What is remote invigilation really like?

Remote invigilation (RI) enables students to sit their assessments from home. As it’s quite a new thing for students and training providers, some people are understandably a bit nervous about the new process.

We spoke to a few people who have experienced remote invigilation who explained why there’s no need to be worried and how it can be an easier and more convenient option for many. 

Emma McArthur – training provider at McArthur Online

What made you offer remote invigilation assessments? 

Many students wanted them due to Covid or because they lived 20+ miles away from an assessment centre.

How did you find the RI assessment process? 

It is very easy to book students on, so much so that I don’t add an admin fee. 

What advice would you give to someone considering RI? 

All training providers should offer it – there’s no reason not to. I email students the AAT user guide and link to the PSI software to ensure their computer is compatible. Students will also need to have a strong WIFI connection. 

What is the best thing about offering RI? 

It’s great to see students complete their course exams so quickly, not having to wait for availability at an exam venue. They love being able to book the exam so close to sitting it (two days before), so once they know they are ready, they can go for it. Students say it’s a lot less stressful sitting the exam at their home or workplace. 

Has the option of RI helped your students to progress? 

100%! 85% of students have chosen to sit another exam with RI. 

For those students who are worried about sitting their first remote invigilated exam, what advice or guidance do you have to ease their worries? 

If there are any IT problems (which is very unlikely), your exam will be voided, and the AAT will credit the fee to your training provider. You can set it at the weekends and start the exam anytime on the date it is booked for. 

Karen Feltham – student 

What appealed to you about sitting an RI assessment?

Mainly, it was the convenience of sitting an assessment from home at a time to suit me. I live pretty far from the assessment centre and have to use public transport to get there, so there is always the worry of getting to the centre on time. I also arrive super early just to make sure I’m not late, so I then need to find somewhere to go before going into the assessment centre. Exam nerves can get the better of me, so this long wait can exacerbate the anxiety. For me, sitting an RI assessment means that I can be comfortable in my own home, I have no worries about travel or finding somewhere to wait, and I don’t need to take the day off work. Also, taking an assessment in a centre can be quite busy and distracting, with people frantically typing and getting up to leave once they finish their exam. 

How did you find the RI assessment process?

Admittedly, I did think that the process would be really complicated, but actually, it’s very easy. Once you have downloaded the PSI browser and the Surpass Viewer, it’s really simple, and you have step by step instructions taking you through the security pages and onto the assessment. If I can do it, anyone can! 

What advice would you give to someone considering RI?

I would say give it a go! You don’t need any fancy kit, and most of us already have webcams due to the pandemic and the rapid increase in working from home. It’s no different to sitting the practice assessments in terms of the set up and layout. You don’t need to clear out rooms in your home or office; you just need to make sure all your books and study notes are not accessible. Don’t be put off by the lack of scrap paper and physical calculator as these are all still available just on the screen – it’s just like writing an email! And, of course, these notes are not considered part of your answers.

Would you take another exam by RI?

Absolutely! It’s honestly so easy to do (well, not the actual assessment, of course!). It’s amazing that there are three levels of AAT available on RI. I would take all my exams on RI if possible. 

What is the best thing about taking an assessment via RI?

There are so many things that I love about RI assessments it’s hard to pick the best thing, but if I had to choose one, it would be the convenience of the whole process. It’s so much nicer to sit an assessment at a time to suit me within a 24-hour time frame. There’s no need for me to take time off work, organise childcare or worry about travelling to get there and back.  

Do you feel RI has helped you progress in your studies?

Yes, if it hadn’t been for RI, I would have been very far behind with my studies, especially with the reduced availability of assessments and spaces in the centres, the lockdowns, the reduced services on public transport. I would have felt way off schedule. 

For those students who are worried about sitting their first remote invigilated exam, what advice or guidance do you have to ease their worries?

