With midterm exams fast-approaching and students going fully remote after Thanksgiving, we curated these 16 tips for online test-taking to help you prepare.
Before the Exam
- Make sure you check, re-check, and follow all details and instructions. If you are prepared, you should know the answers to the following questions:
- Date and time – Is the exam held at a specific time (synchronously), or is it due by a specific time and date (asynchronously)? Make sure to pay attention to “AM or PM,” (such as noon vs midnight.)
- What are the system requirements such as lockdown browser?
- Format and structure – Will it be timed? Will all questions be presented at once? Are you able to skip questions and go back? Will the questions be more objective or based on application? Objective requires recognition and recall of subject matter, while application requires analysis, evaluation and recommendation.
- Is it open-book and/or open-note? This can be counterintuitive and could mean the exam is a little more challenging, so you still need to study and prepare as you would for any rigorous exam.
Note: These questions and answers can inform how you need to study for the exam. Understanding your professors’ expectations might mean making sure you ask questions about the list above. Before asking your professor, read the syllabus.
- Familiarize yourself with system requirements such as the lockdown browser. Make sure you have it downloaded and it’s working properly.
- Designate a space. Find a comfortable and quiet space where you can limit distractions in order to concentrate.
- Schedule time in your week to study for specific classes and give yourself ample lead time. Begin studying 10-12 days in advance, even if it’s just reviewing the material, breaking it down and doing a little at a time. Review your material after each lecture and utilize practice exams if they’re available. If they’re not available, use Quizlet to create practice exams for yourself with content from the textbook, lecture, quizzes and homework.
- Allow yourself enough time. If you know the exam will close at 11:59 p.m. and you’ve been given one hour to complete it, starting later than 10:50 p.m. will not afford you extra time and may result in you being locked out of the exam before you finish. If you wait until the last minute, Murphy’s Law will inevitably take effect. Giving yourself wiggle room can help alleviate stress and give you time to manage any technical issues.
- Make sure your computer and WiFi are working properly on the day of the exam. Check at least 30 minutes before. It’s also wise to restart your computer before an exam.
During the Exam
- Look over the whole exam if you can. If you’re able to skip questions and go back, read through all of the questions first, then begin with the questions you feel most confident about.
- If the test is timed:
- Avoid checking the time in the middle of answering a question or working a problem.
- Check the clock at intervals (every 2 or 3 questions).
- Don’t spend too long on one question. Stuck on a multiple-choice question? Use the process of elimination.
- Set a timer for a 10-minute warning if it would be helpful for you.
- Technical issues? Don’t panic.
- Have your professor’s contact information written down so you can let them know immediately.
- Take pictures or screenshots if possible.
- Take a deep breath! Practice mindfulness. Have a list of techniques that help you relax in case you begin to feel anxious, nervous or stressed. Practice these breathing techniques prior to the exam to re-focus and stay calm.
- Don’t leave the test page! Online exams are typically one attempt, so do not assume you can close the test page or leave it and come back.
- Do you have time left? Review the questions and your answers before you submit.
- Click submit!
After the Exam
- Assess – How do you think you did? Note any areas where you would like to focus attention for future study sessions. Did most of the test items come from the homework, lecture, textbook or quizzes? Analyzing this will help you know how to study next time.
- Check your grade – Ask your instructor for details and feedback. Rework missed test items to enhance your learning.
- Reflect – Ask yourself how you can improve on the next exam and use this to create a study guide.