Mettl’s assessments have been the biggest filter in our recruitment process. Their platform has helped us reach out to a higher volume our applicant numbers. Mettl constantly keeps innovating on their products and tries to introduce a new aspect to everything.
Platform and proctoring
NiSM has taken significant strides in redefining financial education within the global securities markets. One of its essential purposes is creating an adequate pipeline of new-age, well-rounded and competent professionals in the securities market through a bouquet of uniquely positioned academic programs. Hence, maintaining the education and examination cycle is extremely important for the institution. Since it is an educational initiative by SEBI, every individual must take a SEBI-mandated voluntary written examination at any of NiSM’s 250+ accredited test centers spread across the country.
The academic calendar was on course, but the pandemic altered the plan. The campus and the test centers were closed for operations since the onset of the COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns. Resultantly, the institution was uncertain about its critical pen-and-paper exams for various courses. So were countless market participants who could not obtain or renew their credentials despite several months’ preparation.
Initially, NiSM was reasonably skeptical about shifting its assessments online. However, the management eventually decided to go ahead with the online system, considering the candidates’ health and safety and the need for continuity for the professionals and the securities markets.
But that was not enough.
NiSM had to validate, analyze and measure a lengthy value-proposition checklist of functional and non-functional requirements before getting the ball rolling.
Before we detail this intriguing story of this mega-partnership, the following were some NiSM’s requirements, out of the sixty-four parameters it had listed:
NiSM’s exams were a global mark of excellence that set the standard in the securities market. Hence, NiSM sought a dynamic end-to-end online examination platform to conduct such high-stakes exams. The platform needed to offer a comprehensive approach, covering all areas: exam creation, scheduling, delivery and evaluation, besides post-exam review and results declaration by certifying eligible candidates.
SEBI endorsed and accredited NiSM exams. Thus, every stage of the exam required an enhanced security feature, which mandated an easy-to-use and superior quality proctoring feature. Besides, it also needed experienced and professional proctors to verify and monitor the test-takers throughout the exam, akin to an on-site examination, to ensure academic integrity. Furthermore, the institute sought anti-cheating tools to deter candidates from indulging in any untoward activity and helped it adhere to strict internal policies and protocols.
NiSM had always conducted pen-and-paper-based exams. Therefore, it had established processes to cater to multiple test-takers appearing for the exam in the traditional format. Hence, it necessitated an online system that ensured the same accessibility and the ability to scale up during the examination process without impacting the candidate experience.
Data security, academic integrity and exam confidentiality were NiSM’s significant prerequisites for administering any exam online. Furthermore, most of its certifications were job-oriented and directly impacted the candidate’s employability and reputation. So, validating the candidates’ abilities and skills – that they deserved the degree – was equally critical. Hence, it warranted a secure and reliable environment, robust audit trail and viable evidence to handle instances of malpractice.
NISM understood that not every test-taker was well-informed about modern technology and would not be able to use it to his/her advantage if it was complicated. Similarly, a patchy internet connection across locations could make taking online exams challenging. Thus, it mandated a system with a comprehensive yet straightforward interface, which could provide a seamless experience to candidates appearing from any location with minimal internet bandwidth requirement.
NiSM was a SEBI initiative. Therefore, it had an established public procurement policy and followed all norms and guidelines before making any high-value procurement. Hence, it took a similar route when onboarding an online examination platform and proctoring provider.
NiSM set up a technical evaluation committee to investigate and vet every proposal. The task was clear and concise – the committee thoroughly evaluated each prospect’s deliverables against NiSMs laid down requirements to ensure meeting every criterion without compromising on the conditions. Many service providers participated, but soon only eight participants remained in the fray.
The eight vendors offered multiple demonstrations and presentations to appraise the management about their platforms’ prowess and how they would fulfill NiSM’s unique needs. Mercer | Mettl, too, demonstrated a remarkable ability to deliver on each of NiSMs asks.
