cheating in online assessments

How To Prevent Cheating In Online Assessments

Written By Neha Ahmed

Are candidates likely to cheat on remote unproctored online pre-employment assessments?

The answer is YES! The possibility of cheating in online assessments is there.

In 1973, American criminologist Donald Cressey developed a theory known as the Fraud Triangle, which has three elements: pressure to cheat, opportunity to cheat, and rationalization. A high-stakes situation involving these factors and the absence of proctoring could be conducive to cheating.

Ways Candidates Cheat in Online Assessments

As candidates come up with ingenious ways to cheat during online assessments, it’s about time online tests became equipped with anti-cheating measures to thaw the sneakiest cheating attempts.

Let’s look at some common ways applicants cheat in online assessments:

• Cheating by a proxy test-taker

The first category of cheating is asking a friend or paying a brainiac to take the assessment on your behalf. In fact, a number of available online sites suggest that there is a small industry built around that. While logging in as someone else to help them out may be seemingly innocuous, especially in this age of digital testing, this invalidates the test results. Hence the idea of testing candidates becomes pointless.

• Using external help while taking the assessment

It is common for candidates to gather a group of friends to go through a test together or ask someone to assist them whenever possible. Multiple people argue over the best solution and then the candidate chooses the best answer.

• Opening multiple windows or sharing screen

During online assessments, the candidate has the freedom to make use of multiple windows to access the exam questions and conduct a web search for answers simultaneously. Candidates have also been known to use screen sharing to cheat in tests.

• Disconnecting the internet connection

Many test-takers deliberately disconnect the internet connection midway through a test, so they can retake the test, having seen some of the questions. Later, they start over again to answer all questions correctly.

• Technical manipulation

When giving exams from remote locations, it is easier for candidates to tamper with the assessment’s timers, record the assessment questions or request new login credentials after having seen the test questions.

• Prior knowledge of the test content

Having advanced knowledge of the test’s content is another form of cheating that happens quite often. This usually occurs when one applicant takes the test and passes questions to the other who intends to take it.

How to Use Technology to Prevent Cheating in Online Assessments

As technology evolves, more and more efficient methods are devised to safeguard the integrity of an online remotely administered tests. Let’s look at some technology solutions that can reduce the risk of cheating in online assessments:

• Randomize Question Order

With taking online assessments, applicants are often asked questions in the same sequence, which makes it easier for them to cheat.

However, technology has solved this issue by allowing employers to randomize their questions. Thus, it is no longer possible for candidates to take an employer’s test and then share a ‘master solution’.

Recruiters can use tests that feature randomly-generated questions from large ‘item banks’. Such online assessments are also adaptive, in that they respond to the candidate’s choices. Resultantly, candidates are unlikely to view the same test twice.

• Online ID Authentication

Online ID authentication can help prevent cheating, dissuading impersonators from attempting the test on behalf of the actual candidate. Fortunately, anti-cheating software vendors have come up with multi-level online authentication methods where the candidate’s face is matched with that in the candidate’s submitted ID to ensure legitimacy.

Biometric information is also collected and crosschecked before the test. In fact, even information such as keystroke is used to make sure that the actual test-taker attempts the whole exam without dragging an imposter midway during it.

• Plagiarism Detection Software

In pre-employment programming tests, candidates have been known to use auto coding software to clear the exam. Such software allow candidates to create programs without them having to write a single line of code.        

To deal with this problem, employers can use plagiarism checks in order to identify if the code entered by the applicant is available anywhere on the internet. This can prevent cheating in online assessments, especially for coding and programming tests. For this purpose, tools like MOSS (Measure of Software Similarity), which is an automatic system that detects plagiarism in programming codes, can be used to prevent cheating.  

• Disable Copy-Paste

One of the tactics employers can adopt to prevent cheating in online assessments is disabling the copy-paste feature. This will restrict candidates from copying and pasting data during the test. 

It’s also highly likely that test-takers would try to grab a screenshot of the page, and that is where this feature could come in handy.

• Auto-Proctoring

Another technique that recruiting professionals can use to prevent cheating in online assessments is proctoring. Automated proctoring has become quite popular nowadays as it helps authenticate candidates’ identities with advanced features like face recognition technology. Plus, it can be a robust and economical solution.

In order to detect any suspicious activity that can be construed as cheating, auto proctoring monitors the test-taker’s computer activity via audio and video recording before and during the test. In addition to that, it also includes candidate navigation, mouse tracking, and other critical functions.


The Talent Games’ Approach to Mitigate Cheating in Online Assessments

Fool-Proof Gamified Assessment Design

• Fun and Engaging Recruitment Games

We make recruitment games that are fun and engaging. Thus, individuals want to have a firsthand experience and are therefore naturally not likely to cheat.

• No Right or Wrong Answers

Our behavioral assessments are designed in such a way that they don’t measure a candidate’s ability to give right or wrong answers. Rather, they evaluate their chain of thoughts across a decision tree. Therefore, the player is assessed on a variety of touch points, not just on a single right or wrong answer.

• Time Limitations

Our tests are mostly time bound which leaves limited opportunity for applicants to look for answers or discuss them with others.

• Randomization and Ambiguity

The Talent Games’ gamified cognitive ability and aptitude assessments use objective questions with specific answers. In order to make sure candidates don’t develop a master solution, we randomize the questions so each individual gets a unique question.

• Post-Game Check-Ins

Perhaps the easiest way candidates can trick our gamified assessment is by letting someone else play the game for them.

However, to prevent this sort of cheating in our online assessment, we have put a number of verification measures, such as asking candidates follow up assessment questions at random moments. This ensures that the person that applies is also the person that takes the test.

Anti-Cheating Technology Design

• Preventing Multiple Sign-in

Candidates are known to register for the same campaign multiple times using different temporary email addresses. To cease this practice, we have linked the sign up to our games to verified LinkedIn accounts only. This ensures that each candidate gets one shot to play the game.

• Game Lock-outs

Candidates are often tempted to leave the game midway and search for answers on the internet or ask others for help. To deal with this issue, our games resume from where they were disconnected, preventing candidates from replaying the past sections of the game. 

• Bio-Metric Verification

In order to make sure the applicant is also the person that takes the assessment, we have implemented bio-metric verification through in-game pictures using the device camera and face recognition technology. This way candidates cannot beat our gamified assessment.

Final Words

As test takers come up with clever ways to cheat in the online assessments, it becomes imperative for employers to use online assessments that impose anti-cheating measures and adopt AI-driven proctoring technologies to drive fair talent selection.

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