A step-by-step guide on how to set up remote and secure testing for mathematics and statistics courses

Over the past few weeks, apart from general questions regarding online learning, we have been also getting a lot of questions on how to implement remote testing.

So we thought we could share with you how we are helping our teachers set up online testing.

How does online testing work with SOWISO?


The flexibility of our testing module lets our teachers use it for diagnostic, formative and summative assessments, depending on the settings chosen by the teacher.

Automated grading

A main benefit of our digital testing is that student answers are graded automatically by our math engine, saving you a lot of time!

  • This grading is non-binairy, meaning that partially correct answers can also receive partial grades. And by means of mathematical equivalence we’re able to allow for different forms of correct answers.
  • The automated grading even works when students carry an error forward; although step a of a question was answered incorrectly, it’s still possible to earn points in follow up questions b and c for example, if these were answered in a correct manner (although they used the wrong answer from step a as starting point).
  • After the automated grading, teachers can act as a second corrector if they prefer, double checking the answers and grades, and overriding them if needed. This can be done horizontally, per question, or vertically, per student.

SOWISO testing

Example of creating a test in the SOWISO teacher environment

Test content

There are multiple ways to create exams in our platform:

  1. Teachers can select questions directly from an extensive existing item bank (for the subjects, please take a look at this overview).
  2. Apart from that, it’s also possible to author your own questions in the build-in authoring environment.
  3. Import of legacy (digital or offline) content is also possible in some cases. We can support you in that.

When it comes to the form of the questions, there are around 25 question types available, ranging from open (mathematical) input, to multiple choice, or geometrical exercise types. This will help in finding the best suited format for testing particular types of students’ knowledge.

Furthermore, you can use our essay-type questions, which enables a student to write text, enter formulas and draw illustrations. This is a question type that’s used a lot for more in depth reasoning like “Argue/prove that…”

How do we ensure that no cheating occurs?


First of all there are a lot of randomization options to ensure not two students get the same test version:

  • All test questions include randomized variables, meaning that even though the skeleton of a certain question is the same for each student, each instance of the question is different.
  • Next to that the order of test questions can be randomized.
  • And finally you can create a larger pool of exercises of which each student gets a random selection.

Test settings

On top of that, we also enable teachers to restrict tests with passwords and IP range. While restricting a test with a password is pretty straightforward, restricting a test with an IP range means that a test can only be taken from certain devices in certain locations, e.g. an on-campus exam room. Both of these measures try to reduce the probability of students relying on other people to do the test for them.

We also provide teachers with the option of enabling full-screen mode, which is activated as soon as the test launches. Exiting the fullscreen mode will cause a message with a 10-second timer to be triggered, asking the student to return to the exam. If the student does not return before the timer runs out, the test is automatically submitted.

You can also add an extra layer of security to remote testing is by using our file upload feature. There are a variety of ways you can get creative with this feature: for example, you can ask students to upload their written notes or a video explaining their answers.

Additional proctoring services


At the end of the day, we are a browser-based application, so when doing summative tests at home, there are some limitations. To ensure that the individual taking the test is indeed the student who should be taking the test and that the student is not using a secondary device during the exam, e.g. a second laptop or mobile phone, we partner with a proctoring service.

For teachers who want to ensure that their remote testing environment is as secure as it possibly can be, we’ve partnered with ProctorU. With the help of ProctorU as an additional service, every exam is guided by an online invigilator, a real person who is connected to the student. Students will be asked to show their ID and environment before a test starts and will be monitored via their webcam and microphone during the entire exam. Screen activities are also recorded and checked for fraud both automatically through the ProctorU algorithm and manually within 24 hours.

Best of both worlds

By using our build-in testing suite and its standard safety features you will have a remote testing environment that is secure enough to maintain the integrity of diagnostic and formative tests. And when it comes to summative tests, if you pair our testing module with the added functionalities of ProctorU, you have the closest online simulation of an in-person examination.

Ready to set up secure online testing?

Do you need help setting up secure online testing? We are happy to help. Just drop us a line and we will get back to you.

If not, we are also curious to see what other strategies you have seen when it comes to remote testing. Let us know!

SOWISO is an online learning and testing environment for higher education maths and stats. The platform is used by universities across the globe engaging tens of thousands of students while saving teachers time. The platform, including the testing suite, can be used as a stand alone tool or integrated with an LMS.

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