More preventive measures needed in India to stop high-stakes cheating, says Britt of Prometric

Admissions to higher education institutions of excellence in India is often reliant on high-stakes testing. At the top are some of the most competitive exams like Common Admissions Test (CAT) for Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) for Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). Then there are many more exams for different professions and states. More recently, a scams in the state of Madhya Pradesh exposed system-level corruption with more than 2,000 students estimated to have cheated their way into coveted medical colleges. Here is an interview with Wade Britt, Country Manager, Prometric Testing Services Pvt. Ltd., India, a test development and delivery provider. Prometric is a wholly owned, independently operated subsidiary of Educational Testing Service.

Wade Britt is the Country Manager for Prometric Testing Services Pvt. Ltd in India. He has extensive international experience in operations and sales in the education, technology and logistics sectors. Prior to Prometric, Wade had worked with Open English, Kaplan University and DHL. He holds a  master’s degree in International Business and a bachelor’s degree from University of South Carolina.

Rahul- What are the reasons for high-stakes cheating in India? Based on Prometric’s global experiences, is it more than other countries?

Wade- Cheating in India is comparable to other countries. Any high stakes exam has a built-in incentive to attract cheats. Where an exam can better one’s life, increase ones earnings or differentiate one from the crowd, there will be people that will try to achieve these accomplishments through fraud rather than effort. What is perhaps more specific to India is that there needs to be more attention given to how cheating can be stopped. Prometric takes a bigger view on preventing cheating’s effects and dissects the complete examination process.

We write and administer test questions in ways that prevent cheating while keeping the test fair. We use data protection and encryption that prevents unauthorized access to exam content and renders it entirely unreadable should a breach occur. We can analyse candidate behavior during exams and identify patterns indicating someone is cheating or attempting to steal content. In the event someone thinks they’ve succeeded, we will have recorded the entire event and be able to draw upon it as evidence later during legal proceedings.

We operate solely to help honest test takers succeed and our international testing expertise brings lessons learned that allow us to remain ahead of cheating attempts.

Rahul- How can these incidences of cheating minimized? Any examples from other countries?

Wade- Securing exams and protecting honest test takers from unearned scores requires a global perspective and involves multiple processes that are required at every step of the way to ensure the sanctity of the test and a fair result for all candidates. What is often reported in the media is the point in the process where test takers are at a test centre, but that is only one part of a comprehensive process. Prometric has a process for securing exams that has proven effective in all countries we operate, and our performance in India has, without question, protected our clients and every honest candidate from cheating.

Denying the cheats starts back at the time of test creation. For example, are the questions valid and fair? Are they written by subject matter experts guided by testing professionals? Are the questions secure? Assuming the test has safely reached a testing location, you then have physical methods of security-high proctor (supervisor) to candidate ratios, video surveillance for record keeping, biometric identification to eliminate “proxy exam takers” and physical checks to detect hidden objects used to cheat. And then, there is the post exam process. Are the results secure and safe from interference? Are the results published by a reputable third party?

There are many measures we take throughout the testing lifecycle. No single solution at a single point in time can address the risk of cheating. Prometric specializes in high security for high stakes exams based upon our decades of experience and expertise along with stringent testing standards that are uniformly high across the globe.

Rahul- Please provide a brief background of Prometric Testing Services’ engagement in India and what are the strategic priorities for next three years?

Wade- Prometric tests several million candidates a year on behalf of our clients – locally and globally Our priority has been and will continue to be to provide honest test takers fair, reliable and valid exams to help them in their career and personal goals. Our global reach benefits India by bringing people access to exams they want in order to find career opportunities, such as TOEFL and foreign medical licensing exams. Our strategy for the next three years is to help people earn the test scores they need to gain better job prospects and higher incomes, and we are committed to helping all candidates have fair opportunities.