7 Tips for Taking Online Exams


Learn about different online exam formats, the tools you may need, and tips for online exam success.

So, you’ve arrived at the first checkpoint of the semester for your online class: Exam Season. It can feel overwhelming to prepare for exams in a new format and it’s natural to be a little nervous. That’s where we come in! We’re here to help you prepare for your online exams so you can feel and perform your best.

Ohio State’s online classes and programs are designed specifically for a distance learning format, and instructors often develop their exams and other course materials alongside an instructional designer – an educational specialist who is an expert in translating course content to an online format.

We collected advice from Ohio State’s Dennis Learning Center, as well as Ohio State’s instructional design team to share the best tips for online exams. Explore our tips below, and set yourself up for success in online classes. Best of luck!

1. Take a Breath 

First things first: You can do this! Preparing well can go a long way toward easing your anxiety.

According to Ohio State’s Dennis Learning Center, “one of the biggest causes of test anxiety is feeling unprepared." This lack of confidence often occurs when we don’t trust our proficiency in the material.

Try completing a practice test – even if you need to create it yourself based on your notes or past quizzes. Practice tests create a feedback mechanism that can bolster your confidence in the material you’ve mastered already, while also highlighting areas for improvement. Familiarizing yourself with the mechanics of test taking can also alleviate some pressure and help you concentrate on what matters – the content.

2. Check Your Tech

Make sure you have all the tech you’ll need in the location where you will take your exam. Double check that your Wi-Fi signal is strong, your laptop is charged, your device is updated, and you have access to the software or platforms you need to access the online exam.

Explore tech requirements for online classes at Ohio State


3. Control Your Environment

Have proactive discussions with your family, friends, roommates about creating a distraction-free space for taking your online exam. We know many students are balancing work, family and other responsibilities while completing their classes online. If your home isn’t the best place for you to focus, consider taking your online exam from another location with strong Wi-Fi. Many libraries (both on-campus and in the community) have private study rooms you can reserve to ensure a quiet and calm space. A calm and quiet environment is especially important if you are taking an exam that it monitored with a remote proctoring software, like Proctorio, as background noise and movement can trigger a flag and lock you out of the exam.


4. Understand the Format

Not all online exams resemble the standardized tests from your K-12 days. Yes, your online exam may be a timed multiple-choice test on CarmenCanvas or other learning management system, but it could also be a graded conversation over Zoom with your instructor. You might also be asked to create a video, a presentation, a flyer, or some other interesting product. No matter what format your online exam takes, developing a clear understanding of the instructor’s expectations will set you up for success.


5. Protect the Integrity of Your Work 

The academic integrity of your online exams and projects is important to preserve fairness and to honor the hard work you’re putting in. As such, some online exams may require remote proctoring using Proctorio or similar remote proctoring tools. Be sure to check the syllabus or ask your instructor about final exam expectations. Similarly, for written assignments or projects, Turnitin may be used to ensure academic integrity.


6. Know the Tools

By this point in the semester, you are likely familiar with CarmenCanvas or other learning management systems, but take a few minutes to ensure you know how to access your online exam content.

If online exams require Proctorio, our article Tips for Taking Your Exam with Proctorio can help. There are some simple things you can do to make it a smooth process. If your department or program uses an alternative tool, such as ExamSoft, you should receive information from your instructor.


7. Prioritize Your Work

You might have a lot of online exams and projects to coordinate. Consider what due dates are coming up first. Which online exams will require the most preparation? Make thoughtful decisions about how to spend your time leading up to your exams. Leverage tools like Microsoft To-Do or Microsoft Planner.

Last modified: 
May 31, 2022