My advice would be to download the instructions and practice with the PSI viewer and a practice assessment – these are all available on the learning portal. Also, find the time during the day that you work best. Everyone works better at different times, so it’s a great idea to find out what time of day works for you.

Lisa Buonocore – training provider at First Intuition 

What made you offer RI assessments?

As a training provider, we want to help students in any way, so we felt that this was a great opportunity. We offer RI to our students and external students. We understand that there can be anxieties with going into a centre and think this is a fantastic idea for the students.

How did you find the RI assessment process?

My team responsible for setting up the exams had never done it before and were not overwhelmed with what was involved. It’s simple to do with just a few clicks of a button.

What advice would you give to someone considering RI?

My advice to other training providers would be – just try it. It honestly isn’t difficult once you have your process in place, which we did in a very short time. Once you have that part set up, it’s a very slick process that ultimately helps your students. To all the students who haven’t sat an RI exam, I would also say – just try it. We have had many students who were very apprehensive at first, then have gone on to sit many other RI exams with ease. The feedback we get is positive. There are so many advantages, from not travelling to reducing exam nerves by being in a familiar environment and many more.

What is the best thing about offering RI?

It’s about letting the students have the opportunity to sit an exam anywhere they like. My department is the Distance Learning team, where all of our courses are virtual/online, so it just makes sense to be able to offer RI to our students too.

How has the option of RI helped your students to progress?

It has a significant impact on progress as our RI students don’t have to wait until their nearest exam centre has an exam running or wait for a space. They can sit any day, any time. So, in theory, they are sitting exams a lot quicker than usual, them moving onto the next unit.

For those students who are worried about sitting their first remote invigilated exam, what advice or guidance do you have to ease their worries?

I would say, don’t worry. As long as you read the AAT’s manual thoroughly on what is needed (we send it out with any enquiry to the student), then you will be absolutely fine. We have had many students sit exams this way, and once you’ve done it the first time, your nerves will ease.

Lee Jones – training provider at Premier Training 

What made you offer RI assessments?

We’ve always focused on providing flexibility across our range of distance learning courses, allowing students to study from home when it suits them. As a result, we were delighted to be part of the AAT’s RI assessment process from the first pilot of the Level 1 Access to Bookkeeping course. 

How did you find the RI assessment process?

As a training provider, we’ve found the process simple and easy to manage from the outset. This has been so beneficial in allowing us to communicate the options to AAT students and helping to ensure that they can book remote assessments at the ideal time for them. Our students – and students from other training providers – have appreciated that clarity and the ability to book their subsequent assessments in a matter of minutes using our online booking facility.

What advice would you give to someone considering RI? 

 We’d advise students to look at the guidance around RI assessments on the Premier Training and AAT websites – those are great starting points. All the information on which assessments are available and the costs are on our Premier Training platform, with a link to the AAT’s RI user guide, which outlines the technical specifications required. If students have further questions, they can contact Premier Training or the AAT. We can book and schedule RI assessments for all AAT students, regardless of their training provider.

What is the best thing about offering RI?

It’s the flexibility. Students can sit assessments at the perfect time of day for them – including at weekends or in the evening – and can save time and money by not travelling to an AAT Assessment Centre. Our student feedback tells us that they often don’t need to take time off work or reschedule childcare, which are huge benefits for many distance learners.

How has the option of RI helped your students to progress?

We have seen a large number of students complete their accounting and bookkeeping courses rapidly thanks, in part, to the introduction of RI assessments. They are no longer restricted by the availability of assessment slots at their local Assessment Centre.

For those students who are worried about sitting their first remote invigilated exam, what advice or guidance do you have to ease their worries?

Don’t worry! The AAT RI assessments have been created specifically for students to ensure they have the option of sitting their exams from the comfort of their own homes. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and help decide if RI assessments are the right option for you.

Further reading and watching

Sophie Cross is the Editor of Freelancer Magazine and a freelance writer and marketer at Thoughtfully.

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