23rd July 2023
In Singapore, more national examinations are now being conducted electronically, doing away with the need for physical writing of scripts and the usage of pen and paper. To date, 60 GCE examination papers are now in electronic mode.
Student competencies such as critical and inventive thinking are better assessed through e-exams with the use of multimedia, as compared with pen-and-paper examinations.
In 2021, the introduction of the Personalised Digital Learning Programme ensured that every secondary school student owned a school-prescribed personal learning device (PLD). This necessitated a shift in the way lessons are designed and enacted, so that students would make use of their PLDs in their classroom learning.
Each e-exam mode has innovative features that provide an engaging examination experience. For some examinations, it will also be easier for candidates to edit and organise their responses. They can make use of the editing features – cut, copy and paste functions – and not have to worry about untidy cancellations or illegible handwriting.
The use of multimedia allows questions to be set with authentic and real-life contexts, which test important disciplinary knowledge and skills. It would be difficult to set similar questions in a pen-and-paper format.
E-exams make assessments more accessible for students with disabilities. One example is candidates who require larger font sizes due to their visual impairment. This can be facilitated through the use of zoom and text-to-speech software in e-exams.
Such exams also boost efficiency, by removing certain administrative processes in paper-based examinations. These include printing question papers, transporting them to and from examination venues, and collecting and counting them at the end of an examination.
Technical issues, such as Internet connectivity problems or computer glitches, can disrupt the examination experience. To address this, there are resiliency features to safeguard examination candidates’ responses. One of these is an automatic save function at multiple locations, including candidates’ laptops and the government cloud, during the e-exams. If there is a disruption, candidates’ responses can be restored easily. Should there be a network or power failure, candidates can continue their examination on laptops with battery packs.