What’s the Difference between Online Exam and Offline Exam?

What is the key difference between online exam and offline exam? Are online exams better than offline exams? Which one is faster in grading? And, it can be more confusing now to talk about paper-based exams in the same context. So “are offline exams and paper-based exams the same?” If not, how are they both different than online exams? And which is better?

These are some of the most relevant questions we consistently hear in today’s world of education… If you’re in the process of preparing your educational organization for exams and you feel a bit uncertain, we promise you’re not alone. 

Taking a decision on the best examination option for your educational organization takes time and supported data. In this article, we will attempt to tackle all of your questions on online and offline exams so that you can pick the best fit for you.

 

What Is the Difference between Online Exam and Offline Exam?

Before we go into the difference between online and offline exams and explore the different types of them, let’s talk about the examination process. For a successful examination, we have to go through through the following 3 phases:

  • Exam creation, in which an exam has to follow a set of principles
  • Exam delivery, online or offline or paper-based
  • Exam analysis, where we analyze the assessment results

 Image: difference between online exam and offline exam

 

Now if we do look into computer-based exams, meaning exams that are formed and graded using a computer system, we’ll find that there are a lot of types of exams: offline computer-based exams, online exams, and paper-based exams.

The biggest difference between online exam and offline exam and paper-based exam is in the second phase: the exam delivery, as seen in the image below. Exams can be delivered either using a computer, laptop, mobile, and tablet or printed papers (find out how Qorrect assessment system can do both online and offline exams on our Youtube channel now!).

Educational institutions have different options they can choose from, with the examination systems technology offers.

Even if a college, for example, still prefers using paper-based exams, they could set the examination halls for students, schedule the suitable dates, generate the exam through the examination system, then print it in papers for students to answer in, and then scan the papers and enter the answered papers back into the assessment system so that it can grade at once, generate reports on students results...

1. Offline Exams

Some may assume that an offline exam means that the assessment is done only by pen and paper. And that’s not wrong at all. However, offline exams don’t have to be only paper-based. They can still be done in a computer lab, for example, where there is no Internet access, but there is a local network available.

But still, what is the definition of offline exams? An offline exam means an exam that can either be administered paper-based or offline using examination software systems, like Qorrect, in which the test is run within an examination facility with computers only locally connected, for example.

Needless to say that many organization now tend to stay away from the former type, due to the many disadvantages it has.

 The second type is carried out by agreement between the educational organization and the exam delivery portal providers beforehand.

Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of offline exam against any other online exams system, you might consider choosing offline exams over online exams. The most common though is having an unstable Internet connection in the examination facility.

A not so reliable online exams platform might cause delay during the exams if there is bad Wi-Fi. In some cases, many students even complained that the answers they’ve added to the system before a Wi-Fi disconnection were lost once the Internet was back (see we can resolve this issue using Qorrect examination portal).

                                                                                        

2. Online Exams

There is a lot of misinformation on the way online exams are conducted. A large percentage believes that as long as exams are not proctored by someone who stands right in front of students, watching every move and whisper, it’s easy to cheat.

This is now far from the truth. In fact, today’s technology gives you the means to proctor students more closely. Instead of being distracted by a not-so small number of students in a classroom, you can employ the right software that lets you spend your time in the right place.

A powerful online exams or e-testing system is 100% secure. It runs with a safe exam browser that locks examiners’ screens to show only the exam on the operating system used. This makes the exam cheat-proof.   

Since we’ve already established that the biggest difference between online exam and offline exam is in the delivery phase, let’s discuss the other phases the online examination process goes through.

Exams were first designed many years ago to assess students’ understanding in relation to the learning objectives of their lessons. Therefore, building an online exams assessment software means focusing on the targeted learning objectives.

Now, a lot of attention in the educational world is given to this point. In fact, if you scheduled your Free demo from Qorrect, you’ll find that the examination process is built of 5 parts, the first one depending on learning objectives.

 

What Are the Common Points between Online and Offline Exams?

Now let’s talk about what’s common between online and offline exams. First, both types of exams, in Qorrect assessment system, are based on the balanced, learning objectives set by the lecturer to begin with.

Second, once you choose to create the exam, whether you choose it to be online and offline exams, the examination software comprehensive data analysis of the questions or exam items, e.g., their difficulty level, etc.

What’s more, the system’s items bank sets an automatic expiration period for each question, recording all the data related to it. This way, you get a report of every time a question was used in a test, avoiding repetitive questions every year.

The software also allows you shuffle questions and answers, set different forms for the same exam, check captured handwriting images, and go through results and performance reports.

