UK exam regulator, The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation, (Ofqual), has announced that it’s exploring options for online exams in the future. It has said that it will evaluate the use of online testing over the next three years. This may be the first step towards fully online GCSEs and A-levels in the UK.

Online exams were something students all across the UK became familiar with during the global pandemic. Each academic institute had different approaches when it came to how these were run during this time. This differed when it came to essay-based, multiple-choice or practical exams. In a recent survey, Unifresher asked students if they wanted online exams to stay. A whopping 70% of students said they preferred them. One of the benefits of this approach rather than the in-person ones is increased performance due to a less stressful environment. Likewise, as online exams were open-book, it meant more time could be spent on analysis rather than memorisation.

How would online testing work?
Source: Canva

How would online testing work in the UK?

Academic exams moved online out of necessity during the Pandemic. However, the proposals by Ofqual would take the open book online exams seen in 2020 and 2021 to a whole new level.

Ofqual says that the idea is still in its early stages. Therefore, it does not mean a move to online exams quite yet. In fact, the plan is centred around the idea of adaptive testing. This means that online digital exams would automatically adjust to suit a pupil’s ability level. Ofqual says the pandemic highlighted how the traditional way of testing with the same paper for all students, is not suitable under all circumstances.

Who would benefit from online exams?

The idea is that these adaptive testing online exams would mean that they are fairer for all students. This would particularly apply to students with special educational needs and disabilities. It would also help students who are coming from disadvantaged backgrounds or who are going through emotional difficulties that may impact their studies.

Therefore, this could also be advantageous in the case of lockdowns in the future, meaning that exams could continue undisrupted.

Who would benefit from online exams?
Source: Canva

What are the disadvantages of online exams?

Although it seems that the majority of university students would like to see online exams stay, there are also some disadvantages that would have to be taken into consideration. Some of these include technology issues or students without access to technology. Furthermore, concerns have been raised that it may be easier for students to cheat in online exams as these are harder to regulate.

When will the proposed changes come into effect?

At the moment, this is just a proposal. Ofqual has said that it will need to thoroughly examine the pros and cons before implementing any changes. It has not yet been said whether this form of testing would apply to university students as well as A-Level and GCSE students.

Do you think that you would have done better in your A-Levels if you had done them online? Share your thoughts in the comments.