How are Computer Based Assessments Better Than Paper Based Assessments?

Computer Based Assessments Computers and technology have impacted almost every industry across the globe. One specific area that has experienced substantial change in the education industry. 

The pace at which the process of teaching, assessing and learning has evolved is enough to signify the impact. Books have moved to ebooks, physical classrooms have turned into online classrooms, and paper-based tests have become online tests.  

For a very long time, until the arrival of computers, paper-based tests were the only method of assessment available to educators & instructors. 

Educators and instructors would jot down a set of questions on a paper and then distribute these papers to the learners, wait for them to complete and submit the test before the instructors can grade the tests, write feedback and prepare reports. 

It was a time-consuming activity. 

assessmentsImage source: The University of Maine

It was only when technology based assessment systems arrived that the idea of pen and paper assessments became redundant and slowly gave way to a better, more effective system of assessment. 

Compelling features such as accessibility, scalability, and security make online computer-based assessments the most desirable and this is the main reason for their wide adoption. And why not? A machine can now do everything that instructors used to do before, allowing them to focus on the more important tasks on hand.

But what is a computer-based assessment? How does it work? What are the advantages of using this type of testing? Let’s try answering each question one after another.

What Is a Computer Based Assessment?

In simple terms, computer based assessment is the practice of assigning quizzes and tests to learners on a computer instead of paper. Computer based assessment is already used widely in many eLearning environments. 

For example, the last time you took a written driver’s test you probably used a computer. 

This type of test is also being used in schools, starting as early as third grade, often to deliver standardized tests, as well as in colleges and universities and in employee training programs.
How to Create an Online Quiz in Under 5 Mins

Having said that, not all computer based assessments are online assessments

Types of Computer Based Test

It is quite obvious that assessments which run on computers are computer-based assessments. But, here’s what confuses many people - all assessments are online. 

Many people would ask - what is computer based testing? Is it always online? 

No, it is not. There are two types of computer based tests or assessments - online & offline. 

Offline assessments: Let us begin with offline assessments. These are the assessments that are created on a computer-based test software and are available only on a single device.

These tests are offline, so a single set of tests cannot be taken on two devices simultaneously and the responses are stored in a database. The grades are assigned manually and the reports are prepared much later. 

Online assessments: Online assessments or online computer based tests are created using an online assessment software so they can be taken anytime, anywhere, and on any device. 

Online assessment in education is vital since a single set of tests or assessments can be attempted on many devices at the same time. The answers can be automatically graded and the responses are stored in auto-generated reports. 


Read More:- The Five Steps to Creating an Online Assessment


The reports can be visited anytime by instructors to review individual or group performances. You can easily create reports using an online assessment tool. 

Teachers can explore these online assessment examples to inculcate an online computer based tests practice in students.

How Does a Computer Based Online Assessment Work?

Online computer based assessment is a broad term that encompasses several different types of testing tools and technologies. 

One of the most common tools is a computer based assessment software in which an instructor uses a web-based assessment software to develop a test. 

Then, the instructor provides a link to the students who take the test online. The online assessment creator automatically takes care of all of the administrative tasks—tracking who has completed the test, collecting data such as how much time students spend on each question, and even grading the tests and providing feedback to the students. 


Read More:- What is Educational Assessment and Why is it Necessary


Advantages of Computer Based Examination

Well, any feature that makes the task of assessing someone easier and accurate is considered an advantage. Check out some of the primary advantages listed below: 

✓ Efficiency 

It takes less time for teachers to prepare, distribute, and grade online tests compared to  paper tests. Also, it is easily scalable, whether you’re assessing 20 students or 2,000.

✓ Convenience 

Students can take the assessment at a convenient time and place they choose, rather than having to take it at a fixed schedule.

Automatic scoring with instant feedback

A computer can automatically score the assessment and provide students with immediate feedback on their performance.

Analytics and reports 

The computer based examination software enables you to make data-driven decisions as it collects a large amount of data that can help you identify who is having trouble and also improve the assessments over time.

✓ Disabled-friendly 

Online text can be magnified or read aloud to assist students with disabilities.

✓ Cheating controls 

Online assessment creators have a variety of features to prevent cheating.

✓ Less human error

Computer based assessment removes a significant amount of human error, such as grading errors.

✓ Re-usability

Create tests and even individual questions once and reuse them easily on other assessments.

Computer Based Assessments Vs Paper Based Assessments

You aren’t really surprised, are you? Well if you are, then you might wanna take a look at the shortcomings of paper based assessments that computer based assessments overcome.

  • Takes longer time to create: Paper based assessments takes a longer time to build than computer based assessments. You first decide the design, add questions and then proofread them, all of which take time.  
  • Wastage of paper: The amount of paper used in creating these assessments is considerable. 
  • Takes longer time to grade: Each paper based assessment has to be graded manually, which may take hours to days. It also leaves room for errors in grading.  
  • Difficulty generating reports : For paper based assessments, the reports have to be generated after all the assessees have completed their tests. 
  • Inefficient performance evaluation: With manual reports that take days to get ready and manual grading, it is difficult to compare individual performances and analyze group performances. 
  • Requires invigilation due to high risk of cheating: This is one of the most difficult partss of paper based assessments that it always has to be invigilated physically to prevent cheating. 
  • Chances of paper leak: Paper based tests are highly prone to leakage. 
  • Delayed results: Due to manual grading and scoring of papers, results are often delayed by days.

Here’s how a computer based assessment created with an online assessment software helps overcome these shortcomings of a paper based assessment:

  • Creates in minutes: It is easier to create an online assessment with readily accessible pre-made templates. 
  • No wastage of paper: There’s no paperwork involved in the process.
  • Instant grading & feedback: With the automated grading feature, answers are automatically graded. Not only this, the grades or scores are instantly displayed with a personalized feedback.  
  • Reports are automatically generated: The detailed reports & statistics are automatically generated for all the assessees. 
  • Easy to evaluate individual & group performance: With auto-generated reports & statistics, it becomes easier to analyze overall student performance and gauge the complexity of individual questions.
  • No physical invigilation required: With better security controls for invigilation like time-limits on questions, question randomization and answer shuffling, there’s no need for  physical invigilation.
  • Security controls: Security of assessments can be strengthened with password protection and unique user login details. 

Of course, there maybe a few technology glitches here and there, but in general computers make significantly fewer errors than humans do.

It Is Time to Reflect upon the Need of the Hour

Computer based assessment is a powerful idea that is changing the games of classrooms. It is believed that with time, the advantages will only intensify. 

Also, anyone with a basic knowledge of computers can create computer-aided assessments on a robust  computer based platform or computer based tools, which makes them even more feasible for almost everyone.

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About the author

Priyanshi Mishra

Priyanshi is a web digger and likes to explore the most bizarre content from all walks of life. She’s an admirer of listicles and a core dog-lover.

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