 

How to Create an Online Exam?

1. Identify Your Course Objectives

  • You can add the learning objective and cognitive levels that you connect later on with your questions.
  • You can specify the criteria of the exam paper, e.g., number of questions.

2. Optimize Your Questions Bank 

  • You add all types of questions, including audio, video, and essay questions, based on specific keywords related to the cognitive levels and learning objectives, building your questions bank as you go.
  • You are able to get psychometric analysis of each question. For example, the discrimination characteristic of questions will be able to tell you whether it can identify A students from others who need more help.

3. Select the Right Exam Delivery Option for You

  • Creating exams manually: in the type of exam creation, you select the questions you see best fit your exam based on the different cognitive levels, lessons, and learning objective of each one.
  • Creating exams semi-manually: in this type, you choose all the needed criteria and the exams.. lecturers sometimes prefer this one since it spells equality and fairness for all students. As the percentage of human error here is almost zero!
  • Creating exams automatically: this is the last type and it depends on the blue-print criteria you add in the course management. You only have to specify what type of assessment you need, and the exam is created automatically.

 

Is Online Exam Better Than Offline?

Your students, Z generation and millennial, are already accustomed to computers. It’s a big part of their lives. They’re familiar with it more than pens and papers. Their fingers move over keyboards much faster than with a pen. However, online exams might not be something they are used to now.

That’s why you may find a large number of students who consider online exams interesting and engaging. But are they are better than offline exams or not? Let’s go through paper-based vs computer-based exams and see!

Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Exams

  • First, online exams offer you the chance to open admission for international schools from any place in the world with no problem at all. A school or college with online examination system will have the capabilities now to widen its student-base.
  • Online exams are flexible in both time and place. You can allow students to pick the time slots that suit them the most in order to take the test. Moreover, any answers students enter in online exams are automatically saved, while allowing them to edit or delete anything if they change their mind.
  • Not all students have excellent internet connection; therefore, some colleges have started supporting their students with the means to improve their Internet connections, while some governments began strengthening their infrastructure so that once the examination period is set, governmental colleges won’t have to postpone exams due to COIVD-19. 
  • In an online exam, scheduling exams is the easiest thing. Since the exam is already on one system that connects you to your students, thousands of students taking their exams at the same day and time on the system won’t be a problem. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Offline Exams (Paper-Based)

  • In an offline exam, your students will have to go to your facility’s exams hall in order to take their exams. This is rather  inconvenient, in 2021, with COVID-19 not slowing down.
  • Students get too worried of erasing anything on paper, especially in a bubble-sheet exam, since their answers might not be erased completely and it takes too long to erase any bubbles they’ve made since they’re instructed to darken them to much for the scanner to detect.
  • Dates of paper-based exams are set by the school administration or the college administration and they are not changed unless there’s an emergency.
  • It’s rather easy to cheat or leak exams.
  • There are many complaints about the lack of exams objectivity; an entire exam may depend on only one part of the curriculum, which is not fair; it is necessary to highlight each part in order to create a balanced test.
  • Test results are sometimes delayed in traditional exams.
  • Their financial cost is high.
  • They require a lot of attention from the college administration and management.
  • Interactive questions such as video are not available in paper-based exams.
  • The difficulty of accurately monitoring and acquiring data on the quality of the questions, entire tests, and results.
  • The examination process is long and cumbersome for all parties in the education system.
  • Some schools choose to schedule the same test at different times for each group of students in order to reduce attendance at the test hall and reduce traffic, to avoid any health problems during the spread of COVID-19.

 

Online exams systems are part of a greater purpose, education… Edtech is nothing new to the world of education. It’s been there for years now. And its tools are far from perfect. However, they’ve proven to be something we can rely on now and they’re here to stay!

If you haven’t reserved a FREE Demo for Qorrect online system yet, you’re missing out on a lot! Register now for free.

 

Resources:

  1. Analysis of unfair means cases in computer-based examination systems.
  2. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/chandigarh-over-50-exams-will-be-held-online/articleshow/81087017.cms.
  3. https://blogs.worldbank.org/education/moving-high-stakes-exams-online-five-points-consider.

 

About Yasmine Nasr

Yasmine Nasr has been part of the content world since 2017. She has worked as a translator, content writer, editor, copyeditor, and English language instructor. She holds a BA degree in English, Translation, and Literature, plus a degree in literary and media translation from the American University in Cairo. Today Yasmine is a content writer interested in education technology, especially exams autograding, computer-based exams, evaluation & assessment systems, and LMS, in relation to academic accreditation with the aim to improve exams quality and student learning and experience.

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