Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
GradeMaker Pro is a secure, browser-based application supporting the creation, quality assurance and banking of test questions and papers. We have worked with some of the worlds leading assessment bodies to create a cloud-based platform which delivers all the features you could need, while being simple to implement.
This FAQs section is designed to answer any questions you have, but do contact us if you need more information.
Security is at the heart of good exam content management. That’s why security is central in our software. You can set access control by type of user – for example, an author can have access to different content to a reviewer – and remove access from people who are no longer working on papers, or who have left the organisation. Login to the site is always password protected but you can also choose to activate two-factor authentification (2FA) for extra protection.
Need to lock out certain territories or locations? You can black-list them, but you can also white-list certain locations, for example, to allow people within an office setting to login without 2FA.
You can find out more about our approach to security in this article by our Chief Technology Officer: The 3 common security flaws putting exam content at risk – and how to fix them
The user feature is very sophisticated in GradeMaker and allows you to control your users and set their access. When we set up your site, there are a range of role permissions that can be allocated to users making it easy to add or delete users, and allocate subjects or roles to them.
Roles can be allocated to in-house users or externals as required. With this level of control an external review allocated to work on a specific product will never see any content except items which they have been sent to look at. Similarly, a user with author permissions can only ever see content they have created or which has been sent back to them for corrections.
- MCQs (single or multiple correct response, vertical or horizontal layout, option for marks per correct/incorrect answer, multiple layout variants)
- short response (multiple layout variants)
- extended response
- fill-in-the-blanks (lines, boxes, free text, drop down list)
- matching (associate two lists, multiple correct answers)
- software programming
- composite (items comprising many parts and sub-parts)
- equation and file upload – and many others!
Mark scheme templates are generated automatically including for item parts/sub parts. ’Content blocks’ can be added to items to carry stimulus or rubric material and assets.
GraeMaker Pro software is designed to make the reviewer’s job easy, whether they are a frequent, or infrequent system user.
Reviewers can enter comments against the item including ‘inline’ (comments linked to a specific word). They can also ‘target’ comments and make them ‘mandatory’ so later users must acknowledge their remarks. Review comments are linked to the review cycle. A useful downloadable review history is available for items and tests. If several reviewers work concurrently, their comments are automatically compiled to one view making it easy to hold QPEC meetings for group discussion of reviews.
All review comments are held for quality assurance and easy access in the Notes & Actions hub attached to each item and paper. Users can easily search for review comments (e.g. ‘comments targeted to me, actions I have requested).
Quality Assurance forms can also be created and attached to a paper review cycle, so reviewers can receive a structured document to lodge comments (e.g. for test review). QA form questions can be set to be mandatory or optional.
The software offers rich options for metadata and tagging. Items can be tagged to Curriculum Frameworks, held in GradeMaker down to sub-sub-sub-topic level. The item can be mapped to each table. An item can also be mapped to more than one Curriculum Framework (supporting item re-use in different geographies or projects).
The item can be mapped to additional metadata fields e.g. Blooms. These can easily be customised to the clients needs. New fields can be added (numeric, numeric within limits, drop down list, free text). Fields can be set as mandatory or optional.
‘Session’ data fields are also supported, e.g. Facility, Difficulty. New session fields can easily be added. Session data can be viewed in the system for each item including longitudinal reporting showing the history of each data field each time the item is used. It is easy to link from the item to each past paper the item was used in.
The item bank can also be searched by tags and metadata fields (including combinations e.g. item type, Blooms, Difficulty, Topic etc). Paper metadata (e.g. session date, language etc.) is also supported, including the ability to add custom fields as a simple configuration step.
Users can assemble tests from the item bank, with a rich search functionality, selecting items by topic, skill, item type, item duration, difficulty, facility, item usage history, contains images/type of image, marks, item status, anchor item, author name, Item ID, Blooms plus other data fields.
In test view items can easily be reordered (‘send to item 28’). Users can add sections and test rubric. Mark schemes are auto-compiled. Accompanying booklets and inserts can be easily created. Tests can also be previewed (print and onscreen view).
Workflow is our term for the series steps to create an item or test – from when the author starts writing, through the stages of review and editing, to final approval.
Controlling your working processes is at the heart of good test development, and GradeMaker offers powerful workflow tools to help you do this – and makes it easy to do.
Workflows typically comprise three types of activity, sometimes repeated more than once:
Setting – this is the author who might be originating the content or making corrections.
Reviewing – reviewers comment and make recommendations. They can’t make changes.
