How Do Online Exams Work?

Everything You Should Know About Online Exams

Fast technological development along with the COVID-19 outbreak has significantly altered the way we learn and teach. Nowadays, a growing number of educational institutions are switching from traditional pen and paper to online exams, which have proven to be more flexible, convenient, and effective for both teachers and test-takers.

In this article, we will dive into the concept of the online examination process, outline its key features and benefits, find out how online exams are conducted, and how to effectively implement them in your classroom.

What Is an Online Examination?

An online exam is a term used to describe a modern way of student assessment conducted on a computer, mobile phone, or other device with an internet connection. It is a convenient, more time- and cost-efficient way to test student knowledge in a wide range of fields. Thus, more and more educators tend to implement online exams in place of traditional class-based tests. 

An online exam usually implies using a special platform and such elements as a login page, where students enter their username and password; an exam interface, where the examinees view the questions and complete their answers; and a submit button, which sends the completed exam to the instructor.

Online exams stand out with some distinguishing features. Here are the most important of them:

  1. Diverse structure. Online exams can be delivered in a wide variety of formats, including different types of questions, such as multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, true/false, short answer, etc. This allows for a more customized assessment that can better target the specific test-taker’s skills.
  2. Automation. Online exams can be automatically graded. They don’t require a human who has to check the answers.
  3. Flexibility. Online examinations can be taken from any place and at any time, providing both students and educators with greater flexibility.
  4. Various proctoring solutions. In contrast to a class-based test, which is usually monitored by a live human invigilator, an online exam can be proctored in different ways. The integrity of such an assessment can be ensured by live remote, recorded, and AI-based proctoring software. Each of these solutions comes with a wide range of cutting-edge features, so every educational institution can find the most suitable option for their particular goals.

How Do Online Examination Tests Work?

An online exam usually works on the basis of special online examination software, which allows examiners to set up a user-friendly and secure testing environment. It could also include features like automatic question generation, exam scheduling, automatic grading, and more.

The process of online examination can be represented by the following steps:

  1. Choosing an online exam solution. Nowadays there is a great variety of examination systems and remote proctoring solutions so every educator can find the ones that best fit their needs and objectives. 
  2. Setting up the exam. Once the software is chosen, you need to decide on the type of online exam (whether it will be timed or untimed), its structure, and the questions.
  3. Conducting the exam. You have to set exam timeframes (start and end date), prepare the instructions for examinees (if necessary), and when everything is ready, put the exam online and share its URL with test-takers. Participants, in turn, click the link that leads them to the exam web page, log in, and after passing a multistep authentication process, commence the test.
  4. Evaluation. To finish an online examination, test-takers need to click on the submit button. If an exam platform supports automatic evaluation, the results of the test are auto-graded and presented in the form of a real-time report. The final results and certificates can also be sent to participants via e-mail or become available in the student account on the exam platform in PDF or HTML formats.

What Are the Advantages of Conducting Online Examination Tests?

The COVID-19 pandemic has become an important factor that fostered the development of remote learning solutions. Although coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns are already in the past, the widespread adoption of e-learning and online exams will continue gaining momentum. Let’s have a closer look at the benefits of online examinations that lure more and more educators to implement them in the teaching process.

  1. Flexibility. Online exams can be taken from any place and at any suitable time. The only requirement is a robust internet connection. Moreover, they offer better scheduling abilities and can be different types (timed or untimed) and various formats (multiple choice, short answers, long answers, and other types of questions).
  2. Cost efficiency. An online examination is an economical solution for both examinees and examiners. Students don’t need to travel to a special exam center and spend money on associated costs, and educators don’t have to print examination materials, hire in-person invigilators, pay administrative costs, etc.
  3. Enhanced security. Online exams usually come with multistep authentication and improved proctoring, which significantly reduces student misconduct and helps to protect the integrity of the assessment process.
  4. Easier grading. Many online examination systems offer an auto evaluation feature, which makes the grading process much faster. What’s more, digital evaluation is less prone to mistakes and inaccuracies.
  5. Accessibility. Online assessment solutions erase the geographical boundaries, making education more accessible. Educational institutions, in turn, can benefit from wider student coverage.

What to Consider in Online Examination Test Software

To conduct an efficient online examination it’s crucial to choose test software that will comply best with your needs, expectations, and objectives. Here are some tips to consider when opting for test software.

  • Before buying any software, pay attention to the vendor details, such as experience on the market, reviews, former clients, service fees, etc.

