The PhD admissions are held through an entrance test specially designed to check the knowledge of the aspiring candidates, each of the university creates a separate question set considering the research activities and interests of the professors at Universities, these tests make sure that only those candidates who are genuinely interested and have good foundation knowledge of the subject can enter into the PhD course. The reputed universities want the best candidates to get admitted for the course.
The admission tests come up as a challenge considering the number of students and their locations, the candidates located across the country apply for the PhD admission tests. But it is impractical to set up the offline test centers at all these locations.
Online admission tests come up as a strong alternative to center based tests, Advantages of online entrance test are many, all the advantages of center based tests can be retained in online tests, moreover, the online tests provide better flexibility to candidates and makes test conduction cost effective and easier for administrators.
About Solapur University
Punyashlok Ahilyadevi Holkar Solapur University (PAHSU) is one such reputed university looking to assess the admission seekers to make sure the inherited quality research of the university continues in the future as well. The university has catered around 60000+ students across the academic departments of Arts, commerce and science since its inception in 2004.
Solapur university wanted to conduct the PhD entrance test for the aspiring candidates, there were around 3000+ applicants looking forward to taking admission to PhDs in about 22 specializations. University had various requirements regarding strictness of test, question paper security, restricted access to question papers, result generation and publication.
With such a requirement, Solapur university approached Eklavvya for conducting the entrance tests. With Eklavvya Solapur university could conduct assessment for more than 3000 candidates situated across the state of Maharashtra.
Here are the highlights of entrance test conducted by Solapur University
Tests were conducted in hybrid mode
The university was provided with an option of conducting the test in online mode or in offline mode at the digital test centers. It was the university’s choice whether to opt for a totally online test or offline digital tests. Considering the factors like convenience to candidates and test center arrangements, the university decided to conduct the test in a hybrid mode.
Question Papers were secure
Only designated personnel who were provided with login credentials could access the question papers through the web portal, the question papers were stored on secure cloud automatically, complete prevention question paper leakage was possible.
University had total control on online test system access
The university has its own hierarchy, each of the staff personnel have different roles and responsibilities. Eklavvya has well adopted the model that considers these differences in roles and responsibilities.
For example, the clerks in university were allowed to do candidate data management, the professors were allowed to import the questions. No one except the assigned professor could add, view or edit the questions imported in the system.
The access to questions was totally controlled, not all professors in the university could access all the questions in the system. The professors could add, view or edit questions only for the subjects which are assigned to them. A science professor could access science questions only, same for other subjects.
This feature became important as the university had to create around 22 question paper sets and there was no need of giving access to all the questions to all the professors, giving such an access would also have led to threat to the question paper security.
University had flexibility to choose question types
There was no limitation of question types, it is a fact that “Only objective questions” can’t be used for assessing the student knowledge and research perspectives, considering this, it was important to include the “Subjective questions” in the PhD entrance test.
An objective question would be
“Is history analysis a good measure of future prediction?”
Option A) Strongly agree
Option B) Agree
Option C) Disagree
Option D) Strongly disagree
The problem with objective questions is that it gives no space for candidates to open up and express their view on the topic, this is especially a consideration for creating a PhD entrance test, the student perspectives need to be understood and interpreted, which would make assessment competent.
The same question can be framed in “Subjective type”
“Is history analysis a good measure of future prediction? Why and Why not?”
Such a question would help in improving overall competency of the assessment.
The Solapur university had an advantage and could opt for the tests which contained both subjective and objective questions.
Platform supported multiple languages
The university offers the doctorate course in various subjects, in arts, there are subjects related to regional languages including Marathi, Hindi, Sanskrit, Tamil and Urdu. For the university, it was important to conduct the tests in these languages for certain PhDs.
The platform is supported to conduct the test in multiple languages without any additional tools or plugins. Apart from this, an additional feature of multilingual support was provided, where a same test could be conducted in more than one language.
Secure and malpractice free tests
The PhD tests are high stake tests, the importance of these tests is high as it is directly linked with the quality of research that would happen in the university in the upcoming period. Taking this into account, it was important to make sure that tests are conducted in a malpractice free manner. Various mechanisms of preventing malpractice were implemented.
The tests were conducted in proctored mode, meaning that the designated invigilators could keep track of the activity of the candidate during the test. Apart from this, the candidate activity logs were recorded in the system to attain a better level of activity tracing and malpractice prevention.
It was possible to prevent the candidate from switching the browser window/tab during the test, a warning message used to be displayed. If the candidate used to do this multiple times, the test used to get terminated. The university could specify the interval of “How many times the candidate would be allowed to switch the window/browser tab”
End to end technical support
Technical support to University Staff
An initial detailed training session was conducted for each of the staff who was involved in the process of online test, followed by this, a library of elaborative training videos was shared to the staff. An experienced and expert coordinator from the team was assigned to act as an interface between university staff and Eklavvya.
Technical support to candidates
A mock test was conducted prior to conducting the actual test, this made candidates familiar with the online test environment and made the actual test conduction easier. Candidates were requested to use the same device for appearing the mock test that they intend to use for appearing the actual PhD entrance test.
Help mail address was provided to the candidates, if candidates faced any issues, they used to send the mail to this mail address along with the attachments if any. Support numbers were shared, in case candidates had any technical issues, these support numbers to be accessed for prompt resolution
Test administration was easy
The test process was automated to a great extent, the import of questions and candidate data was possible in bulk mode. The communication of username, password and test link was made automatic, as soon as the test was assigned, these details used to be provided to candidates automatically.
Test creation and scheduling activity was easy to understand and implement, the results of the test could be downloaded just with click, the results were elaborative and contained section, subject and topic wise marks for each participating candidate. This made the merit list generation process automated.
The University acknowledges the contribution of Eklavvya in conducting the PhD entrance test, here is what they say
We learned about Eklavvya from our colleagues in the IUMS team. In our interaction with the Splashgain team, we found them knowledgeable, dedicated, supportive and humble. The solution provided by Eklavvya is cost effective.
For our university, Eklavvya conducted a PET (PhD entrance test). They prepared an ERP module for the university for skill development courses, student admission and alumni management of the university. Our experience with Splashgain is very much satisfactory.
Splashgain made a skilled person immediately available to us each time we faced any issue.
The entire team of Splashgain is focused, dedicated, qualified, skilled and cooperative. The members of the team are helpful and technologically sound.Mr Shah,
Finance and accounts officer,
Punyashlok Ahilyadevi Holkar Solapur University