Maxexam - The future for questions
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Background

In the past, dental students at King’s College London sat their high stakes multiple choice question (MCQ) exams on printed exam papers that were then scanned and marked. This format had implications for the types of questions that could be asked, limited the use of images and cost in administration time in getting the exam papers printed and scanned.

Following a pilot that Maxinity were running on Maxexam with The Royal College of Surgeons, Maxinity was asked to develop their system to administer the exams. King’s were looking for a system that was both much more flexible than their current arrangement and online.

As soon as they started the process they realised that one of the biggest issues of having online exam software was security and Maxexam was the only company that could both run computer-based exams and also meet the high levels of security required for these high stakes professional exams.

Current Situation

Improved flexibility and speed

Maxinity won the pitch and the system was introduced in 2005.

The software has given King’s greater flexibility in the types of question they can set – meaning they have been able to introduce new types of questions including extended matching and multiple answer types and also images.

As the students leave the room the system has already calculated the marks – enabling the examiners to have the results much quicker and understand how individuals have done.

The system also means it is much easier for King’s to arrange a retake for a small group of students - all they need is a room and a few computers and they are able to organise and administer an exam very quickly and easily.

Better and more secure exams

From an examination setting point of view the system enables King’s to better track the questions used via the question banking system – enabling them to ensure that questions are not used too often. It also allows them to see easily which questions are more discriminating.

The system has also been able to meet the need for security – and in fact the feedback from the students themselves (once they have sat an exam) has been that they feel more confident that the exams are fair and that the papers won't have leaked into the public domain before they have taken them – which, while it may have been unfounded, was a concern for them in the past.

'We require our high stakes exams to be very secure as the consequences for the student of failing them (having to go back a year) are serious. The Maxexam system offers us a very robust and secure system which also makes our job easier and which the students recognise as fair too.'

Edward Odell, Professor of Oral Pathology and Medicine, King’s College London.