  • Explore the features offered by a particular solution and compare them with your needs. Pay attention to the level of customization, types of questions that can be implemented in the test, if there are scheduling and evaluation features, etc.

  • Ensure the examination software is user-friendly and compatible with various computer systems.

  • Find out how the online examination test software ensures the security of an exam, what technologies are used to conduct authentication and verification processes, how it protects examination integrity, and more.

How To Conduct an Online Exam

Nowadays, online test solutions come with different sets of features and abilities. However, there are some basic steps that are necessary to conduct any type of online examination.

  1. Customization. At this stage, educators have to adjust the exam settings to make a perfect match with their needs and expectations.
  2. Sharing. Once the test is ready, educators share it with participants with a link or a special invitation.
  3. Authentication process. To commence an online test, examinees are usually asked to provide a scan of their authentication documents and turn on their webcam, so the examination system can compare the information from two different sources.
  4. Monitoring. Apart from choosing a suitable exam managing system, educators need to opt for a proctoring solution, which will help to red-flag any suspicious student activities and ensure a cheating-free examination environment.
  5. Review. Online exam solutions usually allow for recording and storing examination data. Thus, it’s possible to review exam results to resolve any controversies and keep track of a student's progress.

What Are the Different Ways of Proctoring Online Exams?

The majority of online proctoring solutions fall into three main categories: live remote, recorded, and AI proctoring.

Live Remote Proctoring

Live remote proctoring implies that an online exam is supervised in real time by a human invigilator through the webcam and microphone of examinees. This type of proctoring is not as flexible as the other two since students have to determine the date and time of the examination, but it fits best for important assessments that may require communication between participants and a proctor.

Recorded Proctoring

Recorded proctoring solutions are based on special software that records and stores the entire examination process, so after the end of the test, a human proctor can review the audio-visual feeds to eliminate any forms of cheating.

AI Proctoring

AI or automated proctoring is a cutting-edge solution that monitors the whole examination process without any human intervention. This type of software involves features of machine learning and human analysis to identify undesirable student activities by analyzing suspicious eye movements, repetitive behavior, irregular heartbeat, etc. If academic cheating is spotted, the software will flag the exam for further review.

Tips to Take an Online Proctored Exam

Since the popularity of online exams is increasing, it’s important to be aware of how to conduct and take such types of assessment most effectively. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

For educators:

  • Try to develop an exam with clear instructions and an intuitive design.
  • Make sure your private information stays protected.
  • Before launching your test, make sure it functions correctly.
  • Provide your test-takers with flexibility.

For examinees:

  • Make sure you choose a calm, comfortable, and distraction-free environment to take an exam.
  • Double-check your internet connection and make sure your computer system complies with the exam requirements.
  • Read instructions attentively and familiarize yourself with the format of the online test.
  • Don’t forget to keep track of the time if an examination has a time limit.


Online exams are a fast-growing trend in the educational sphere. They allow for greater flexibility, time, and cost efficiency, which is not always possible with traditional, in-person exams. What’s more, online examinations have the potential to reduce the level of academic dishonesty since they come with improved proctoring solutions that are able to protect the integrity of online learning courses. 

Nowadays, there is a wide choice of online exam solutions that offer numerous test formats and proctoring features. All you need to do to pick the most suitable one is to research their functionalities and compare them with your educational needs and objectives.


How are exams done online?

In the post-pandemic period, the educational system has developed and adapted to the demands of the technological era by offering online examinations. They are conducted remotely using a computer or other device with an internet connection. Online exams can be of various formats and can include a great number of features such as online proctoring, which helps to eliminate cheating and protect the reputation of educational institutions in the digital environment.

Can I use a mobile during an online exam?

Since an online exam is regulated by similar rules to a class-based exam, examinees are usually not supposed to use mobile phones or other devices while taking an online test. Undesirable activities and the use of forbidden objects can be deterred by some proctoring solutions that can analyze the examination settings and unusual student behavior.

Do students cheat more in online classes?

Cheating is one of the greatest concerns in the educational sphere. E-learning and online exams are also prone to this problem. However, rapid technological development has introduced new advanced proctoring solutions that are more effective, scalable, and customizable. 

How do online exams prevent cheating?

Online exams are becoming more and more popular among educational institutions since they have proven to be more effective, secure, and less prone to cheating. They usually come with a multistep authentication process and wide variety of anti-cheating features, such as blocking browser, noise detection, video-audio monitoring, recording, content protection, and more.