Top tips for securing your exam questions

Exam questions are extremely valuable which is why it is essential to keep them secure.  Here are five tips which we have gathered from 14 years experience of delivering secure exams, which you can put in place to maximise the security of your questions.

1. Don’t email your exam questions or exam paper

Once you’ve created a question it is important to have it reviewed by others, but don’t email the question to a reviewer, even in a password protected document. This is not secure as it leaves files as attachments lying around in multiple inboxes which is a hacker’s dream. What’s the alternative? Creating and storing your questions in a question bank. This not only provides you with a much higher level of encryption but can also allow you to track who is viewing what. If using a digital question bank, ensure that it allows you to set different access permissions for different users. This adds another level of protection as you can manage who has permission to view or edit your questions. For example, you might only want your external examiners to view a single question, whereas your internal staff may have access to some question banks but not others.

 

2. Know how to generate secure passwords

We often advise our customers that their data is only as strong as their weakest password. Make sure you don’t use the same passwords for multiple applications. If you have trouble remembering numerous passwords use a secure password manager. Good practice for generating a secure password is to create a sentence and turn it into a nine character password. For an example of this method and some great advice see Bruce Schneier’s article on Choosing a secure password.

 

3. Use encrypted USB drive

If you need to work on an exam paper while out of the office, make sure that you store any documents that you wouldn’t want to be seen by others on an encrypted USB drive. So even if you did accidentally leave it on the train or in a café, others wouldn’t be able to gain access to it.

 

4. Randomise questions to obstruct cheating

Passing answers to other students by coughing or knocking on the table is one of the various ways that students can cheat within exams. How can you prevent this tactic from working? Randomise the delivery of your questions. With digital exam software, the system can deliver questions in a randomised order for every single candidate. In addition to this, examination software can help detect suspicious behaviour by monitoring students and highlighting trends in answering questions correctly or incorrectly.  

 

5. Count exam papers carefully

How do you know that you’ve collected every paper back in after an exam? It might sound simple but candidates have been known to leave with an entire exam booklet of questions.  By delivering exams digitally you can remove the possibility of this happening. 

 

These are only a few ways in which you can start to protect your questions. If you would like more advice or would like to find out how highly secure, digital exam software like Maxexam could help you to improve your security please call us today 0117 428 0550 or fill in our contact form