Paper-based vs. Computer-based MCQ style exams from the candidates’ perspective.

Although the computer-based exam is a more efficient way for the university administration and review, the question is that do students benefit the same, and does it affect their performance? There is no question that technology is now pervading the world of exams and will continue to do so in the years ahead. However, this brings up the question of which form of tests is better for students. 

Computer-based exams refer to delivering exams with computers rather than usual paper and pen. These tests are conducted online through the internet or a computer-aided service. It is proved to be efficient to host online examinations on a large scale. It also enables institutes to evaluate candidates’ performance on the go regardless of their location. 

Paper-based exams have been used for a very long time for the selection process. Evaluators used this conventional method and specific measures until the modern technology age. With internet technologies and computer gadgets being an indispensable need in diverse areas of life, online evaluations can not stay behind. Compared to traditional exam approaches, computer-based exams have several possible advantages. In multiple fields, for example, education, government, and corporate, computer testing is used. The web-based assessment format offers a conduit to all parties, including evaluators, applicants, performers, supervisors, selectors, and so on.

Although several advantages are possible for performing online tests, let us see how paper-based exams vs. computer-based exams will make a difference from the viewpoint of students. 

Computer-Based or Online Exams 

In today’s world of technology, pupils have grown up using technologies and skills even better than the previous generation. They are surrounded by machines all around. Teachers have also adopted making use of modern teaching methodologies using the computer to upgrade the student’s learning. This makes it clear that the recent generation of students is more used to technology even in their education, and using this technology in exams is just the next step forward. 

As per Jane Brown of FinQuiz – a third party prep provider approved for financial analyst exams, computer based exam has increased opportunities for candidates to schedule exams on multiple dates. 

However, many students may not find paper exams easy when compared to paper-based vs. computerbased exams, when the most part of their learning is on the computer. Many types of research have proved that online assessments are easier for students to use and also beneficial in their performance. These may also be fairer since they tend to be more consistent, and thus, the marking is standardized. 

Test boards already use automated technologies to isolate answers to specific questions in order to speed up the grading process. This makes the process more transparent while also allowing examination at a broader range without the loss of papers!

The student will also have a great experience with paperless tests. Saying that a student may have a certain time frame after analyzing himself, during which he may sit down to study his answers to see if he or she was correct or wrong. Students get more time, without the hassle of copying the questions and, in some part, even the answers when most of the time, the paper is in the form of a multiple-choice questioner.

 Paper examinations remain standard for some challenging subjects, but there are also detailed discussions regarding the potential to transition to paper-based vs. computer-based exams. According to ASCO, there might not be much difference in the performance of students until much research is done with increased familiarity in this transition of the exam. 

Paper-based Exams

The paper-based exam ensures a degree of protection for students who know that this system has been built and used for decades. There are fewer probabilities of papers being destroyed and less fear of technological errors that trigger test problems. In the same way, paper tests will feel like an examination in a conventional environment, and hence the value of the exam is confirmed to the students. 

However, in the same manner, as some students may be dealing with computers, some pupils may not be able to compose over lengthy stretches of time. This may mean that they cannot adequately complete questions and fail to achieve the heights they deserve.

Moreover, readability is required for papers based exams, which is also effectively marked, and many students still struggle with this. 

Students Experience with Computer-Based Exam

Bringing technology into exams in schools and universities is foreseen in the future, and its efficacy is still in debate, according to many kinds of research conducted. It has mostly been seen that computer-based vs. paper-based examination perception of university teachers and students have scored more with online testing as they are more proficient with it. 

In a study, a total of 266 German students participated from the 9th and 10th semesters of medicine (comparable to the 4th year North American medical school schedule). Where 132 participated in paper-based and 134 computer-based. The students were allocated for the exam format according to their prior exam results. Both groups were provided with the same questions, environment, and seating arrangements. However, the test results of paper-based vs. computer-based exams did not differ. The groups completed their tasks within the allotted time. Students using the computer-based exam completed it in significantly less time as compared to the paper-based exam group.  

However, it was seen that some low-performers had more of a guessing behavior using the computer-based exam. In conclusion, participants in computer-based tests were not at any disadvantage in terms of their results. 

Benefits of Computer-based Exams

During these unprecedented times of a global breakout, computer-based exams have not only proved beneficial in not compromising with the academic schedule but also offers a plethora of advantages to online learners, teachers, and programs, primarily in terms of administration and grading. Let us have an insight into the benefits of online exams. 

  1. Multiple Test Administration. 

Students can take short, multiple, reliable exams administered throughout an e-learning program. Learners can be assessed on national or regional standards from the data collected from their online exams. This data can also be conveniently exported from most LMSs to a network for assessment and analysis.

  • Instant Grading 

Multiple-choice questions or true and false can be assessed instantly and graded automatically to allow students to quickly see if they made real-time educational improvements based on the feedback of the assessment evidence. Instructors teaching online can help and guide students on how they can improve to score better. A clear example of this is the Quizmaker in Articulate 360, which helps students who have made poor use of a certain slide or tools to gain substantive input.

  • Diverse or personalized assessments 

Tests can be modified and adapted according to each student. Based on the previous answers of the learner, the complexity of each question can be modulated. Evaluations may be more customized by using Skype or FaceTime systems that encourage a teacher to reach and provide students with individual oral evaluations or using Recap or FlipGrid to allow students to exchange thoughts, questions, etc.

  • Open ended assesmnets 

As every teacher understands, it takes incredible time to complete open-ended tests (for example, portfolios or projects) that use formulas. Ease of scoring rubrics and correspondence to students is automated through quick additions, such as orange slices or Google sheets add-ons. In this way, teachers can dedicate more time to reviews.

  • Analytics for students and teachers

Examinations and performance-based data can be linked to hard assessment data that is related to registration/login number, the time taken to complete the task, and the posts on the forum. Furthermore, a student-facing assessment will allow students to monitor success and results better and to get dates and “early warnings” reminders of the appointments if they are at risk of any disappointment. Before a final examination, diagnoses will help students to reflect on the areas of deficiency. Teachers should also use analyses for assessing the consistency and utility of services, referring properly to the percentage of the results and tracking student engagement to enable the teacher to intervene.

  • Feedback 

Feedback tools, whether video-based or voice-based, allows providing more easier and personalized feedback for the instructor. Video feedback, in particular, provide students with a personalized success review. As video input analysis is faster to make, it can provide rich and qualitative information on student performance. 

Five reasons students should transition to computer based-exam

By using an online or computer-based exam, you can say goodbye to spreadsheets and answer sheets and restructure your assessment process through online marking tools. If you are reluctant to move to the overwhelming task of switching to online examination, here are some key points you should consider that would help improve your examination process:

  • It is efficient and saves time. 
  • Better student experience. 
  • Better and accurate marking standards.
  • Safe and friendly, Covid-free environment.  
  • Easy moderation and re-marking.  

There are many confusions to paper-based vs. computer-based examinations. Some students may feel daunting switching to computer-based exams instantly. But once you get used to the process, it becomes comfortable, safe, and efficient while not willing to get back to the conventional style. Students should make sure that they have access to all the resources (computer, internet, etc.) that would be necessary to conduct a computer-based exam prior to its commencement.