International schools in the city are taking baby steps towards onscreen examinations and allowing students to take tests on computers.

Cambridge International Examinations, for one, has introduced onscreen board-level Cambridge Secondary 1 Checkpoint Tests--equivalent to exams taken by Class VII or VIII students--at three schools across the country , including two in the city.

The International Baccalaureate, too, has introduced eassessment for their middle year programmes.

City schools that participated in IB World's first online assessment session in May 2016 included Ecole Mondiale, Juhu, and NES International School, Mulund.

At MET Rishikul Vidyalaya, Bandra, which is one of the three Cambridge schools to have adopted the onscreen test format, 28 Class VIII students took the Science test using computers last October. Joining them this year is Podar International School, Santacruz, where 119 Class VII students will take the English and Science test onscreen. For multiplechoice questions, students will have to tick the right boxes and for subjective ones, they must type out complete answers.

The two schools have held mock tests for a smooth transition. “We began trials around two years ago as Cambridge was testing out new software. We have also been conducting our school examinations onscreen so that students get used to the change. Parents, too, needed a little convincing but now everyone is on board,“ said Vandana Lulla, director-principal, Podar International School. The school plans to use onscreen assessment for all grades from the next academic year.

Kavita Sanghvi, principal, Rishikul Vidyalaya, said use of technology is the way forward.“All of us today are more comfortable with emails and messages than pen and paper. We have begun to prepare our stu dents in the same way. Students have been able to finish a test before the prescribed time. They enjoyed it as everything was live and there was no human interference as answer papers were directly uploaded to Cambridge.“ During the exams, schools have to ensure a distance of 1.5m between students and invigilators. Students cannot switch screens while answering papers.

The board plans to gradually extend the practice to Cambridge IGCSE (Class X) and Cambridge International AS & A Level (Class XI and XII). The choice to opt for an onscreen exam will remain with the school, said Cambridge. “Our onscreen assessments will be available as optional alternatives during May and October series examinations, but schools will continue to have the option of paper-based assessments. These onscreen testing alternatives are being introduced to keep in line with developments in classrooms and learning technology and to ensure that our learners are developing the right skills they need for life at the university and beyond, using the right tools and content,“ said a spokesperson.

IB schools are similarly prepping their students to embrace the change. “We still do not have instructions from IB but we are preparing for a change. We have an English examination which all our students take on screen. We are making efforts to ensure children and teachers are comfortable using technology, “ said Radhika Sinha, principal, Aditya Birla World Academy .

NES International students, though, will not be taking the e-assessment this year. “We were among the two schools that opted for e-assessment last year. The tests made Class X students nervous and there were a few technical difficulties, so we won't opt for it this year,“ said principal R Varadarajan.