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Online proctoring, where someone takes a test under video observation at home or in the office, remains a necessary service. With the pandemic continuing in most countries and with concern about climate change reducing travel, there is a huge increase in online learning and training – which requires commensurate online assessment.

For most test takers, being able to take a test at home is a great convenience. You don’t have to travel to a testing center. You can schedule the test at a time that works (e.g. for parents when their children are asleep). And you can use your own computer that you are familiar with.

But test takers also need their results to be accepted by the wider community. Tests and exams contribute to qualifications and certifications and it is in the interests of all test takers and wider society that these are trustworthy.


In Peter Pan, every time a child says, “I don’t believe in fairies”, there’s a fairy somewhere that falls down dead. Similarly, in testing, every time someone cheats at a test, a little bit of the validity and trustworthiness of that test for everyone else diminishes.

It is in the benefit of all test takers that tests and exams have integrity and so that we can all trust and take action on the results. Online proctoring is one of the best ways of ensuring such integrity remains for exams taken remotely. But because you are taking video pictures of people at home, anyone involved in organizing online proctoring does need to make sure that test taker privacy is respected.

Online proctoring is compatible with the GDPR and with privacy laws in countries outside Europe. But if you do it, you need to make a fair balance between security and privacy. A key start is to begin with the premise that testing is a partnership between test taker and test sponsor – and that it is in both partners’ interests for testing to have integrity and to deliver fair and equitable results.

There is more that you may need to do, especially if you are testing in Europe, but here are five key things to look at:

  1. Be open and transparent with test-takers. Share in advance why you are doing proctoring, what information you capture, how long you keep it with and what you do with it.
  2. Don’t use data collected during proctoring for purposes other than test review and integrity.
  3. If you record a video as part of your proctoring, set a retention period for the video which you can justify based on a fair balance between data protection and security. (And delete the footage after the retention period has passed.)
  4. Adopt a fair policy on how to respond to requests from test takers, for example, if they want a copy of their personal data or if they want to delete it.
  5. Adopt good security practices – both within your organization and in the vendors you choose so as to protect test taker data.

For more advice and detailed suggestions, check out “Privacy Guidance When Using Video in the Testing Industry” from the ATP, available at https://www.testpublishers.org/book-store.

If you are considering using Questionmark online proctoring, you will find our best practice guidance for those using Questionmark solutions at https://qmold.questionmark.com/platform-services/proctoring/data-protection-and-proctoring-best-practice/.

And if you’d like a demo of how Questionmark can help you deliver effective tests and exams online, go to https://qmold.questionmark.com/demo.

Posted by John Kleeman

John is the Founder of Questionmark. He wrote the first version of the Questionmark assessment software system and then founded Questionmark in 1988 to market, develop and support it. John has been heavily involved in assessment software development for over 30 years and has also participated in several standards initiatives.