Guide to writing online exams

Writing and successfully completing an exam online has similar strategies to writing an on-campus exam. The following tips will help you to reduce your exam anxiety. A full version of this information is located at the links provided at the bottom of the page.

Know your exam guidelines and expectations

  • Understanding from your instructor's course outline what you “need to know” for your course exam.
  • Read and reread exam guidelines thoroughly and well in advance of your exam date.
  • Know the date and time of your exam and make a calendar entry.
  • Know how long you have to complete your exam.
  • If you have to submit the exam before a specific time (and online), plan enough time to submit through myClass.
  • Know the exam format (short answers, multiple-choice, case analysis, essay or combination of different formats).

Know and understand the material

  • Prepare to learn the material well and study without thinking about the exam format.
  • Start studying by first reviewing the syllabus, with a special focus on course objectives.
  • Focus on understanding, connecting and applying course concepts, not memorizing.
  • Know and understand course materials well before exam time and don't expect to have time to go through other resources.

Get organized

  • Know if your exam is an open book and follow the given instructions.
  • Prepare any course materials to allow quick and easy access to the exact locations you’ll need.
  • Know your course material thoroughly.
  • Find a quiet, secluded space near a power outlet to do the exam where you won’t be distracted or interrupted.
  • Check that the area has a strong, reliable Wi-Fi signal or utilize a wired internet connection.
  • Prepare everything that you’ll need at exam time (i.e. computer or laptop with power cable; paper, pencils, and eraser; a full water bottle; prepared course materials, etc.

Get tech-ready

  • Install any specific applications or particular web browser.
  • Understand all the technical requirements for the exam and check your computer is up to the task.
  • Test the link to the exam with lots of time to spare, and if there’s a chance to do a practice run-through, do so.
  • Check ahead of time the internet signal and connectivity is stable and reliable in your exam location.
  • Check with your instructor what to do in case of technical problem.
  • Get familiar with these steps and ensure you have your instructor’s contact information.
  • Learn how to take a screenshot on your computer so you can capture and save any error messages in case of technical glitches.

What to do at exam time

  • Be in your designated and prepared space at least 15-30 minutes before exam start time.
  • Turn off your cell phone and put it where you can’t see or reach it.
  • Keep something nearby that shows the time, other than your computer (turn cell phone notification settings to mute or off).
  • Keep your exam browser open at all times and a Word blank document (save the text file frequently).
  • Review the format and value of the sections and questions, and complete time-planning about how long to spend on each.
  • Save time at the end for review, if possible.
  • Understand the importance of academic honesty in all situations, including online formats.
  • Review and understand UFV’s academic integrity policies before your exam.
  • Be aware of what is permitted and not permitted during the exam. (i.e. use class notes or other resources during the exam)
  • Read each question carefully and make sure you understand what you are being asked to do.
  • Make sure, with essay questions, that you answer/address all components of the question.
  • If you get confused or need more time on one question, move to the next one and return to the question later.
  • Click ‘save’ or ‘submit’ your answers if the system does not save your answers automatically.
  • Take a screenshot of the confirmation notice showing that have completed the exam.

What to do after the exam

  • When the exam is complete, give yourself a high five and take time to celebrate completing this exam.
  • Reflect on how the exam went for you. What went well? Which study/preparation strategies worked best for you? Is there anything you’d like to do differently next time?

Material adapted from:

Brock University – Tips for Online Exams

York University Tips for Online Exams

Lynn's headshot

I’ve taken online courses from other institutions, and UFV’s dedication to technologies made for my best overall online learning experience.

The most important thing about my experience at UFV is the feeling that I mattered to the school and my instructors. I wasn’t just a faceless student, even in an online environment. I also widened my perspective and learned so much from sharing through online discussion and collaboration with other students from all across Canada and other parts of the world.

  • – Lynn Cartan
  •    Adult Education, 2020 graduate

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