Award-winning Irish company TestReach is transforming the world of examinations and assessment with its innovative technology that allows any type of test to be run and invigilated over the web.
In a world with unprecedented demand for education, qualifications, certifications and compliance, you could say these are testing times for awarding organisations and corporations tasked with frequently running assessments locally or globally.
But Dublin-based TestReach has created a 21st-century solution to solve the mounting administrative burden associated with running exams. Its cloud-based system cost-effectively streamlines the process, eliminates time zone restrictions, and enables organisations to run any kind of e-assessment, from formative tests through to high-stake summative exams.
Moreover, the system can provide secure remote invigilation.
“TestReach was set up to recreate the exam hall experience online,” explains Louella Morton, TestReach’s Co-Founder and Executive Director. “It removes the logistical headaches and expense of running face-to-face exams, delivers an excellent experience for the candidates, is totally secure and also easy to use.”
While there are systems that offer either e-assessment or online invigilation (also known as online proctoring), TestReach’s SaaS platform is the only solution that combines online assessment – including test authoring, question bank management, test assembly, exam delivery, marking, moderation and reporting – with remote invigilation.
During e-assessments, administrators receive a wealth of real-time data via the examination dashboards enabling them to monitor answers given and the performance of questions – information that can be used to refine the quality of future tests.
And unlike many other software vendors, TestReach does not charge annual site licence fees. A simple pay-per-test system allows organisations to explore the potential of the technology, which is totally scalable for any number of candidates.
Benefits to BACP
The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) is the professional association for members of the counselling professions in the UK. Before implementing TestReach’s technology, BACP ran weekly assessments in hotels or conference centres across the UK.
“As a forward-thinking organisation, we’re trying to set the tone rather than follow and as we’d been implementing a lot of technological changes, it seemed timely to modernise our approach to assessment. TestReach’s solution particularly appealed because the system incorporated a professional remote invigilation service,” says Eve Orton, Quality Assurance Supervisor at BACP.
The remote invigilation involves trained supervisors watching and listening to candidates through a webcam. The candidates’ screens are locked down so they can’t access information online and the session is recorded.
Using TestReach’s intuitive software, BACP was able to create an online assessment that includes sequential clinical case studies and questions, structured to mirror the experience of a therapist dealing with an actual client. The easy-to-use system also means that candidates do not require a high level of computer literacy.
“We are getting some very positive comments about the online assessment process. One of the things we really wanted to achieve was a reduction in exam anxiety and we’ve been able to do that using TestReach technology,” adds Orton. “We completely trust the system to administer assessments effectively and securely, and the benefits to BACP in terms of time and cost savings are obvious.”
Over 50 organisations now use TestReach’s technology either to blend with their physical exam hall approach or to replace it. Many, including BACP, work internationally and appreciate the flexibility the system gives them.
“We have more international members taking our exam now, whereas previously there was no way for them to do the test and progress their membership,” says Orton.
Future focus for TestReach
Since setting up in 2014, TestReach has achieved substantial success in Ireland, the UK and Benelux, with customers across educational institutions, professional bodies and corporations in highly regulated industries. It now has its sights set on the USA, Australia, and the Nordic and DACH regions.
“We’ll be taking a focused approach to entering these markets, pinpointing which area we want to go after and which type of customer,” says Morton.
The company is also committed to further developing its remote invigilation solution.
“We’re looking at many different cutting-edge technologies so that we continually enhance and improve our offering,” continues Morton.
Focus, passion and ambition have underpinned TestReach’s growth and have garnered it accolades including the Digital Disruptor Award 2018 and the Women Mean Business ‘Woman in Technology 2018’ award for its co-founders Louella Morton and Sheena Bailey.
Support from Enterprise Ireland, including early-stage supports, innovation grants and export development assistance, has also bolstered the company’s progress.
“Outside of the formal support mechanism we’ve also found it incredibly beneficial to be working with Enterprise Ireland throughout their office network. Their in-market people are very helpful,” says Morton.
Alongside its technically sophisticated yet easy-to-use technology, the company’s relationship with its customers plays a key role in its success.
“We’re passionate about the positive difference technology can make for companies. They shouldn’t have to struggle with mediocre or inflexible systems that make life difficult for them. It’s not about them fitting around our system but us supporting their business,” says Morton.
“Moving assessment online can be challenging and there’s a huge amount of change management required but we can guide our customers through the process. We’ve a good reputation with our clients and prospects. The words “cultural fit” and “refreshing” are used a lot in the feedback we get. Maybe it’s an Irish thing, but I know it’s appreciated.”