CCO exams will transition to digital by 2024

By Hannah Sundermeyer28 June 2022

Although CCO candidates began taking exams utilizing computers nearly 15 years ago, CCO is excited to announce its technology initiative to move all written exams to the computer. This initiative not only uses the latest and greatest testing and security technology, but it has several key benefits for candidates and employers, the company said. Benefits include:

  • Immediate score reporting once exams are complete*
  • Extended test availability windows to include outside of normal work hours
  • A greatly expanded network of areas where the test can be taken
  • Increased ease of scheduling or rescheduling exams

* A preliminary score will be available immediately. Results are subject to review and approval following standard testing protocols.

CCO remains committed to offering its candidates options that best suit their schedules and needs. To support candidates accustomed to testing in a group environment (often exams hosted by employers or following a training course), CCO will introduce a new test administration modality known as Event Online Testing (EOT). To support candidates wanting to test on their own schedule, CCO will introduce an alternative test administration modality known as Online Proctored Testing (OPT).

“Both EOT and OPT leverage technology and current best practices in test delivery to improve the candidate experience through increased flexibility in scheduling and faster exam scoring, while also ensuring higher levels of test security” said Joel Oliva, senior director of innovation, CCO. “We expect that both EOT and OPT will be available in limited applications before the end of this year and will be available to all CCO candidates in early 2023. It is CCO’s vision to see the new modalities replace current delivery methods testing by the conclusion of 2023.”

Event Online Testing (EOT)

EOT is CCO’s solution to the group testing setting as a replacement for paper/pencil testing. In many instances, candidates are brought together at a single location to go through training and then complete testing. EOT supports this approach, but instead of candidates testing using paper exam booklets and scantron bubble forms, they will test on computers.

EOT administrations will be conducted at CCO authorized test centers. These can be established at dedicated facilities (such as an employer’s office or training facility) or set up at temporary locations such as hotels or other off-site locations. Just as they do today, candidates will apply online to test at an EOT and receive notification of approval for testing.

Each candidate will need a dedicated computer for the test administration. However, because of the flexibility of this modality, a candidate may be scheduled to utilize a computer in the morning, and a different candidate may use the same device in the afternoon.

Any supplemental material, such as load charts, reference material, or calculators, will be provided within the exam onscreen. On test day, the candidates will be checked in by a proctor who is physically present. The candidate will take all exams they are scheduled for in succession.

While candidates who currently test in a group setting (via paper/pencil) must wait up to 12 business days to receive exam results, a major benefit to moving to EOT is that all candidates who complete exams will receive their scores immediately at the conclusion of their tests.

Exam security will be maintained by the physically present proctor. In addition, exam administrations will also be recorded. Every candidate will be recorded from start to finish via webcam, microphone, and screen record. All recordings are stored and will be reviewed for test irregularities.

Online Proctored Testing (OPT)

While EOT meets the traditional training/testing model, OPT offers the highest degree of candidate flexibility. OPT is CCO’s solution to the individual testing setting which will be a replacement for computer-based testing (at PSI test centers). OPT can be done at home or almost any private room with an internet connection. Testing is available 24/7/365 from anywhere around the world, and once approved for testing, candidates can book an OPT session in as little as 15 minutes. This will be particularly convenient for scheduling around work obligations and inclement weather, or even testing at night or on the weekend. Even more, candidates can cancel/reschedule their exam up until the exam start time with no additional fee. OPT candidates will receive their exam scores immediately at the conclusion of their tests.

OPT incorporates additional exam security measures allowing for this more flexible testing option. In this mode the online proctor will monitor the candidate in real time via webcam, microphone, and screen share, with the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI). All recordings are stored and will be reviewed for testing irregularities.

The online proctor will lead each candidate through a check-in process that is anticipated to take about a half hour. They will check the candidate’s ID, ensure the computer meets minimum requirements and is set up properly, and ensure that the computer is not running any inappropriate software. Additionally, the online proctor will have the candidate perform a 360-degree room scan using the computer’s camera to show that the candidate is in the room alone and that there is nothing that could be used during the exam to offer an unfair advantage.

Testing on computers

While CCO has offered its exams through PSI computer labs since 2008, these new modalities will move all CCO candidates to testing on computers. Technical requirements for EOT and OPT can be found at www.nccco.org/techreq.

In addition to testing on computers, all test resources will also be provided digitally. This includes load charts, calculators, digital whiteboard, and digital scratch paper. All physical paper is being eliminated from CCO test administrations.

CCO plans to eliminate both brick and mortar computer and paper/pencil test modalities by the end of 2023. The new modalities offer significant advantages, particularly related to candidate flexibility and test security. Beginning in 2024, these legacy modalities will be eliminated as standard operating procedure. CCO does plan to maintain them for extenuating circumstances if online testing is not an option. More information will be available in 2023.

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