Learn about different anti-cheat methods and how to implement them on a Synap Exam
Anti-cheat features are a low cost and effective way to make it harder for candidates to cheat. And unlike proctoring options there are no requirements on your user to install or set up anything. Anti-cheat features are great for high-stakes exams and even on low stakes practice exams and tests employing anti-cheat methods early is a good way to prepare your users for the real exam.
🧐 "A thing worth having is a thing worth cheating for." - W.C Fields
How to mitigate
Looking up answers
Includes searching online for answers or using books and other external resources
Messaging other candidates for answers to a particular question
Use someone else to sit the exam
Paying for a service or allowing another candidate to do their exam
Proctoring is how you catch cheating, anti-cheat methods are how you make it harder for someone to cheat. This article is going to focus on anti-cheat features, for more about using proctoring on Synap see this article
- 1.Time limits
- 2.Disable copy & paste
- 4.Unique exams variations (Dynamic)
- 5.Manual reviews
- 6.Identity verification
- 7.IP Address restriction
- 8.Resume attempt settings
Setting a time limit for the exam makes it more difficult to cheat via looking up answers or collusion as the user doesn't have much time to search, find, message or wait for a response. Using strict timed sections on Synap means once a user has submitted a section they cannot go back to questions in that section.
Submitting a timed section
A simple light touch way to mitigate cheating is disabling a users ability to copy the questions and then paste answers into free text boxes. This can be configured on the quiz or exam settings.
You can enable: answer options shuffling, question order shuffling and section order shuffling on exams and quizzes. This makes collusion difficulty because question 1, isn't always question 1 and option a, isn't always option a.
Use Synap's dynamic exam generation feature to create unique exams for each candidate in an exam based off a set of rules. This makes it very difficult for candidates to collude with one another as they'll all have slightly different questions.
Taking an example of a 12 question exam could have a really simple set of rules and a bank of questions:
- 5 questions from Biology (out of a total 10 questions)
- 4 questions from Chemistry (out of a total 10 questions)
- 3 questions from Physics (out of a total 10 questions)
Using dynamic exams this could give millions of slightly different exams!
Once an exam is done use the export and reporting features on Synap to look at the data, find anomalies. The platform lets you do exam practice and mocks with candidates before their exam to find specific patterns for people.
You can use free text questions on Synap to create a question to ask candidates to take a photo of themselves during an exam. For additional security ask them to hold up a photo or student ID. More on creating webcam questions
You can restrict your exams to a specific IP address, or a set of IP addresses using our IP restriction feature, which can be accessed from Exams > Advanced > Security > Restrict by IP.
IP restriction will mean that candidates can only enter the exam if they are accessing from a particular location that you have specified. This can be helpful if, for example you are running a test in a physical test centre, or if you need to ensure that your exam cannot be accessed in certain countries/regions.
When you enable this section, a box will appear which you can use to enter IPs which you want to allow. You should type in 1x IP address per line.
When enabling this feature, there are a few things you may want to bear in mind:
- Most people's home networks will use dynamic IPs, this means that their IP address will change periodically. For this reason, if you are conducting a remote exam to be taken from candidate's own homes/devices, this option is probably not suitable for you
- If your users are using VPNs, then this may affect the IP that they are connecting from
We strongly recommend testing this feature out, by assigning an exam to your internal team or admins, prior to launching it with real students. Whilst the feature itself is very simple to set up, if the IPs are not set-up correctly, or if there are unexpected proxies/VPNs in-use on your network, then this could have a significant impact.
If you are in doubt, speak to your IT team who should be able to advise on the IP addresses / CIDR ranges to use, or feel free to get in touch with our support team for further advice.
Example of an exam with Restrict by IP enabled. The first IP line shows a specific IPv4 address, and the second line uses CIDR notation to specify a block of IPs from 192.0.2.0 to 192.0.2.24. Candidates will only be allowed into the exam if they are accessing it from one of these IPs
Exam that can't be entered as it is being accessed from a non approved IP address
You can use the Resume Attempt settings to specify when, or if, candidates should be allowed to resume an exam attempt, once it has been started. The options you can choose from are shown below:
Always allowed (default)
Candidates can start and resume their attempt, with no restrictions
Candidates can resume their attempt, but only from the same device and network that they started it on
Candidates cannot resume their attempt once it has started
🚨 "Never" is a very strict setting that means that a candidate will be kicked out of the exam if they refresh their browser - we only recommend using this in very high-stakes situations, or where you have complete control over the exam environment. "Same session" should provide a strong level of security for most situations, whilst also providing some flexibility for computer crashes or other unexpected situations
All the methods above are easy to use and on their will mitigate some candidates cheating, but using them together they become much more effective for example having a dynamic exam with strict timed sections thats shuffled.
🚨 Whenever a candidate needs to install anything on a device they must have admin access to their computer. This not a problem for personal computers but can cause problems on work / school devices. Keep this in mind when scheduling proctored exams as additional time may be needed to contact IT departments.