I was never a great test taker. It didn’t matter if it was math, science, English, whatever — I always hated them, and the pressure of the clock always irritated me to no end. Standardized tests, particularly the SAT, were the biggest things I dreaded while in school.
The scariest exam I ever took was in college — it was my sophomore year when I was taking my final exam for intermediate microeconomics, the most difficult course I’ve taken in my entire life. It didn’t seem to matter how many hours I studied, how much time I spent 1:1 at office hours with my professor, or what study groups I went to — I just really sucked at it. On final exam day, I opened to the first page of the test, and it said in huge capital letters: “BREATHE. DO NOT PANIC.” Too late. I already was.
So you can imagine how freaked out I was when I started reading about the recent influx of online proctor companies that are getting all kinds of money from closed colleges across this country. Student surveillance is becoming the new norm during this current pandemic. The proctor forces you to enable screen sharing and your web cam, but you are not able to see them. At any time, they have the right to force you to move your camera to your desk, your wall, the back of your room — anything. And for some, when you look away from the computer screen for more than four seconds, you get flagged for cheating and could fail the entire course. Because, of course, that makes a lot of sense when you’re taking a MATH exam and need to crunch some numbers by HAND with a pencil and paper on your DESK. Because, no one ever allows their eyes to wander when contemplating a test response.
These companies are absolutely insipid and short sighted. They’re certainly raking in the money right now and taking advantage of a pandemic when people are dying every single day and gloating over it all. But I think what is even worse are the universities that are hiring them in droves.
This would only add to any student’s stress given the pandemic and trying to finish a course now. If I were living as a student during this time, I would be completely miserable and likely sweating buckets. Because, yeah, I really want to have some random stranger who I cannot see stare at me nonstop for a 1-3-hour-long exam and rate me with a “suspicion” score on whether I may or may not have cheated based on where my eyes wander.