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Sitting exams is a regular part of the university calendar. And as universities and institutions fill up with digital natives, the usability and user experience of any online exam system used to run summative exams is likely to come under more scrutiny.

It was important to us when we were developing our online exam software – eSystem – that we built an intuitive interface supported by software with a logical workflow and design throughout. We extended this approach to the online portal used by students when sitting exams. We were aiming for the digital experience to be much more than just effective, however. The online experience had to be efficient (afterall most exams are time bound), learnable (had to be able to complete the exam with no previous tuition on how the eSystem exam portal works), memorable (repetitive tasks are easily repeated) and above all, enable students to be satisfied with their experience. As we developed and refined each feature, we put it through extensive usability testing prior to releasing it in the software.

Smart user functionality during multiple choice exams

Using our eSystem software for MCQ exams, it is easy to navigate through questions and flag them as required using the progress panel. The sort function allows you to see quickly all flagged questions, questions that have been missed, questions that have been answered and so on. And hovering over any question in the progress panel highlights the first few words of the question, saving you time when looking for a specific question.

Additionally you can highlight and strike through question and answer copy in a similar way to working in a paper exam – and this marked up copy is saved to revisit at another time. When using pictures or diagrams, for example, you can select them and zoom in/out of each picture with the related question sitting alongside. The indepth visibility of the image and question simultaneously means that you don’t lose precious time moving between screens.

Visible exam time management

If managing time during an exam is a challenge, then the countdown clock can be activated so that it is highly visible on the exam interface throughout the exam. And should you experience a loss of data during the exam or battery failure for example, the examiner has the option to give all candidates some extra time (which adjusts the countdown clock) or to just give selected candidates extra time.

All these features were subject to our usability testing prior to launch. However, we’d love to hear your experience sitting an exam using eSystem software too – get in touch today.