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Success Tips for Taking Online Exams

March 14, 2014 by Kelly Paul |

ExamTaking an online exam is just like taking a face-to-face exam, only different.

Seriously, the same strategies for acing a regular exam also apply to online tests. But other rules apply as well. The following tips will help you score as high as possible on your online test, partly by making sure you avoid mistakes that have nothing to do with how well you know the material.


Study in advance. Students sometimes assume that, because they can’t be seen during an online exam, they can check their books or notes during the test. Even if you’re “invisible,” checking books and notes cuts down on the time you actually have to take the exam. Getting two more answers right doesn’t help if you can’t finish the last ten questions. It’s important to study so you know the material before you begin.

Also, unless the exam is Open Book, using your texts or notes during the exam is considered CHEATING. Don’t do it.

If the exam is open book, you still need to study and master the material ahead of time to maximize your test time and efficiency, thus earning yourself the best grade you can.

Find a quiet place to take the exam. Exams are time-limited. Find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted. If it’s home, tell your family when the exam is and set up the rules for quiet. If you know this won’t work, look elsewhere. Local or college libraries often offer quiet rooms for study. Not a good idea: the coffee shop.

Check the tech requirements. Is your computer set up the way you need it to be? Do you have a link to the testing platform? Know your password? Check that you can get to the test site and know how to log on well before the test.

Also, webcam monitoring is going to become more common. If your course uses a webcam monitor during exams to prevent cheating, be sure that it is set up correctly and know what you can and cannot do. Webcam monitors can be set up to see your hands and head, your computer screen, and a 180view of the room.

Check the test parameters. You need to know several things about how the test is being conducted. Check the syllabus. It may answer some of these questions.

  • How long is the test?
  • Can you log out and log in again?
  • Can you go back to a previous test question or do you have to submit an answer before proceeding?

Knowing the test parameters will help you use your time effectively during the test.


Only keep the exam window open. Keeping other windows open is a sign of cheating. Also, it slows down the responsiveness of the exam and costs you time. So make sure the exam window is the only one you have open.

Keep track of your time. At the beginning of the test, estimate how much time you should spend on each section so you can be sure to finish everything.

Don’t cheat. Tests are meant to be an accurate measure of what students actually know.  You wouldn’t want a doctor who cheated on his medical exams or a mechanic who didn’t really understand an engine. The system only works when people are trustworthy.

At most colleges or universities, cheating is an honor code violation. Cheating can make you flunk the test, flunk the course, and/or be expelled from the program or university.

Following these tips should help you do well with your online exams. Do you have any other tips to add to the list?

By: Coventry Kessler

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