General Considerations for all exams, online or written.


  • Be sure to embed specific exam instructions in the exam itself.  If written, the exam instructions could act as a coversheet for the exam; online exams should have the instructions embedded in the space provided by the software/LMS.  Embedding the instructions in the exam guarantees that students have access to the rules and cannot claim ignorance of the rules if there is a dispute.
  • Use multiple versions of an exam.
  • Establish deadlines and enforce them.  This includes deadlines for identifying a proctor and having the proctor submit appropriate information.


The following list of “Best Practices” is generally intended for the preparation and delivery of online exams.


  1. Create a large bank of questions from which to select questions for each test.
  2. Create question sets and randomly choose questions from each set to display to each student.
  3. Randomize the questions or question sets (if possible) on the test.
  4. Randomize the answer choices for each question.  Note: watch out for answers like “A&C above” or “All of the above”.
  5. Display one question at a time.
  6. Set a time limit for the test to not allow extra time per question. Students need to know the material to answer questions correctly, with little time to look up answers.
  7. Disallow answer submission if time has expired.
  8. If you wish to provide feedback use the guidelines listed below

    i. Do not provide feedback until all exams have been submitted.  

    ii. If you intend to use the same questions on future exams do not show the questions, answers, or correct answer(s).

    iii. For incorrect responses provide direction to appropriate learning topic(s) so students can review those sections pertaining to questions missed.  This is particularly effective for multiple attempt exams.

  9. Proctors – have students take an exam in a room that is monitored by a proctor. Have the proctor check the ID of each student prior to the start the exam.
  10. Use a different password for each proctored test and change the passwords each time the exams are reused (e.g. each semester the course is offered).
  11. Code of Conduct – Provide students with an honesty statement that summarizes the expectations and requirements for academic honesty.
  12. Combine various methods of assessment – objective tests, projects both group and individual and writing assignments can be combined.  Essay questions also make it difficult for students to cheat on a traditional assessment.
  13. If available, use security software like Respondus LockDown Browser™