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Succeed at Exams

Prepare for online exams

Set aside time in advance to set up your workspace and ensure you have the technology needed for the exam:

  • Locate a quiet space where you will not be disturbed. This may mean letting your housemates and/or family know that you are writing a test and putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door or by your desk.
  • Make a note of whom you should contact if you experience technical difficulties. Keep this information nearby during your exam.
    • Ensure that you display this support information within your environment check if you are using Respondus lockdown browser.
  • Remove distractions:
    • Turn off your phone and all notifications on your devices and place them away from your testing space.
    • Remove clutter, and only have essential materials in your exam space like pencils, erasers, calculators, and water.
  • Learn about the technical format of the exam.
    • Will your responses be saved automatically as you write the exam, or do you need to remember to save them periodically?
    • If you skip a question, can you return to it later?
    • Can you change your response to a question after you have moved on to a new question?
  • If your exam is open for a large window of time, such as 24 hours, try not to leave the exam to the last minute in case you experience technical challenges. Plan to finish the exam at least 30 minutes before it closes.

Write exams with Respondus

If your exam uses Respondus Lockdown Browser with or without the webcam component, keep the following in mind.

What is Respondus?

  • Respondus Lockdown Browser is academic integrity software that you download onto your computer. Download instructions can often be found in your course outline.
  • It inhibits your ability to print, copy, and use search engines or other applications during your exam.
  • Respondus exams with the webcam feature will use your webcam to monitor you while you write your exam.

How do I prepare for Respondus?

Attempt a Respondus Practice Exam

  • Check your Courselink Quizzes for a Respondus Practice Exam. This is a short and simple way to ensure that you’re familiar with Respondus Lockdown Browser before your exam.
  • Respondus will take your photo, take a photo of your ID, and perform an environment check (show your workspace, surrounding area and laptop screen).
  • To prepare for the environment check on your real exam, practice showing your desk and exam space using the webcam.
  • Respondus Practice Exams usually have unlimited attempts so you can use this resource more than once.

Ensure your space meets the requirements

  • Open book and closed book exams will have different requirements about the materials and resources that are allowed in your exam space.
  • Pay close attention to information about what materials will be permitted while you write your exam. Consult your course outline or Courselink site for more details. Respondus Lockdown Browser set-up also includes these details before you begin your exam.
  • Review information from Respondus about improving unstable or unreliable internet connections.

A Respondus Preparation Checklist

  • I have chosen a location where I will not be interrupted
  • I have chosen a well-lit location where I am visible
  • Avoid lighting from behind you as it can obscure your visibility
  • I have a mirror to assist me in my environment check
  • I have turned off all devices and removed them from reach
  • I have cleared my space of any materials that are not permissible during my exam (notes, other computers, books)
  • I have all necessary materials for my exam (paper, pencil, calculator, Student ID)
  • I know whom to contact if I have technical difficulties during the exam

Write a closed-book exam with Respondus

If you’ve become accustomed to open-book exams, it may take some time to get used to closed-book exams.

  • Follow the preparation steps above so that you have the space and technology to write your exams successfully.
  • Spend more time honing your recall skills. Review course material regularly throughout the semester to help you retain important information for your exam.
  • If you’re used to untimed exams, practice working under time pressure by writing practice quizzes or exams in a timed setting. Keep your books closed to help you recall information.
  • Our Succeed at Exams: Study for Exams guide has specific suggestions for creating practice exams and spacing out your studying.
  • Our Study Effectively guide has ideas for how to review course material to deepen your understanding and test your knowledge.

Write an open-book exam with Respondus

  • Follow the preparation steps above so that you have the space and technology to write your exams successfully.
  • If you will have time to refer to your notes during the exam, use sticky notes or other tags to find key notes quickly. Label each sticky note or tab with a key word or topic to help you stay organized.
  • Another exam preparation technique is to create a condensed study guide of your course material. It will be easier and faster to refer to your study guide rather than all of your course notes and materials during the exam.
  • During an open book exam, especially online, it can be easy to lose track of time and/or get distracted.
    • Check how much time you have periodically throughout the exam
    • Manage your time by prioritizing questions you are most confident in
  • If you can review and change your responses, ensure that you have enough time to proofread your responses.
  • Remember to click submit on your exam once you are done

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