Succeeding at Remote Exams

Be sure you know how the exam will run before you begin. Are you able to go back to previous questions and change your answers? Carefully read any instructions and ask questions in advance.

  • Have all your materials ready, such as:
    • Computer and power cable,
    • Access to reliable internet and power,
    • Textbooks, lecture slides, notes, writing utensils and paper (as allowed).

Check out these general strategies for exams.

  • Practice with a timer, and make sure you can use your keyboard effectively. Your preparation should be as similar as possible to the real thing.
  • Choose your space carefully to avoid unwanted interruptions and distractions: let those around you know that you will be writing an exam and need to concentrate. Put your phone on silent, turn it off or put it away.

If you are allowed an aid sheet or it is an open book test

During take-home and online exams, you may have access to the material you will be tested on, but open book exams require careful preparation. Make sure you know what tools are and are not allowed.

You will need to organize your materials and notes in order to retrieve the information quickly and effectively. Try colour coding your post-it notes for themes, questions or problem types. 

Especially when you need to respond to questions quickly, a short and focused aid sheet is very useful. For instance, consider matching a list of equations with the likely key words or variables that you anticipate getting from the questions. This can help you be prepared for unfamiliar questions that ask you to apply the concepts you have learned in a new way. Design your aid sheet to help you find and apply your information quickly.

  • Have plenty of paper on hand to jot down your ideas.
  • If you are allowed, go back and check all your answers before submitting.
  • A notebook or numbered pages can help you find the “scratch” work that you’ve done in preparation.

Avoid academic offences:

  • Write in your own words and cite as necessary to avoid plagiarism.
  • When preparing for exams, never copy and paste from a website! Summarize the information in your own words to prevent accidentally using someone else’s work.
  • Do not contact peers who are writing the same exam and do not share answers unless specifically encouraged to do so by your professor.
  • Do not copy, distribute or share the questions after the exam is finished.
  • Stay on the exam website. Use another browser window to search for any needed information if allowed.
  • Check your work for mistakes.
  • Save backups of information in case of glitches. For example, you might be able to write your paper in a word processor and paste it into the exam site. Check with your professor.
  • Follow instructions! Some professors require that you email attachments, or link to the Cloud, or download to Moodle. Do not assume that the rules from one instructor will be the rules for another class. Think of the exam as a job requirement – would you tell your boss that you’ll be doing the job your way rather than following their instructions?
  • Click “submit” and keep a record of submission or receipt such as a screen shot.
  • Do not resave your work as you will have a different time stamp than your submission.

    If you have technological problems, document and report any issues immediately!

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