Online university exam tips for students: How do online exams work?👩‍💻

Copied to clipboard

Suffering with online exam stress and looking for online exam tips? Wondering what is an onlin exam and how do they work?

As university and life adapts to the pandemic, online exams have replaced the normal in person exams.

Whilst online exams may seem more stressful, having to rely on technology, and having to sit an exam from your own home, when prepared for in the right they can be straight-forward and can create a more calming environment than regular exams.

Here’s our complete online exam guide, with online exam guidelines and online exam help for students:


If you’d like to write for our student and graduate blog programme and gain valuable copywriting experience, get in touch below:

What is an online exam?

An online examination is a test taken online by a candidate in order for the examiner to measure the level of knowledge of the participants on a specific topic.

This is done by using an online exam platform which candidates can take remotely.

The majority of online examinations include answers processing modules, which enable the markers to issue results and grades only moments after the candidates complete the test. This fully automated examination system enables the examiner to present the final results in a much faster and more efficient manner.

When taking an online examination, the candidates are required to answer the questions in a pre-decided timeframe. The test window collapses as soon as the online examination comes to an end, and institutions receive real-time reports.

The markers first assess the answers and then grade accordingly if it is a multiple choice answer online examination.

However, for the online examinations which consist of long-answer type questions where results are not automated, the markers assess the essay answers and then grade accordingly.

The final results and grades of the online examinations are then put together and sent to the candidates either by e-mail or on the specific institutions’ website where the original online examination was taken.


How do online exams work?

Online examinations work by having the examiners setting up the online testing environment and uploading the question sets onto a specific online website where the online exam is set to be taking place.

On this same platform, the bulk information about the candidates taking the online exam is uploaded, as well as selecting specific time slots, and then sending the online exam link to the candidates through follow up e-mails confirming all of these details.

Although it may vary depending on the institutions where the online exams are being taken, generally the candidates need to use this specific link to login and go through a three-step authentication which will then enable them to take their online exam.

Online exams are normally recorded and can be heavily supervised for important final years examinations through the use of an artificial intelligence-based invigilator or a traditional online human invigilator.

After the candidates submit their answers, their online exams are auto-evaluated to generate a real-time report.

The final results and grades can then be customised and shared in PDF or HTML formats to the candidates.

After that, an in-depth group level analysis of the overall online examinations can be done and customised as required by the examiners.

Watch videos on interview questionsCV advicejob hunting tips and more on our YouTube channel!

Join Go Graduate Network to stay up to date with all our competitions, webinars, events and more!


How to prepare for online exams?

1. Make sure to go over the online exam guidelines

To prepare for an online examination, it is mandatory that you read and fully understand the related guidelines.

Make sure that you know when the online exam will be taking place, whether during a previously set and agreed specific date and time, or whether the online exam can be taken at any point within a limited time window.

Make sure you also know how much time you are given to complete the online exam; and where you are expected to be taking the online exams.

For instance in your home, or at another specific location, such as a campus computer lab, and pay attention to any other possible important information that is given by the examiner regarding a specific online exam’s structure.

Procrastinating getting in the way of your exam revision?

We’ve put together our top tips for how to stop procrastinating and focus on tasks better.


2. Know the format of the exam paper

Be informed about the format of the online exam that you are taking, such as what type of questions is the examiner using in the online exam, for example, multiple-choice, fill-in, short answer and/or long answer essay questions or a combination of different types of questions.

If the examiner provides the candidates with a practice exam available, make sure you take it and use it to practice for the real online exam.


3. Double-check your technology

Regardless of where you are taking the online exam, whether at home or in a designed computer lab, make sure that you check, as early as possible before you take your online exam, the working status of your computer/laptop to avoid any sudden last-minute issues.

Make sure you have all the correct software and hardware, and ensuring that the internet connection and/or Wi-Fi, where you are taking the online exam, is working fast enough without suffering any stuttering or sudden interruptions.

It is extremely important that you study the materials given by the examiners during the classroom’s lectures.

Even if it is an open book online exam, it is still essential to study and revise so that you know where to find the relevant information without wasting precious time looking through the books in order to find it.


4. Practice online papers

When preparing for the online exam, make sure that you plan your time as a candidate.

When you practice your timing skills during a practice online exam, limit the time to the one that is allocated in your actual exam.

Do this to determine how much time you will dedicate to each question, for example, if your online exam is one hour long and it is composed of sixty questions, then you will ideally have to spend no more than a minute per question at the most.

However, depending on the institutions, you may be allowed to skip a difficult question, and come back to it before the end of the online exam, to avoid wasting precious time completing a difficult question and ending up missing out on answering the later questions.

There are some great apps available to help with your revision and practice example questions, we’ve put together out guide to the top 7 apps every student needs during exams.


5. Find an appropriate setting to sit your exam

It is extremely important that when taking the online exam, you are situated in a quiet area of your home, for example your own bedroom or your personal study room.

Make sure that you turn off (or set on silence) any notifications from your personal mobile devices, such as your mobile phone or tablet, and switch off completely the television and radio.

Inform your room mates, flat mates, and/or family members that you will be taking an online exam and that it is essential that they do not make any noise or cause any distractions that may make it difficult for you to concentrate and focus solely on taking your exam.

Depending on when the online exam has been set, decide when it is best for you to take it.

You may be required to complete the online exam at a specific time; however, if the online exam can be completed within a limited time frame (such as if it is available for several hours and/or even for a few days), you should choose a particular time that is ideal in terms of suffering from only a minimal risk of distractions, interruptions and/or stress.

Exams can bring huge amounts of stress and worry, so it’s important to make sure you’re finding the time to relax and are looking after your mental health. Visit our blog for helpful tips on how to look after your mental health at University.


6. Gather the important material you need before the exam

Be very organised before taking the online exam, by gathering all the materials that you are allowed to use when taking it, such as personal notes, books, and/or written key information with you ready to use them when you need them.

It’s also important to make sure you’re energised and fuelled for your exam by eating the right foods beforehand.

If you’re wondering what are the best foods to eat, check out our blog on the top brain foods for students.

Make sure that you are relaxed, concentrated and focused when you have logged into the online exam, ready to complete it within the set limited amount of time.


Online exams can seem daunting at first, but when prepared for in the right ways they can be less stressful than in-person exams, and easier to focus with less distractions around.

If you’re feeling apprehensive about an upcoming university exam, make sure to implement our above exam tips to prepare in the best ways and calm nerves.


Was this post useful?