Online assessment in undergraduate medical education: Challenges and solutions from a LMIC university

Syeda Sadia Fatima, Romana Idrees, Kausar Jabeen, Saniya Sabzwari, Sadaf Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Objectives: The Covid-19 pandemic has caused large-scale disruption in almost all educational programs across the world. Planning and rapid implementation of assessment through an online format presents the next set of novel challenges that must be addressed by academic administrations across the globe. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted between March to August 2020 at the Aga Khan University Medical College. Two hundred medical students of year 1 and 2 participated in the study. We describe the planning, processes, and outcomes of online assessments using video communication platforms conducted at a private university in Pakistan. Standardized protocols were written and piloted, extensive training of student, proctors and staff for preparation and conduct of online assessments were developed. Feedback was recorded after each session and suggestions were incorporated in subsequent high-stakes assessments. Results: A total of three pilot assessments were conducted to identify issues and process refinement. Commercially available lockdown browser and ZOOM were used in the first pilot; 80% of the class was unable to launch lockdown browser and laptops required repeated reload/reboot. For the second pilot assessment, University’s VLE page & MS Teams was trailed. Issues with internet connectivity, VLE page slowdown, and suboptimal recording feature in MS Teams were identified. For the final pilot assessment, phased launching of VLE page with single test item per page was implemented with success. The students reported that attempting the online exam on VLE with ZOOM support was user friendly. Ninety percent of the class was supportive of the continuing with the online assessments. Conclusion: In order to device an effective protocol for e-assessments conducting multiple trial runs, and incorporating feedback from all stakeholders is a necessity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)945-951
Number of pages7
JournalPakistan Journal of Medical Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Assessments
  • E-assessments
  • Medical education
  • Online teaching and learning
  • Virtual learning environment


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