The SAFE (Smart, Authenticated Fast Exams) system was used successfully in May 2019 by the Department of IEOR (Industrial Engineering and Operations Research) at IIT Bombay, for the pre-interview screening of candidates appearing for admission to its MTech program. This brief write-up is an experience report on how SAFE effectively achieved its goals of easy setup, secure and cheating-free exam, robust and scalable operation, for this exam.
On the day before the exam, a short meeting was held in which the authorities conducting the exam, including invigilators, were given a demo of SAFE usage.
We then created the necessary accounts on our server for each candidate, and the system sent each candidate an email with his/her account information. Candidates were also instructed to bring their own smart-phone, as one of the ease-of-use features of SAFE.
The necessary exams were uploaded on the SAFE server beforehand.
Half an hour before the exam, a total of about 250 candidates were seated across 6 exam rooms. Candidates marked their attendance using the SAFE app. They then were asked to spend a few minutes attempting a demo exam, to get familiar with the app prior to the actual exam.
Conduction of Exam
A separate instance of the same exam was used independently in each exam room. On exam start, candidates could start marking their answers on the SAFE app. The SAFE server dashboard was used to monitor the number of candidates in each room, as well as to check whether any candidate was attempting to cheat (there were no such attempts however).
While a few candidates completed their exam before time, the others’ submissions came to our server from the candidates’ SAFE apps, when the exam duration of 90 minutes was over. There were a few instances where the candidates’ phone’s network connection failed at the time of submission. SAFE’s robustness features helped here, and the candidates were allowed to leave the room only after their network connection was restored, and their submission was successfully received at our server.
The SAFE exam results were available instantly, for the authorities to download from our server. Post the exam, the conducting authorities also wanted to correct the answer key of two questions, as well as cancel a question altogether. These too were possible instantly.