Putting security at the heart of our approach
Pearson employs a layered approach to security, incorporating innovative test design and delivery, advanced identity management, secure proctored delivery, automatic results validation and data forensics.
- using digital photographs, palm-vein scanning and electronic signatures to authenticate test taker identity;
- video and audio monitoring in the test center to provide the highest level of security;
- secure question banking software and unique, randomised test forms.
We demonstrate the security of PTE Academic in the following ways:
Invigilator to test taker ratios
The ratio of invigilators to test takers is an important indication of the level of test security within the test room. Lower ratios mean an increased level of vigilance of the individual test takers. PTE Academic has an invigilator to test taker ratio of 1:15 which is the lowest ratio of all the major academic English tests.
From registration through to the final delivery of results, PTE Academic is the only fully computerized, paperless, academic English language test in the world. Paperless testing further enhances test security by eliminating the possibility of exam papers being copied, stolen, leaked or lost. It also prevents certificates from being forged.
PTE Academic's palm-vein scanner captures and recognises the unique patterns in a test taker’s palm veins using non-intrusive scanning technology. PTE Academic is the only test to offer this type of biometric assessment as an automated security feature.
The system provides an enhanced service, known as ‘one-to-many matching’. It is configured to compare each test taker’s biometrics to an entire test taker database prior to the release of the test results. The system detects duplicate record creation, including proxy testing, and where duplicates are identified the results are automatically held whilst an investigation takes place.
Randomised test forms
Each PTE Academic test is built from a large pool of content and through a process of using the best possible assembly, each test ends up with an almost identical level of difficulty. The test taker is therefore presented with a test that is of comparable difficulty to the tests set to other test takers but with a different compilation of questions. The tests are assigned randomly to test takers. In this way no two test takers will be taking the same test at the same time in the same test center and it is highly unlikely that they will have more than two or three questions in common.
This makes attempts at communicating test content to other test takers futile, reduces the likelihood of test memorization, and renders the organized gathering of test questions almost impossible. With most other tests all the test takers in one session will sit the same test at the same time, increasing the risk of test fraud.
Secure online verification
Users of the PTE Academic Results Service access score reports via a secure verification website. In order to avoid the potential for forgery, only PTE Academic scores stored on this site are guaranteed to be authentic. Both test takers and score report users have secure login credentials to enable them to access score data.
PTE Academic is the only major test of academic English that is entirely paperless for both the test delivery and the certification. By removing paper altogether PTE Academic can guarantee a greater level of security. Find out how to access scores.