How Are Test And Exams Conducted When Earning An Online Degree?

Published on: April 08, 2022

One of the most common misconceptions about earning a degree online is that the courses are not as rigorous as on-campus ones. While online degrees are certainly more convenient in many ways, those done through a reputable institution are held to the same standards as traditional degree programs. In fact, students studying online require a lot of self-discipline to succeed as well as self-motivation.

Depending on the type of degree, assignments and exams are also a regular part of online studies. Like their offline counterparts, these can be a source of stress and anxiety for students. However, as with any other test, knowing what to expect and how to prepare can make a big difference.

What Are The Different Types of Online Tets?

Not all online degree programs have the same types of tests, and factors such as the subject and format of the course play a significant role. These are just a few examples of the most common types of exams that online students might encounter.

Timed Exams

Timed exams can either provide students with a specific block of time to complete the test or use timed questions where students have a specified amount of time to complete each question. These types of tests are more common in technical disciplines where short, true or false, or multiple choice answers make more sense. 

When dealing with timed exams, it is important not to waste too much time on any one question. Completing a timed practice test is a good way to learn how to pace yourself, but adequate studies are still vital, especially if it is a closed book test.

Untimed Exams

Untimed exams can be less stressful than timed ones but still require students to understand the material. Typically, these tests aim to establish the depth of understanding students have instead of their ability to recall the answers.

Instead of rushing through these types of exams, it is better to take as much time as you need and think critically about your answers. Also, make sure to establish beforehand whether or not you are able to skip and go back to questions later while doing this type of test online.

Open-Book Exams

Open-book exams are usually seen as the most accessible type of exam as you don't have to really study the information beforehand or memorize anything. However, these types of tests still evaluate your ability to retrieve information. Open-book exams also tend to cover more details than closed-book tests. These types of exams can either allow you access to your textbook during the test or only the notes you have taken on the subject, so be sure to establish beforehand what will be permitted.

Preparing for this type of test usually involves going through your materials and highlighting important information, so you can find it easier during the exam.

Live online proctored exams are used for situations where cheating may be a concern. These tests are conducted in real-time and typically require students to be facing a webcam for the entire exam. Proctors will then observe students for the exam duration to ensure that no irregularities occur.

This type of exam can be intimidating if you are not used to being monitored, so be sure to practice beforehand with friends or family.


Automated Proctored Exams

Depending on the number of students in an exam, the live online proctored format is not always feasible. So instead, some institutions make use of automated proctored exams. These exams are monitored by automated proctoring services that can record what is open on the user's screens and flag anything suspicious for review by a human.

For this type of exam, it is vital to ensure that nothing that could be seen as suspicious or cheating occurs. Typically, these can include the presence of another person in the exam room, acting distracted, using unauthorized devices, or moving your face out of the frame. Most proctoring software prevents action such as copying and pasting or opening unwarranted browser tabs but make sure that there is no software on your computer that can be flagged as suspicious.

Record and Review Exams

Some degrees, such as those in the medical field, requires students to perform tasks on which they are graded for their technique. Because live online proctored exams are not always viable, these exams might use the record and review format instead. Students are required to record themselves performing their assigned task and then submit it for review and grading.

Preparing for this type of exam involves practicing the procedure and ensuring that everything is set up for a clear recording that makes it easy to see the proper technique is used.

Local Testing Site Exams

Students may have to travel to a local testing site in instances where someone is required to monitor and supervise during the exam, but it cannot be done online or via proctoring software. Some institutions also allow students to take their exams at a test center or via remote proctoring, depending on what they feel most comfortable with.

When preparing for this type of exam, make sure that you know the exact location of the testing site and what materials, if any, are required for you to participate in the exam.


As online learning continues to become more commonplace, the process of taking online tests or exams will also become more streamlined. For students who are used to traditional exams, it can be somewhat daunting to take online exams, but adequate preparation can help to alleviate some of the stress. Before enrolling in an online degree program, make sure to research what types of tests and exams are part of the curriculum.

This site was founded by librarian Mike Madin in 1998. After more than 20 years on the Internet, AcademicInfo has become the premier website for education and university related information and reviews.

While we do our very best to provide accurate and up-to-date information, please contact us if you find anything that is either wrong, or that you feel is missing from the site.

Copyright © 1998 - 2024 Academic Info. All rights reserved.