Approving – approvers can edit and correct items, and send them on to new steps
Once items or tests are ready, workflow may then send them in different directions, for example to:
Pre-test – so items can be trialled for final approval and item banking
Item bank – for items which are approved
Typesetting – for papers which are ready for final layout
Exam ready – for papers which are ready for print or delivery online
Archive – for materials which are going direct to the library of ‘used’ exam materials
GradeMaker Pro is not an online test delivery platform but it supports the delivery of online exams; both through the authoring facility with many pre-templated item types suited to online testing, the preview facility (you can see what the student will see in the online platform via an integration, as you are authoring), and in the output to QTI, which is an industry standard XML output that enables the content to integrated into, and played in, most test players.
The Progress Report provides a complete progress record for all items, including the item writer that created them and their current workflow status. This report can indicate how many of a user’s items have been accepted in a particular authoring round, thus generating payment trigger information.
When users are set up, a ‘user code’ can be added to their record (for example matching their ID in a payments system). The Progress Report with user names and IDs can exported in Excel and (subject to payment system functionality) be loaded to payment software thereby supporting the payment process.
Useability is a key feature of the software. An author or reviewer only sees work that is allocated to them, in a clean and clear interface.
Once the author is within the relevant question template, they will find an easy-to-use text editing toolbar to apply any required styling to text within an item. Tables can be easily added, resized and formatted with borders and shading. Images within an item can be aligned and resized as required. As any of these changes are made by an author a preview of the item content is updated in real-time to allow them to see the results of their changes. They also create the mark scheme simultaneously and can add information about the item to the data fields. This travels with the item at all times. Once an author is happy with their work, they can simply press a button to move it to the next step in the workflow.
It’s simple! We work together through a 7 stage process, dependant on your requirements.
Stage 1: Project setup – in this first phase we work with your project team to identify and document project goals, governance approach and the risk and issue management processes.
Stage 2: Discovery – through a series of workshops the key elements of your current/desired content production operating model are documented and mapped to the key areas of the system.
Stage 3: Configuration – once the Discovery phase is complete we carry out initial site configuration and demonstrate this to the project team and key system users for feedback.
Stage 4: Validation – once the target configuration has been accepted by the customer team there is then a period of internal validation/acceptance testing to allow for a full test of the system.
Stage 5: Training – this stage can follow one of two models:
• Train-the-trainer: key users and internal ‘champions’ are identified and are provided with full training by GradeMaker on the agreed configuration of the system. A full set of support materials (user guides, how-to videos, one-page guides) are also provided and can then be customised by the customer team.
• Full user training: GradeMaker provide expert in-house trainers and undertake the customisation of all support materials on behalf of the customer. This training can be provided on-site or online/virtually as required.
Stage 6: Go-live – This can be either mean moving all the your assessment authoring into GradeMaker at once, or through a series of smaller, incremental phases of migration.
Stage 7: Support — Once your team are using the product live, we continue to support you and as we develop new features that will benefit you, we get together regularly to update you!
Yes! You can upload images, videos and audio files into the system.
You will be able to create fully templated print ready exam papers at the click of a button within GradeMaker Pro. What’s more, to match the preview we offer currently for online exam player output, you will now be able to preview the final print ready papers within the software too.
The style sheet driven output is ready to be printed, coming to you in the form of a print ready pdf. But for peace of mind, you can still make final adjustments, giving you the flexibility and the confidence to deliver accurate papers every time.
The GradeMaker Pro software supports pre-testing. You can place anchor items in the right place in tests, and upload performance data which is then stored with the item.
Yes. You can write content into the software in any language, including Chinese and Arabic.
Item or test templates can be created by administrative users which can then be assigned to an item writer. These templates can be used to pre-define as much of the structure of the item as is required (e.g. item type(s) used, number of answer options, marks available or any other item metadata) before they are allocated to a writer so that they can focus solely upon the authoring of question content.
At GradeMaker, security is at the centre of our entire business. We operate a full Information Security Management System and we have achieved ISO 27001 certification, the internationally recognised security standard. This provides our customers with assurance that all key security systems and processes are in place and well maintained. Each year our software is rigorously tested by independent experts who carry out ‘penetration testing’ and search for security vulnerabilities. In addition, every new release of our software is subjected to hundreds of automatic security tests. We do this multiple times to verify our software always provides industry leading levels of security for our customers.
Our software is hosted in the Amazon AWS cloud – world experts in secure hosting. Our infrastructure design is built to protect data, including Antivirus protection, firewalls, full encryption when data is in transit and on disk; including encrypted backups, a private network to access the database, encrypted discs and continuous monitoring of the site to ensure it is safe.
Further protection comes at login. User access is password protected, with industry standard encryption of credentials, and can be further enhanced by requiring the use of two-factor authentication. If required, ‘whitelist’ approved locations can be set so two-factor authentication is not required when accessing from the set locations. Further controls can be added forcing key user to always use two factor authentication regardless of their location if you wish, giving a flexible but secure solution.
Yes! Head over to our case studies page and you will see lots of examples from around the world.