Online Exam Proctoring: Something Old, Something New

With the successful launch of ATA’s online certification exam, we’re starting to ramp up capacity and open more spaces for candidates.1 (For basic information about the online exam, check out the Certification Forum column in the July/August issue.2) This expanded accessibility to candidates opens possibilities for proctors as well, since they’re no longer limited by geography. Read on to learn more about this important role and decide if you might be interested in becoming a proctor.

Proctoring Online versus In Person: What’s the Difference?

A proctor’s role is to (a) ensure that the translations produced are the candidate’s work alone, and (b) safeguard the confidentiality of exam passages. This means monitoring what websites are accessed by candidates during the exam to verify that no machine translation, email, or chat rooms are used. (For a complete list of resources that are allowed or prohibited, see ATA’s website.3)

Proctors at in-person sittings check in candidates and hand out envelopes containing the passages and the USB drives where candidate’s save their work. Proctors announce the start of the exam then walk around the room observing screens and monitoring behavior for the three-hour exam period. Once time is up, they collect the USB drives and papers and check that nothing has been saved on candidates’ computers. The head proctor returns all exam materials to ATA Headquarters.

Proctors at online sittings have a more focused role. ExamRoom.AI, the remote online proctoring company ATA partnered with, performs the “onboarding” steps of checking identification, reviewing our exam rules (which candidates already received by email and agreed to when they registered), and logging candidates in to start the exam. The proctor’s job begins at that point.

Online exam security is significant, through a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and live proctors. Proctors view candidates and their screens remotely and can communicate with candidates to warn them if they engage in prohibited behavior. It’s much easier to monitor website use online than in person, and the AI records every exam and flags prohibited behavior. Flagged behaviors can be reviewed with the exam recording later if needed.

Candidates’ translations are saved automatically and candidates’ screens have a countdown timer showing their remaining time, so online proctors don’t have to track the time. Because all materials are online, proctors are not responsible for sending anything to ATA Headquarters.

The main difference between an online and in-person exam for candidates and proctors alike is that the staff at ExamRoom.AI serve as the direct contact and “first-line” proctors. They know the system and can answer all technical questions quickly. They also have ATA’s guidelines and can answer basic questions about our exam rules. ATA proctors can hear verbal exchanges and communicate with vendor staff to relay responses if needed. Our proctors also communicate anything they want to flag to the vendor staff via private chat.

How Do You Qualify to Proctor?

ATA proctors for the online exam must be ATA-certified translators (CTs). CTs who plan to test in another language pair may not proctor in the year they will take the exam. Proctors are paid a $75 honorarium for each exam sitting and must attend a training session to learn about the new online modality to be eligible. Once trained, proctors sign up for predetermined sittings (i.e., online dates and times scheduled by ATA Headquarters). Spots are opened to candidates based on the number of proctors available: currently, at a 5:1 candidate-to-proctor ratio.

Where Do You Sign Up?

We’re very proud of our proctors’ dedicated service to our program! ATA would not be able to offer a certification exam, in person or online, without these key actors. If you’re a certified translator and interested in helping fellow translators by joining their ranks, please contact Caron Bailey, ATA’s Certification Program manager, at to learn more.

  1. For a list of available exam sittings, see
  2. Hansen, Michèle. “The Online Exam Is Here!” (The ATA Chronicle, July/August 2021)
  3. ATA Computerized Exam Online Resource List: What’s Permitted and What’s Not,

Michèle Hansen, CT is chair of ATA’s Certification Committee. An ATA-certified French>English translator and editor since 1990, she specializes in the health-related international development, medical, and pharmaceutical sectors. She previously served as administrator of ATA’s French Language Division.

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