How to make sure students taking mock exams online won't cheat

(Para português, clique aqui.)

One of the hardest things about applying online mock exams or progress tests is making sure students won't cheat. I often offer IELTS mock exams to my students, and the frequency with which they either confess they have done that or it is obvious because I know their level of English is shocking.

Bearing that in mind, I decided to create what I like to call "The Honesty Solution": a series of steps you can take to mitigate the chance of your student cheating. Well, for every problem there has to be a solution. The combination between Google Classroom and Zoom Meetings might be just what you need to make sure they will follow the rules and won't waste your time and theirs.

Here's how I do it with IELTS/TOEFL mock exams:

1. Create a Google Classroom for the test and invite them to join 

All you both will need is a gmail account. Here's mine:

IELTS Google classroom mock test

2. Schedule the test

Choose a time when you are planning to be online so you can keep an eye on them. You won't need to dedicate 100% of your attention, just sneak a peak from time to time. I often book them for the same times as my regular classes or when I'm writing on my blog or when I am on train/bus.

3. Save all material you'll use as drafts

They are not supposed to see the test before the day, but if you share them on an email they WILL read. Students can only see published posts on Google Classroom, so you can have everything ready as drafts and let them have access to it when you want.  Here's what my student can't see:

Sharing materials google classroom

4. A day before before the test, share the answer sheets with them

Share the answer sheets with instructions for printing in advance. They should have it ready at the time of the test.  

I also let them know if they want a paper version of the test they have to have a working printer at the time of the exam. If a student doesn't have a printer but still wants paper, you can also charge for printing the exam yourself and send it over to them on the mail. If you do so, make sure you let them know they can only open the envelope when you two meet online. Otherwise, the test will be invalid.

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5. Invite them to a video Zoom Meeting

If they haven't downloaded Zoom yet, have them do it prior to the test. At the arranged time, invite them to have a meeting with you. That's how you are going to interact with them during the test.

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6. Tell them to put their phone away

And yes, I ask for proof that they have done it. 

7.  Have them share their video + desktop with you

Let them know as of this moment you can see everything they are doing on the computer/cell phone and around the room. If they open a web page, you will see. If they get up, you will see. If they talk to someone, you will see. You are now the Big Brother:

8. Post the section of the exam or the entire exam for printing

I like to post sections just to make sure they abide by the time constraints IELTS poses. Giving them access to the entire exam could potentially have them organize time in a different way from what's expected, which ultimately results in a less genuine experience. Therefore, I go bit by bit:




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8. When they are back, get permission to remote control their screen on Zoom

You will play the audio from their computer, making sure they won't pause nor repeat. You can teach another class while doing it and just keep an eye on how far the listening has gone so you know when you should play the next track or finish. 

NOTE: Do NOT play the audio from your computer, as sometimes google classroom integrates audio poorly and you have a higher chance of facing technical problems. 

9. Turn off your audio and video but keep theirs on

By doing so you are free to watch Netflix teach another class or even leave the room. They won't see nor hear what you are doing, which means they will be aware you can catch them red handed at any time. Let them know about that. 

And here's how I've repurposed to an old tablet I had:

Using tablets for tests ielts Toefl

10. Once they are finished, have them photograph the answer sheet

They have to do it immediately. If it's a writing task and they might need time to scan, have them send the photo of the answer immediately and then scan so that you make sure there won't be any revision going on. 

WhatsApp IELTS TOEFL tests

There you go!