Online tests can sometimes be faster to take than paper tests and often allow you to know your score immediately, but there are a number of ways online tests can be much more difficult and produce more anxiety. We'll focus on a few areas you have control over this semester to make online tests slightly less challenging.
Review exam guidelines. Every instructor approaches tests a little differently. Take a few moments to answer the following questions about your upcoming exam.
- What are the "rules" for taking exams?
- Are you allowed to use external materials like notes or a textbook? What about the internet generally?
- Can you have scrap paper out on your desk to work out problems or note questions you'd like to come back to?
- Does your faculty member require the use of third party software like a lockdown browser or equipment like a webcam? If so, what behaviors will trigger the third party software to flag cheating? Can you take a break during the test to use the restroom or get water? Will eating or drinking be a problem? What about pausing to think about a question or staring at the ceiling while you think?
Understand the format. In addition to understanding what the "rules" of the exam are and what material is covered, find out everything you can about the format.
- Will the answers be shuffled? Are the questions shuffled?
- Do you have more than one attempt?
- How much time is given?
- Can you see one question at a time or the whole test at once?
- Can you skip questions and come back to them later?
- Are the questions all multiple choice or are there other formats as well?
- Is the test cumulative?
Communicate with your faculty.
- Ask your faculty member the questions above if you cannot find the answers.
- You may also want to communicate with them before, during, or after the test if you run into any issues or have additional questions. This is particularly important if you run into technology issues.
- If something happens during the test, even if you can still finish the test, you may want to let your faculty member know. They can not evaluate how well the technology is working if they do not hear from you.
Test your tech.
- As much as possible, try to test your technology before the big test. The University created a Canvas site where you can test the Respondus system before an exam. With a little planning, you can head off some of the most common technology glitches. That doesn't mean everything will go smoothly, technology can still break, but you might be able to prevent some issues.
- Is your internet connection stable?
- Is your computer updated?
- Will you need to download anything for the software to work?
- Do you have the correct operating system and web browser?
Set-up your test environment.
- Plan ahead for how, where, and when you will take your test. Some of us are sharing spaces more than we used to. If that is your situation, let your household know when you are taking the test so they can be helpful in limiting distractions.
- What kinds of distractions exist in your house?
- Would it be helpful to ask your roommates to be quiet? To take your dog for a walk right before the test? To shut your cat out of the room? Ask a family member to watch a child or an animal during the test?
- Do you want to find a place to test outside your house? What are the distractions in that environment?
What is within your control is knowledge and planning. The more you know, the more prepared you'll be. Remember School House Rock taught us knowledge is power.