by Aditi Deokar
March 29, 2021
This year, even with some in-person classes, most exams at BUA and BU have been held remotely to accommodate remote students. I believe that the use of proctoring software such as ExamSoft and Proctorio is a useful way to deter cheating during remote exams.
I will start by sharing how a particular BU professor handled remote exams in one of my classes. Before COVID-19, this professor had used ExamSoft during in-person exams, which he had students take on computers, to speed up grading of multiple-choice exams, increase security by locking down students’ computers, and allow him to better understand the quality of his exam questions with metrics such as point biserial, which, in the context of exams, is used to correlate a student’s answer to a specific question to the student’s exam score as a whole. His exams were open-book and open-note.
During the pandemic, he kept much of this the same but adjusted to students learning remotely. He held exams during a synchronous time slot on ExamSoft and kept them open-book and open-note. However, he ran into some difficulties. For instance, many students only had e-books, so he could not have ExamSoft lock down students’ computers. This allowed students not only to access their e-books, which was allowed, but also to use the Internet, which was not. To deter students from cheating by using the Internet, he had teaching fellows proctor us via Zoom to make sure we were not navigating to other tabs, and we were required to use a computer that showed our whole workspace. Unfortunately, this method ended up being too limited.
Shortly before our third exam, the professor discovered instances of cheating. Some of the questions on previous exams had been posted on the Internet years ago, so a few students were having another person out of view Google each question and tell them the answers while they were taking the exam. The cheating forced the professor to rewrite in the span of a day most of the questions for the third exam, for which we had to keep our microphones unmuted. This was very distracting to some students, especially in another section where a student’s malfunctioning fire alarm went off every few minutes. Had my professor used a proctoring software such as ExamSoft’s ExamMonitor, such incidents would have been flagged by an AI software for review already in the first exam so that he could quickly identify the cheaters and take appropriate action.1 We would not have had the difficulties of keeping microphones unmuted, and he would not have had to rewrite the exam. Personally, I would find using a proctoring software not any more stress-inducing than live proctoring, and I would have been comfortable knowing that cheaters would be effectively detected.
Although the exam was open-book and proctored live, cheating was still a problem in that class. We might, therefore, wonder what is the best course of action for BUA classes. Many BUA classes currently hold open-book or open-note Blackboard exams, often unproctored to allow flexibility in test-taking time, with the hope that a stringent time limit would be enough of a deterrent to cheating. But this strategy still allows students to use the Internet and communicate with others even if they are not supposed to do so, permitting cheating to occur without a means of detecting it. I certainly believe that BUA students are much more academically honest than the cheaters in that BU class. However, it is important to have a means of detecting cheating during exams because if there isn’t one, students can be tempted to cheat simply because they believe everyone else will. Such a means can be found in ExamMonitor or the similar software Proctorio. ExamMonitor is a part of the easy-to-use ExamSoft application, while Proctorio is a browser extension that can be used with any method of test-taking, including Blackboard, so teachers would not need to remake their exams in another application.1,2
Some students might feel that proctoring softwares’ audio and video recording and AI analysis software are a violation of privacy. However, if they were taking the exam in-person, their teachers would be watching them and listening to them the entire time, and if they were taking it via Zoom and their teacher chose to record the meeting, the teacher would also have a recording of their actions the entire time, the same as ExamMonitor or Proctorio does. The AI only speeds up the process by identifying clips that it thinks might be suspicious for teachers to then decide themselves whether to investigate.1 ExamMonitor and Proctorio make the best effort to maintain students’ privacy, and while of course there is some chance that recordings could be leaked, we take that same chance by recording Zoom meetings all the time.3,4 Thus, proctoring softwares such as ExamSoft and Proctorio are viable alternatives to in-person proctoring that can help deter cheating while preserving the flexibility of asynchronous remote exams at BUA.
1 ExamSoft Worldwide LLC. 2021, “Strengthen Exam Integrity with Digital Monitoring,” 2021,
2 Proctorio Inc. 2020, “Proctorio Frequently Asked Questions,” 2020,
4 Proctorio Inc. 2020, “Proctorio: Security Is No Accident,” 2020,