Presently, a lot of people learn through internet and therefore, online education provides an ideal learning solution with the convenience to learners of any age and with the most diverse life experience. 

There are important aspects that make up online learning, one being the online examinations process. However, how online exams are done and what makes them safe and reliable? 

This comprehensive guide looks at every aspect concerning the conduct of online exams, starting with scheduling, proctoring and types of questions.

Scheduling Online Exams

Initially, it is important to understand the scheduling process for online exams. Such online courses often run on a predefined syllabus and the examination is usually conducted within that framework. Here’s how it works:

1. Course Calendar: The instructors also give a course calendar consisting the date for assignments, quizzes, and exams. This is a kind of guide that helps students know how to arrange their study schedules effectively.
2. Exam Dates and Times: In a way, online exams must be scheduled at certain dates and time prescribed by the course instructor or the school. Students are always notified on time to give them enough time to do their arrangements.
3. Time Zones: Because, the online learners can be situated in various time zones and such aspects should be taken into consideration during the exams schedule. Tools that indicate the exam time in local time could be used by instructors.

Accessing the Exam Platform

When the exam dates are due, students should log into the exam pages. This step may vary depending on the institution or course, but it generally involves the following:
1. Login Credentials: The learning institution gives each student a unique password to log on to the exam platform. Such credentials provide safe entry into the exam room.
2. Technical Requirements: Most of the time students are expected to carry out a system check before the test to ascertain that the device is okay and that there is reliable internet and the right browsers.
3. Practice Tests: To this end, some learning institutions allow students to do practice tests and sit for mock or simulation exams that prepare them on the online exam platform. This could lessen the anxiety and the technical hiccups during the actual exam.

Image alt text: how online exams are conducted

Author credit: By Michael Surran – Students taking a computerized exam, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Understanding Exam Formats

Online exams can take various formats, depending on the course and the instructor’s preferences. Here are some common exam formats you might encounter:

1. Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs): MCQs are a common format where students choose the correct answer from a set of options. These questions are often automated, making grading efficient.

2. Short Answer and Essay Questions: Some exams include short answer or essay questions that require students to provide written responses. Instructors may use plagiarism detection tools to ensure the integrity of these answers.

3. File Uploads: In certain cases, students may be required to upload files, such as essays, projects, or spreadsheets, as their exam submissions.

4. Oral Examinations: Online courses that focus on language proficiency or verbal skills may conduct oral exams through video conferencing platforms.

Proctoring and Security Measures

Maintaining the integrity of online exams is a top priority for educational institutions. To prevent cheating and ensure fairness, several proctoring and security measures are employed:

1. Automated Proctoring: Many online exam platforms offer automated proctoring, which uses AI and machine learning to monitor students during the exam. It tracks eye movements, keystrokes, and other behaviors that may indicate cheating.

2. Live Proctoring: Some institutions opt for live proctoring, where a human proctor monitors students via webcam in real time. This method adds an extra layer of security.

3. Lockdown Browsers: Lockdown browsers restrict students from accessing external websites or resources during the exam, ensuring they focus solely on the exam questions.

4. Time Limits: Exams typically have time limits to prevent students from researching answers or consulting external sources extensively.

5. Randomization: Questions and answer choices can be randomized to reduce the likelihood of students sharing answers.

Submission and Grading

After completing the exam, students submit their answers through the online platform. The submission process may include the following steps:

1. Confirming Submission: Students are often prompted to confirm their submission before finalizing it. This step helps prevent accidental submissions or incomplete exams.

2. Confirmation Receipt: Upon successful submission, students receive a confirmation receipt as proof of submission.

3. Grading: The grading process can vary depending on the exam format. Multiple-choice exams are often graded automatically, while essays and written responses may be graded by instructors.

4. Feedback: Instructors may provide feedback on students’ performance, offering insights for improvement.

Post-Exam Review

After the exams are graded and results are released, students often have the opportunity to review their performance:
1. Exam Scores: As a result, students will be able to view their scores as well as the right or wrong answers to specific questions.
2. Answer Keys: Answer keys or explanations can be provided by instructors for every question, which would guide students on where they erred.
3. Reevaluation Requests: Generally speaking, students can seek re-evaluation from their instructor if they feel like a mistake was made while grading.

Maintaining Academic Integrity

Online education depends on academic integrity. To ensure that online exams are conducted fairly and ethically, both students and institutions must adhere to a code of conduct:
1. Student Honor Code: Most learning centers demand the signing of an honour pledge against any forms of academic misdemeanor including cheating or plagiarism.
2. Plagiarism Detection: Plagiarism is identified through the use of plagiarism detection software which detects instances of plagiarized essays or written responses in educational institutions.
3. Consequences for Violations: There are policies in institutions that deal with the violation of academic integrity and penalties ranging from failure of the exam or the course.


This exhaustive guide has looked at how exams taken online are conducted – from scheduling, getting onto an exam platform, through exam formats, proctoring, submissions, and grading, and, finally, how academic integrity is maintained. Online education still advances, and new technologies and techniques are constantly created to increase the effectiveness of online exams. It is through these understandings that students will navigate online exams with confidence. Educators must also provide a fair and secure assessment environment.