5 Tips to secure your exam questions

It is worrying when news reports are released on questions being leaked to students such as the iGCSE exam leak in Egypt. Can we do more to protect our questions and ensure fair exams for candidates?

Here are five tips which we have gathered from 10 years experience of delivering secure exams, which you can put into place to maximise the security of your questions.

1.Don’t email your exam questions or exam paper

Once you’ve created a question it is important to have it reviewed by others, but don’t email the question to a reviewer, even in a password protected document. This is not secure as it leaves files as attachments lying around in multiple inboxes which is a hacker’s dream. What’s the alternative? Creating and storing your questions in a question bank. This not only provides you with a much higher level of encryption but can also allow you to track who is viewing what. If using a digital question bank, ensure that it allows you to set different access permissions for different users. This adds another level of protection as you can manage who has permission to view or edit your questions. For example, you might only want your external examiners to view a single question, whereas your internal staff may have access to some question banks but not others.

2.Know how to generate secure passwords

We often advise our customers that their data is only as strong as the weakest password. Make sure you don’t use the same passwords for multiple applications. If you have trouble remembering numerous passwords use a secure password manager.  A good practice for generating a secure password is to create a sentence and turn it into a nine character password. For an example of this method and some great advice see Bruce Schneier’s article on Choosing a secure password.

3.Use encrypted USB drive

If you need to work on an exam paper while out of the office, make sure that you store any documents that you wouldn’t want to be seen by others on an encrypted USB drive. So even if you did accidentally leave it on the train or in a café, others wouldn’t be able to gain access to it.

4.Randomise questions to obstruct cheating

Passing answers to other students by coughing or knocking on the table is one of the various ways that students can cheat within exams. How can you prevent this tactic from working? Randomise the delivery of your questions. With a computerised exam, the system can deliver questions in a randomised order for every single candidate.

5.Count exam papers carefully

How do you know you’ve collected every paper back in after an exam? It might sound simple but candidates have been known to leave with an entire exam booklet of questions.  Why not remove the possibility of this happening by delivering exams digitally.

These are only a few ways in which you can start to protect your questions. If you would like more advice or would like to find out how a highly secure, computerised examination system like Maxexam could help you to improve your security please call us today 01275 331 901 or fill in our contact form.