Top Tips for Online Test-Taking

The COVID-19 pandemic with its long-lasting lockdowns has underlined the importance and effectiveness of distance learning. If it hadn’t been for digital classes and online exams, the process of education would have been harmed dramatically, leaving millions of students worldwide without the ability to gain knowledge for quite a long time. Despite the convenience of e-learning, there are still many questions about its integrity, especially when it comes to online test-taking. 

Luckily, worldwide digitalization has provided us not only with the opportunity to study at any time and in any place but also with numerous cutting-edge solutions to ensure an ethical academic environment. In this article, we will explore the key features of various types of online exams and provide you with useful tips for test-taking.

Types of Online Exams and Tests

Educational institutions have significantly progressed and adjusted to the digital learning ecosystem. When it comes to online assessment techniques, there is a growing number of various innovative solutions, making this process more efficient and less cumbersome. Let’s have a look at the most common types of exams that you can come across while studying online.

Timed Exam Online

Timed exams imply that students are limited in time when answering the test questions. This type of exam may impose timeframes for the whole test session (e.g., 2 hours to complete all tasks), for each part of the test (e.g., 30 minutes for each section), or for each question (e.g., 1 minute for each answer). 

Timed tests are considered to be quite stressful, especially if the students are not prepared correctly, or if they don’t have previous experience. Thus, test-takers are advised to do similar practice exams to understand what pace to keep during a real session.

Untimed Exams

Untimed exams, in contrast to the above-mentioned type, don’t limit online students in time but concentrate more on the depth of the answers. While timed exams are commonly used for technical subjects like math or science, untimed tests usually assess knowledge in the humanities and related subjects, especially if the questions require a detailed response.

When taking this type of exam, make sure you have a profound understanding of the subject. Moreover, when answering questions, check if there is an opportunity to skip and return to them later.

Live Online Proctored Exams

Live online proctored exams are very similar to traditional in-person tests. There is a proctor in the class who monitors verification and the whole online examination process through a student’s web camera and microphone. Since this type of test requires a human supervisor, the time of the exam is fixed and must be booked in advance.

Live remote proctoring is also a stressful exam practice. Many students can’t concentrate on their tasks because they think that they are constantly being watched by the invigilator.

Record-and-Review Proctored Exams

Recorded proctoring implies that students take an online exam while their video and audio feed is recorded. Later, this data is reviewed by a proctor to identify any undesirable activities. This type of exam is more widespread than live online proctoring since it’s more time- and cost-efficient. However, it doesn’t work without a human invigilator.

In contrast, to live remotely proctored exams, record-and-review tests are less stressful. However, it’s recommended to practice recording yourself to ensure you have chosen the right camera angle and to feel more confident during the test. 

Automated Proctored Exams

An automated proctored exam is an AI-based type of online testing that doesn’t require human intervention. In this case, the recorded examination is reviewed by special software that scans the feed for any fraudulent activities, and if it red-flags anything, it sends a report to the human proctor, who checks the case.

Automated proctored exams stand out with their time and cost-efficiency. Moreover, they come with great flexibility, allowing students to choose any time and date to take the test.

Best Things to Do Before an Exam

When taking an online test, you should be prepared for it to be very different from its class-based counterpart. Here are some tips to keep in mind when preparing for an online examination.

Check the Exam Rules

Make sure you know the exam format (timed or untimed) and what type of questions it will consist of (multiple-choice, detailed answer, fill-in-the-blank, etc., or a combination of different kinds). What’s more, review the rules of test-taking to understand what is limited or permitted during the session. Last but not least, find out if there are any computer system requirements (for example, blocking browser).

Follow All Details and Guidelines

Reread and follow the test instructions. Make sure you know:
  • how long the exam will last;
  • if it should be taken on a particular date or if the schedule is flexible;
  • if there are requirements for the place where you will take the test, etc. 

Prepare Your Test-Taking Area

Ready a comfortable space where you will not be interrupted. If you share your apartment with other people, make sure they will not disturb you during the exam. Remove any restricted objects (for example, phones, notes, etc.) from the exam area. Remember to plug in your computer or laptop to avoid running out of battery.

Test Your Computer Systems

It’s important to re-check if your computer system complies with the exam requirements. Also, make sure you have a good internet connection. Note that it’s usually advisable to use hardwire internet instead of WiFi to avoid any network breakdowns. It would also be reasonable to develop a plan of action in case any technical issues occur during the exam.

During the Online Examination

Once you’ve prepared everything, it’s time to concentrate and start your test. Here are some useful tips for test-taking.

Keep Track of Time

The majority of exams usually come with some sort of time limit. It’s recommended not to stay on one question for very long. Also, it’s better to avoid checking the time too often, especially when you’re in the middle of a question. You can set an alarm (for example, 30 minutes before the end of the test) to manage your time more efficiently.

Review the Entire Exam if You Can

If there is a possibility to go back to all the questions, it’s reasonable to check all your answers to find any mistakes or just to feel more confident. Plus, if it’s allowed, it’s better to save both exam questions and your answers to them in case of any disputes about the grade.

Don’t Leave the Test Page

If you are allowed to use the internet, make sure you have two separate browser tabs for your exam and the search. Otherwise, you can close the test page by mistake, thus losing all your answers or even failing the examination.

Don’t Panic When Facing Any Technical Issues

If there is a technical problem, the first thing to do is to stay calm. In this situation, it’s good to have the contact number or email of the invigilator or examination center, so you can explain your problem immediately and in detail, attaching screenshots if possible.

After the Exam

Let’s have a look at some tips that will help you after the test is already written and submitted.

Assess and Reflect

After finishing the test, give yourself time for reflection. Look through your notes, check the questions you weren’t sure about, and find the answers to the ones you didn’t manage to solve. This will help you not only to assess your progress in this examination but also to analyze what you could do better both during the test and at the stage of exam preparation.

Check Your Grade

As soon as you know your grade, review the answers and check if everything is correct. You can also ask the instructor for feedback or explanations in case there are any ambiguities.


How do you do well on an online test?

Apart from studying well, to succeed in your online exam, it’s necessary to pay attention to the test requirements, follow the guidelines, ensure a robust internet connection, and find a space where you will not be distracted by other students or noises. During an exam, it’s important to monitor your time and reread your answers at the end of the session if possible.

What should you avoid when taking an online test? 

When undergoing an online exam, avoid checking the time too often; it’s better to monitor it after a particular interval, for example, after every 3 questions. What’s more, never leave the test page. If you are allowed to search for information on the internet, it’s recommended to have separate browsers or at least browser tabs for the exam page and the search.

How should students prepare for an online examination?

There are several tips that students should keep in mind when preparing for an online exam. Firstly, they need to know the type of the exam and the types of questions it will involve. Secondly, it’s important to find out if the examination date is fixed or if it’s possible to take the test at any date and time. Last but not least, students should prepare a comfortable and quiet area for test-taking and make sure they have a good internet connection.

How do you conduct an online test?

Firstly, it’s important to decide on the type of test you are going to conduct. It can be live proctored, record-and-review proctored, or fully automated. Then, you need to choose a suitable software solution that will help you organize exams more efficiently and securely. After that, you can move to the student registration process and the examination itself.

What should students do when facing technical difficulties during testing?

If you face some technical issues while taking an online test, the main rule is not to panic. Try to contact the instructor or the exam center and explain your problem. If it’s possible, it would be better to send them some screenshots as proof.