How to Prepare for Your Online Exams

It’s May, which means two things are fast approaching: exams and semester break. I’ll wager you’re only excited about one of them. With Zoom classes creating a new virtual learning space for students amid COVID-19, SRC Vice President of Education (Undergrad) Sarah Cupitt explains what you need to know to prepare for your online exams.

Photo by Burst on Unsplash


The lack of communication to students has become an issue raised in Student Taskforce Meetings on several occasions. Students haven’t received any information besides an email with the date that their exams will take place, with more details coming soon. Other students are waiting to find out if assessment considerations will change to an assignment or take-home exam. 

Lisa Field, Examinations Team Leader, Acting, replied to the Student Taskforce in April addressing raised concern about online exams saying, “Students cannot wear a watch, but the time displays on every computer. The students have been provided with instructions in their email as well as a link to FAQs.”

Planning, Revision and Preparation

Online exams are likely to be a new model of assessment for you here are some tips to help you to plan successfully, revise and prepare.

1. Show up for Your Exam

  • Don’t accidentally be that person who overslept
  • If you don’t sign-in on time, you could be locked out altogether
  • Know what time your exams are (or alternately, how long you have to take them) and be at your laptop or computer, ready to pounce

2. Prepare your Device

  • You can’t afford any interruptions to your power, internet connection, or device functionality
  • Make sure you’ve tested the link and software you’ll need for the exam – and download all updates before the day of your test
  • Anticipate technical problems – mainly WiFi – if you get cut off you might not be able to finish your exam
  • TIP: leave your device plugged into an outlet while you take the exam, so you don’t have to worry about the battery dying

3. Don’t be Fooled – It’s Not an Open Book Exam

  • A real person supervises your exams during and after the test
  • ‘Proctoring’ is another word for exam supervision
  • Western Sydney University is working with ProctorU to provide this service to students for 2020 exams
  • There are two ways your exam may take place: Live+ means a real person will supervise your exam in real-time via your webcam and Review+ means you and your screen will be recorded and reviewed by Proctor U after the exam session

4. Don’t Try Collaborative Cheating

  • It’s academic misconduct, ethically wrong – and you’ll get caught.
  • Don’t sit an exam with your classmate next to you.
  • Don’t use post-it notes on your device, and don’t even think about the copy and paste function.

5. The Day of Your Exam

  • Carve out a quiet test-taking spot with minimal distractions
  • Let your roommates or family know not to interrupt you during that time
  • Make sure to turn off all notifications from your phone, email, and elsewhere (or, set them to silent)
  • Be aware of any potential time limits – keep your eye on the clock
  • Once logged in, take a moment to relax and get focused. 

6. Don’t Forget to Submit

  • Don’t forget to click the “Submit” button at the end
  • Go back through your exam and review your work
  • If something goes wrong, take screenshots and notify your instructor right away.

7. Request Feedback

  • Ask your academic or unit coordinator for feedback
  • The process isn’t over just because you’ve received a letter grade
  • Your goal should be to understand why you received the result that you did and to find out what you could have done better.

Visit the Library Study Smart Website for more exam study tips and guidance.

Published: Medium & W’SUP


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