Every service provider ticked off every parameter on NiSM’s list. However, it eventually boiled down to the solution’s “user acceptance testing.” Mercer | Mettl was unprecedented at offering a seamless user experience to every user that tested the platform. This ease of use won NiSM’s confidence, and Mercer | Mettl bagged the proposal for its large-scale high-stakes exam.
Mercer | Mettl’s Examin was the ideal value proposition that succeeded in meeting NiSM’s online examination needs. This proficient and end-to-end online exam management system was robust enough to match the institution’s scale, simultaneously offering credible, secure and swift exams with no errors or drawbacks. It also encompassed test creation to real-time reporting, complete with a dedicated admin dashboard for detailed analytics and logs with every recording.
Here are some benefits that the institution accrued:
Mercer | Mettl’s focus on stringent cybersecurity protocols addressed NiSM’s concern regarding data breaches, unauthorized access, impersonation and privacy at every stage of the examination process. Mercer | Mettl implemented the following procedures to ensure utmost fairness and security during each exam session:
Mercer | Mettl’s host, Amazon Web Services (AWS), one of the leading cloud storage services providers on the market, proved to be a highly secure cloud-based platform for exam papers and computation storage.
HTTPS (256-bit SSL encryption) ensured secure data transmission and that webcam proctored tests ran without downloading the software. Similarly, Mercer | Mettl created an uncompromisable maximum security storage environment for applicants’ data, questions and exam results.
Mercer | Mettl’s team ensured the safety and encryption of the available data by defining clear access rights, log reports and audit trails of various system resources.
Strict guidelines with multi-factor authentication for handling exam-related material prevented unauthorized access.
Mercer | Mettl validation included GDPR compliance and ISO 27001:2013 certification.
Mercer | Mettl had deployed over a hundred authorized personnel to conduct a 3-point candidate authentication to confirm only the right individuals took the exam. Live authentication began only after the candidate clicked on the exam link. Here is how the process unfolded:
Mercer | Mettl aligned three proctoring approaches and a dynamic set of anti-cheating features to mitigate any violation that could undermine NiSM’s prestige and legacy. Everything was preconfigured on the system, offering similar accountability levels as in-person invigilation. The only prerequisite for the exam was to enabling permission to share applicants’ screens, video and audio, following which Mercer | Mettl’s best-in-class proctoring solutions effectively monitored the proceedings. Here is how:
AI (Artificial Intelligence) proctoring
Live proctoring with human proctors
The candidates were taking their exam remotely, so the sanctity of the environment had to be maintained. Hence, Mercer | Mettl enabled its powerful AI-based audio proctoring software- ‘Speech Sense’ – to scan the test-taker’s physical environment for additional sounds or noises using the microphone.
Mercer | Mettl team also activated its proprietary algorithm- the ‘Credibility Index’ – to meet NiSM’s student integrity score requirement. This exclusive feature provided an auto-generated and validated integrity score for every exam-taker after taking inputs from AI flags, recorded details of the proctoring sessions, and the test finish status. Hence:
Mercer | Mettl’s avant-garde solution safeguarded NiSM’s academia’s integrity, delivered unprecedented convenience, and enabled continuity at a time when campuses and test centers were off-limits. As a result, not only did NiSM get the same quality and rigor as an exam conducted at a physical test center, but it also did not have to defer the exam or the future of any participant.
The entire video recording and audit trail available after the examination helped NiSM bring credibility to the overall examination process. The Institutes internal full-time courses that went online with classes had its semester exams dithering. But with the solution in place, even those exams went online. Test-takers well-being and safety were also ensured by enabling them to take the examination from the comfort of their home.
Mercer | Mettl’s team and NiSM management plan to complete one lakh proctored assessments by the end of the current year. NiSM has even extended its contract, which means even if the test centers opened, and it resumed in-class learning, it would take the hybrid model of online-offline exams. Some of NISM’s low-stake exams would continue to be delivered using Mercer | Mettl’s system.
The World of HR is a dynamic mix of complex technologies and challenges. We help you navigate the chaos, learn and grow.