Maxexam - The future for questions
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Background

The ORE Part 2 exam is a clinical exam run by the Consortium on behalf of the GDC.  The dental manikin component involves testing candidates’ operative skills by asking them to perform three procedures over three hours on a dental manikin.

During the re-negotiation of the contract in 2011, the Consortium was asked to look at electronic recording of examiners’ marks.  The Consortium explored several software suppliers and, from these, selected Maxinity to progress this as they were able to offer this facility on tablet computers.

The system was piloted towards the end of 2013, with its first full use in the January 2014 exam.  The Consortium was understandably cautious, and so had paper back-ups ready for each of the four components of the exam, but these were not required except where a very last minute modification needed to be made to one of the exams.

Current situation

Simple and popular with examiners

The system was taken up quickly by the examiners – as many of them were already experienced with touchscreens on their telephones or tablets, so they found it easy to adapt to the new technology. When the system was first trialled some examiners were asked to use paper marking for a second set of students, having used tablets for the first, and they really did not want to go back to the paper version.

The examiners find the system to be quick to use, meaning that they get to see more of the exam as they spend less time actually recording their assessments – as now they just need to touch the screen rather than putting ticks or crosses in the right place on paper examination sheets. At the same time, the system will not let examiners progress until all questions have been marked, which ensures a fully completed paper.

Maxinity provides the tablets for the Consortium pre-loaded with the software, which means everything is ready to go immediately at the beginning of the examination.

Continuous development

The Consortium has been using Maxexam for all the exams over the last six months (6 complete exams). In that time the system has been constantly improved in response to comments and requests for further functionality. For example, statistical analysis of questions has been added and is being extended to make analysis of results even easier.

Faster, better analysis …….. leading to improved examinations 

Prior to the introduction of Maxinity it was time consuming activity to produce and collate results, as marks had to be transcribed manually. It could take until the following week to have a complete set of results.

Now, the marks can be uploaded the same evening as the examination, if required, so that the results are ready to be checked before the weekend is out.

Additional features added have allowed the Board to see both how individual questions and individual examiners have performed. This means it is much easier to review questions and their performance.

Going electronic has also meant that the Consortium have managed to vastly decrease the need for paper records – there is a requirement to keep completed exam papers for at least a year, but now these are kept in electronic format by Maxinity.

 

'The introduction of  Maxexam has made the collation of information to produce exam results simpler and quicker, leading to results being available sooner and making analysis of how the different questions perform much easier. At the same time we have been delighted with how examiners have adapted to the system and the feedback to us has been that they prefer examining using the Maxexam system.' 

Dr Peter Howell, Chair of Examination Board and Lead for Dental Manikin component of ORE Part 2 exam.