Online proctoring has revolutionized the way high-stakes tests like the Duolingo English Test are administered and supervised. By eliminating the geographical and logistical barriers associated with traditional test centers, online proctoring makes high-stakes testing more accessible to a global audience, ensuring security and convenience simultaneously.

How does online proctoring work?

At Duolingo, our approach to online proctoring marries human expertise with AI's power. Unlike traditional in-person proctoring, where someone supervises an exam in person, online proctoring employs advanced technology, including AI, to monitor test takers remotely. 

Each test session is recorded using a computer, microphone, keyboard, and mouse. Once a test taker uploads their session, it is first reviewed by our AI algorithm for potential signs of rule breaking or malicious behavior. At this stage, we leverage a sophisticated combination of statistics, computer vision, and natural language processing algorithms to analyze over 75 different behavioral and environmental factors. 

Then the test session is reviewed by  human proctors, who use the AI flags and their own judgment to determine whether any rules have been broken, before arriving at a certification decision. Once a test is certified, results become available and can be shared with institutions. Thanks to AI, this entire process takes only 48 hours—traditional exams can take up to two weeks to deliver scores.

How do online proctored exams detect cheating?

Online proctored exams are able to leverage AI algorithms to flag potential rule breaking suspicious behaviors. The DET’s proctoring focuses on over 75 different behavioral and environmental factors to detect potential security breaches or rule breaking—for instance, accessing prohibited materials, having someone else in the room, or attempting to use external devices. 

The system is designed to recognize and flag any such activities for the human proctors who review every test session. This partnership between AI and human judgment makes it extremely difficult for test takers to engage in dishonest practices without being caught.

How is AI used in online exams?

AI's role in proctoring is not to replace humans, but to assist and enhance human proctors by flagging potential issues for review. The integration of AI in online proctoring is a game-changer. By automating the initial stages of the proctoring process, AI enables a more rapid review of test sessions while maintaining high accuracy levels. 

Test scores are the product of a meticulously supervised process in which humans always make the final decisions, but have access to tools they can use to ensure each test session gets a careful review.

Are online exams as secure as in-person? 

Unlike in a test center, where one proctor is often responsible for supervising dozens of test takers at once, online proctoring with AI offers a more comprehensive oversight mechanism. Recording and then reviewing each test session, rather than supervising many exams at once, allows for a level of detail and vigilance that human proctors in a physical setting may lack, and ensures that every test taker’s session is thoroughly, individually supervised. 

This approach has many advantages over in-person tests. Because each test session is discretely proctored, rule breaking by an individual test-taker does not impact the validity of other tests. Proctors remain anonymous to test takers throughout the review process, ensuring that they are not subject to influence or bias. Test takers sit the exam alone in a quiet room, free from the distractions of other test takers. 

Test with less stress. 

This enhanced security also reduces the stress and anxiety often associated with test-taking, as students can take their exams in a familiar and comfortable environment. Beyond maintaining the integrity and security of exams like the DET, online proctoring makes high-stakes testing more accessible and less stressful for test takers around the world!

For a deep-dive into remote proctoring, check out our research team's latest article in Educational Measurement, Issues and Practice!