for cheating. It effectively “locks down” the candidate’s device, directing all actions within the pre-defined parameters of the exam settings. This browser is key for maintaining candidates’ focus on the exam content and preventing digital wandering or attempts to find answers online.

Read more about Safe Exam Browser in our Knowledge Base

2. AI Proctoring

Cirrus uses an AI proctoring service called Proctorio which utilises artificial intelligence algorithms to monitor candidates during online exams. This technology includes features such as facial recognition, identity verification, eye movement movement tracking and more, to ensure that the person taking the exam is a registered candidate and to detect any suspicious behaviour that could indicate cheating. AI proctoring can flag anomalies such as additional people, using unauthorised materials, or unusual activity outside of normal exam-taking behaviour and send a recording to be reviewed later. The benefit of this system is that it doesn’t require human invigilators to be a constant presence, however, it does send the recording to humans to check after the fact so there is still the “human touch” determining whether a student was cheating.  

Read more about AI Proctoring in our Knowledge Base

3. Live Proctoring

Live Proctoring, in contrast to AI proctoring, involves real human proctors monitoring candidates through live video and audio feeds during an online exam. Cirrus uses ProctorU, where live proctors can directly observe candidates, communicate with them, and intervene in real-time if they detect any form of misconduct or if technical issues arise. This method provides a human touch, allowing for judgment calls in situations where AI might flag false positives or in cases that require a nuanced understanding of context. Live proctoring deters cheating by making the exam process more personal and reminding candidates that their actions are being observed by an actual person.

Read more about Live Proctoring in our Knowledge Base

4. LOFT 3.0 and Cirrus Blueprint

Cirrus takes exam structuring to the next level with Blueprint and LOFT (Linear on-the-Fly Testing), ensuring a fair and secure testing environment. Here’s how they work to benefit the exam process:

Blueprint lets Cirrus design exams based on a specific plan, guaranteeing that each exam version fairly covers all necessary topics and difficulty levels. This means candidates face a balanced set of questions, no matter which version of the exam they take.

LOFT 3.0 takes personalization further by creating unique tests for every candidate from a vast question pool, aligned with the exam blueprint. This approach not only secures the exam against leaks but also ensures that every test is just and tailored, reflecting Cirrus’s dedication to maintaining the utmost integrity and fairness in e-assessments.

Together, these advanced features protect the hard work put into question creation and uphold the value of Cirrus certifications, making sure that every candidate’s performance truly reflects their knowledge and skills.

Read more about Blueprint/LOFT in our KB

5. Random Test Forms

This approach involves creating unique exam structures for each candidate in three ways:

Randomise Alternatives: It shuffles the order of multiple-choice answers for each candidate, making it harder to copy answers. Read more 

Randomise Questions: Each candidate sees questions in a different sequence, which makes sharing answers more difficult. Read more

Random Forms: Candidates receive unique exam sets, ensuring no two exams are the same. Read more

6. Keycode and Pincode Access

Cirrus boosts its security through both keycode and pincode access. The keycode, a one-off, straightforward login method, swiftly grants candidates access to their exams. Upon keycode entry, Cirrus verifies the details and directly navigates the candidate to their exam. The PIN, handed to the invigilator, is then shared with candidates to start the exams. This two-tier approach ensures that only authorised candidates can take the exam. 

Read more about keycode and pincode in our Knowledge Base 

7. Time-based Questions 

Implementing questions that are timed restricts the amount of time candidates have to respond. This is an effective measure to curtail the usage of external AI tools, like ChatGPT, as it limits the opportunity for candidates to seek dishonest assistance. Alternatively, candidates that fly through an exam under the allotted time by a wide margin could also signal that they’ve received answers ahead of time.

8. Cirrus Invigilation Logs

The use of data analysis in invigilation logs to monitor for suspicious activities. This feature allows for identifying patterns or behaviours that may indicate cheating by looking at exam question timestamps. Candidates that fly through an exam under the allotted time by a wide margin could signal cheating, alternatively, students that are spending a long time answering each question could indicate that they are spending time searching for answers.

Read more about the Candidate Invigilation Logs

9. Proctorio Fullscreen Mode and Clipboard Disabling 

These tools prevent candidates from navigating away from the test environment or copying and pasting content, reducing opportunities for dishonesty.

Read more about Proctorio Settings

10. Disabling New Tabs, Single-Screen Use with Proctorio

These features are designed to further limit the ability of candidates to access unauthorised materials or engage in cheating by restricting their computer’s functionality during the exam.

Read more about Proctorio Settings

11. Whitelisting Specific Programs, Websites, and Applications

The ability to allow certain resources while blocking all others. This ensures candidates can only access approved materials, eliminating the risk of using unapproved resources.

12. Update Item Banks

Not refreshing your question pool can leave your exams vulnerable to compromise, so rotate your items regularly to keep your exam content fresh. 

From the Safe Exam Browser ensuring candidate focus, to AI and live proctoring for comprehensive oversight, and advanced testing frameworks like LOFT 3.0 and Cirrus Blueprint, Cirrus has it all when it comes to keeping students honest. Cirrus prioritises exam integrity through updated security measures, including refreshing item banks and leveraging invigilation logs for a credible, fair testing environment. These advancements promote a secure, equitable examination process, where success is purely a measure of true ability.

As always, please reach out to your Cirrus Customer Success Representative if you have any questions.

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Picture of Mathijs Urbanus
Mathijs Urbanus
Mathijs heads up Cirrus' Customer Support Team. With his technical expertise and experience helping our diverse customers get the most out of Cirrus, he knows the platform like no other.
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