I took a remote exam and here’s what happened

With facial recognition software and an online invigilator observing my behaviour, and a chat system that came to my rescue, I felt supported during a robust process
by Lauren Johnson, CISI copywriter 

remote invigilation - 1920
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On Friday 3 March, before sitting my level 2 Fundamentals of Financial Services exam remotely, I did a test run to see what the screen and questions would look like. This helped me gauge what to expect. I knew where to access the on-screen notepad and calculator, and saw that the chat box wouldn’t disturb my view of the questions.

There was, however, one slightly comical issue, which luckily did not turn into a problem. I was logged in and ready to go through the required room checks with the test administrator, who was watching me remotely. She requested that I remove my jewellery, roll my sleeves up and show the anterior and posterior of my forearms.

“What is that on your arm?” she says.

“Oh, that’s just my birthmark,” I say.

“Can you show me a little closer please?”

I did. She almost mistook the birthmark on my arm for cheat notes!

Curb the nerves

Apart from this tiny hiccup, which was entirely out of my control, I felt comfortable taking my exam at home. I didn’t experience much of the nerves I likely would have sitting in a test centre. Not to mention the convenience as I had my own space to break out in celebration or sigh in despair upon notification of my result – which came through immediately. I passed!

Setting up before the exam

You will be asked to do a system check on your device to see if it will be compatible with the interactive services used and to check whether your camera quality is good enough. I did this test at least two days before. Tip number one: be prepared to go through all of the checks leading up to the sitting so that you can have peace of mind that your session will run smoothly.

Before sitting, you will be asked to make your room as bare as possible and if something cannot be removed, ensure it is covered up. If you think your room is plain enough, think again.
Knowing that the invigilator was on hand to answer questions meant that I had a chance to clarify any issues immediately

Around 30 minutes before my start time, I went through a face and ID check, which involved taking a webcam photo of my face and showing my provisional driver’s license for comparison. I then showed my test administrator, via my laptop’s webcam, around the room to check that the environment was suitable. This is to ensure that there is no information on display which could help me during the exam. She asked to see the ceiling, all four walls, the floor and even the underside of my chair, which had two store label stickers stuck to it. I couldn’t rip them off so I had to swap the chair for another. Tip number two: labels and stickers are a no-go so remove them all, wherever they are. Admittedly, I was surprised by such specific checks, but it goes to show how rigorous remote testing should be to align with the conditions in a formal test centre.

The test administrator also read out some instructions – for example, do not use key combinations during the session – and checked that I understood all the rules. I was then handed over to the invigilator who spoke to me via the chat box and informed me that I would be monitored by facial recognition technology.

Having had the chance to talk through the procedures with the administrator and knowing that the invigilator was on hand to answer questions meant that I had a chance to clarify any issues immediately. For example, I wanted to check whether I could end the test early if I finished – the invigilator confirmed that I could.

Eyes on you at all times

During the exam, I raised my hand to my mouth for about 15 seconds and the chat box popped up. My invigilator instructed me via the chat box not to cover my mouth as this would disturb the facial recognition software from registering my face. I had to suppress this habit for the next 50 minutes or so. Tip number three: focus on the screen and try not to drift from the camera view. I realised it was easy to forget that you are constantly being watched while you are answering the questions. You can’t see the invigilator, nor are you introduced on video, as you will be to the test administrator, but they can see you and the facial recognition technology is on throughout the entire sitting. This didn’t make me feel uncomfortable though, as I knew someone was ready and available to help me.

To sum up, it isn’t often that I say I enjoyed taking a test, but this was an experience of comfort and guidance that I won’t forget. I wish you all the best in your exams and hope you have as pleasant an experience as I did.

Published: 15 Mar 2023
  • Training, Competence and Culture
  • study
  • remote exam
  • remote
  • level 2 fundamentals of financial services
  • exam

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