Cirrus Hidden Gems: The One and Only Office 365 x E-Assessment Integration

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We take immense pride in every feature we’ve introduced on our platform, from our first Hidden Gems, the Heartbeat Monitor, to the accessibility ReadSpeaker integration. Each one is an important building block in our platform, which we designed to truly cater to everyone’s needs. This month, we are thrilled to spotlight a feature that is especially near and dear to our heart: our Office365 integration.

A while ago, our customer (and friend) Chartered Accountants Ireland approached us about going above and beyond having a basic financial question type in our platform. What if candidates could work in the exam as they would in a real-world scenario? We got to co-developing this Office365 feature so that future accountants can work directly with the tools they already know and love, mirroring actual job experience. The rest, as they say, is history.

PowerPoint, Excel, and Word need no introduction. Launched in 1989, these core applications quickly became staples in business and education thanks to their versatility and intuitiveness. 

  • PowerPoint: Perfect for crafting engaging slide presentations with its customisable templates, animations, and multimedia integration.
  • Word: The go-to for creating and formatting professional text documents, from reports to novels.
  • Excel: A powerhouse for data crunching, offering robust tools for complex calculations, graphs, and organising large datasets.

With that very brief description out of the way, let’s get into the meat and potatoes of how this integration will transform your exams:

Direct integration in a familiar environment

Candidates taking exams through the Cirrus platform benefit from working directly within the familiar Office365 interface. This eliminates the learning curve often associated with exam software, allowing candidates to focus on the content of their exams rather than navigating unfamiliar tools or interfaces. The direct integration means that all functionalities of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are available, making it possible to perform various tasks—from simple document editing to complex data analysis and persuasive presentations.

No need for individual licenses

A standout feature of this integration is that candidates do not require individual Office365 licenses. This is not only cost-effective but also simplifies the setup for both candidates and administrators. Institutions can manage the integration through a single Microsoft Business account, streamlining the administrative process and reducing costs for both organisation and candidate.

Flexibility and accessibility

The ability to work on pre-filled or empty templates within the exam offers candidates tailored and realistic assessment conditions. For instance, in financial exams, Excel can be pre-populated with datasets and formulas, reflecting real-life tasks that financial analysts or accountants might perform. This flexibility ensures that exams can be customised to closely match job-related tasks across various industries.

Fit-for-purpose exams

Having full access to all Office365 functionalities within exams allows candidates to demonstrate their proficiency realistically and comprehensively. For example, finance students can showcase their ability to use advanced Excel functions like pivot tables, macros, or financial formulas, which are crucial for data analysis and decision-making in their future careers. 

Organisational benefits

Organisations that adopt this integrated platform can enhance their reputation as forward-thinking and candidate-friendly. They are also better positioned to attract a wider pool of candidates who appreciate the opportunity to use industry-standard tools during their assessments. 

Getting started with Office 365

Ready to enhance your exams with Office 365 integration? It’s simple—start with just one Microsoft Office 365 Business account to enable this feature across your entire organisation:

  • Initial setup: Collaborate with your IT department to connect Cirrus to your Microsoft account, following the detailed instructions available on our Developer Platform
  • Creating and Marking Questions: You can find detailed  information on creating and marking Office 365 questions in our Knowledge Base
  • Preview and Test: You can use our Anonymous Sharing or Preview feature to simulate the candidate experience. This helps ensure that everything functions as intended before your candidates take the exam.

Any questions? Please contact your Cirrus customer success team

The future of Office365

We are consistently improving our platform, and the candidates aren’t the only ones who benefit from Office365, we also kept our markers in mind! Coming soon…our collaborative marking tool directly in Office365. This dashboard transforms marking into a dynamic, interactive experience.  You’ll be able to highlight, comment, and work alongside colleagues within the same document, making marking a shared effort. Not only does this allow for delegating tasks effortlessly, but it also invites multiple perspectives to evaluate each response, enhancing accuracy and consistency in your grading. Stay tuned for this exciting development!

Not a Cirrus customer yet? Let’s talk about how we can help you deliver more authentic exams. 

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Cristina Gilbert
Copywriter and digital content enthusiast, Cristina is motivated by the fast-paced world of e-assessment and the opportunities online exams give students to thrive.
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