Stakeholder News

IPC Specification on Performing Online Examinations

George Anastasopoulos
IPC Secretary

Online examination systems are becoming increasingly popular and widespread. Many educational institutes, examination centers and certification bodies of persons are replacing their traditional examination methods with online testing technologies. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for such credible online examination systems and verification processes. However, the introduction of new technological approaches on online testing led to serious concerns about security issues. The validity of such examinations for certification and accreditation purposes was strongly debated, and it was clear that an international rule setting the requirements for the acceptance of such examination systems was needed.

The International Personnel Certification Association (IPC), responding to those requests, released its new specification IPC-BD-20-001, titled “IPC Specification on Performing Online Examinations”, on July 2020. IPC is an IAF Association Member and the owner of the IPC Management Systems Auditors scheme, a sub-scope of the IAF Multilateral Recognition Arrangement (MLA).

The IPC Specification on Performing Online Examinations has been developed to address the essential elements that should be considered during the development of any online examination application. It aims to provide the base for the use of a secure, reliable and sustainable evaluation tool utilized during online examinations. This specification can be used for standalone online examinations or for online examinations performed as part of the process of certification of persons.

The IPC Specification considers the On-Line Examination System as a tool for remote assessment that measures an individual’s knowledge, skills and abilities. This examination can be used just to evaluate a candidate’s knowledge, skills and abilities, and/or for certification purposes. While implementing online examination technology, it is essential to consider a series of security aspects and requirements as described in detail in the following units of the Specification:

• Online Examination System – Architecture
• Online Examination System – Security
• Connection and Access
• Security of Examination Information Displayed on the Candidate Screen
• Server/Cloud Server
• General Data Protection
• Question Bank
• Examination Security

In addition to the main requirements, the Specification provides guidance through two Annexes:

Annex 1 describes some of the techniques that can be used in order to enhance the security of the online examination systems like Secure Browser, Online Proctored Examination/Test, Data Encryption, Audit Logging, IP-based Authentication & Authorization.

Annex 2 refers to the fundamental question types used in examinations, such as Multiple-choice, Open-Ended/Essay, Closed-End, and Fill-In type questions.

The full version of the Specification can be downloaded here.

Requests for permission to purchase or reproduce this specification for commercial purposes should be addressed to the IPC secretariat:

IPC – 14071 Peyton Dr #2701, Chino Hills, CA 91709, USA
Telephone: +1(562)6501941, email:, website:

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