EMS – Automated Exam Marking

examPossibly our favourite project of all time!

The Challenge

“We need a way to create our own multi choice answer sheets to handle a variety of question types. We want to dramatically cut the lead time from exam sitting to exam result by allowing the exam invigilators to scan and upload completed exams, and we’d really like to get rid of our existing OMR scanner that only works with pink paper”

So in other word, find and implement an OMR software solution that can read completed answer sheets, that you have produced depending on the exam sat.

The Solution

We spent a good few weeks evaluating all the available OMR / OCR solutions on the market (That’s optical mark recognition and optical character recognition). There are quite a few good solutions out there, but the FormSuite solution from Accusoft was the standout solution that most closely matched our requirements.

The custom answer sheet solution was developed using a database stored definition for each answer sheet, no. of questions, number of answer choices per question, number of allowed answers per question etc. Upon requesting an answer sheet, the definition was used to provide the info to the answer sheet Latex driven builder. The result was a branded, custom answer sheet, pre-filled with the candidates name and exam details.

Each answer sheet requires it’s own OMR template that fits over the completed answer sheet and specifies the regions on the paper to check for marks on the paper that indicate the candidate answers.

The software can be configured to improve the read accuracy by aligning the scanned images and applying filters such as de-speckling and pixel dilation.

Any completed exam papers that cannot be read by the software or any that are clearly misread are flagged and passed to the manual marking part of the EMS system.

After the answer sheets are read the are then scored by simply comparing the given answers against the exam definition.

There is even a certificate system that produces the candidates exam certificate – if they passed!

The EMS system was delivered as a ‘black-box’ solution with all the necessary web service interfaces, to allow the solution to be easily integrated into the BCS’s new eProfessional exam booking and management system

The Result

The whole Exam process is now very slick. From booking exams, through exam pack production and delivery, completed exam upload, marking and scoring, the whole process could be achieved in a matter of minutes, if necessary. What this means is that there is now no unnecessary systems delays in the process and candidates get their results far quicker than before and a whole heap more efficiently.

Bespoke systems development for companies with ideas