Exam.net is turning 8 years and I am humbled by the fact that over 40 million exams have been conducted through Exam.net over the years. While Exam.net can be used for many types of assessments, one of our core use cases is nationwide high-stakes exams, conducted every spring in Sweden for students between grade 3 and high school.
National Exams in Sweden are conducted across many subjects and grades. It’s mandatory to conduct some of these exams on a digital device and the Swedish National Agency for Education has a large set of requirements on an online exams platform used for these high stakes exams, like accommodation tools and anonymization.
How Exam.net is used for National Exams
Being one of the most important exams for a student during the year, there are of course high demands on security, robustness and ease of use of the tool used for these exams. Exam.net has managed to live up to those expectations and is one of the most used online platforms for national exams in Sweden and is used for exams across many subjects from languages to math and natural sciences.
grade 9 students used Exam.net for the national exam in English in spring 2023
high school students used Exam.net for the national exam in Swedish in spring 2023
→ This corresponds to more than ⅓ of all students in Sweden taking these exams
Exam.net – platform for conducting high-stakes exams
There are a few different ways Exam.net is used for national exams, either the whole exam is written in Exam.net or the exam is conducted on paper but Exam.net provides a secure access to tools and resources needed during the exam.
Exams written in Exam.net
The most common is that the exam is written/conducted through Exam.net. By using high security mode that locks down your screen, the students are prevented from accessing the internet (including things like Chat GPT) and other tools on their computers. At the same time, you can enable access to accommodation tools, like text-to-speech, dictionary and spell check. All of these can be enabled for the whole class or for specific individuals.
Exam.net has been used for national exams in Sweden since 2018 so we’ve gotten a lot of input and feedback and have done our best to develop the platform further based on that. Two features that became beloved by our users are the chat function and real time monitoring.
- The built-in chat provided a much needed opportunity for the teacher and the student to communicate without disturbing the rest of the exam takers. It also helps the more shy students that don’t want to raise their hand, to get the help they need.
- Through our Monitoring view a teacher can see how the exam progresses for each student in real time. That helps to identify who is stuck and help them to proceed.
Powerful tool right in your exam window
While the national exams in Math are done with pen and paper for the time being, there is a clear use case for Exam.net for those exams as well. Previously, it was very difficult to provide students with access to advanced math tools, like Geogebra and Desmos without risking them also accessing other tools and content, and not being able to ensure academic integrity of the exam. Exam.net solves this by providing these (and many other tools) within the interface of a locked down screen. So even for the exams conducted on paper, Exam.net has a clear value add and is used extensively during national exams.
Another positive outcome of this is that the students don’t need to invest in advanced and expensive calculators – they are all available as a part of Exam.net.
Simple yet powerful
Robustness and ease of use are two of the most important requirements of an online tool used for summative high stakes exams. An exam of this caliber can induce stress and anxiety in both students and exam supervisors alike. So as a teacher/supervisor you want to feel confident that the technology you use is easy to navigate and will not fail if something goes wrong.
Many of us that develop Exam.net are former teachers so we understand these needs and have built Exam.net with those realities in mind. We are striving to remove the unnecessary complexity. One example being the fact that you don’t create student accounts at Exam.net – hence there is no risk of a student forgetting a password right before the exam starts. And when it comes to robustness, Exam.net is built to handle all kinds of unpredictable circumstances. You can continue writing and submitting your exam offline if wifi goes down and if a computer breaks, a student can pick up where he/she left off on another device.
It’s not unusual that more than 50 000 exams are started and conducted on the same day, as in the case with Swedish national exams. The thing that makes national exams special is that they all start at the exact same time. This puts high demand on the resilience and scalability of technology – and after many years in business we are confident in our ability to live up to the expectations.