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TOPIC: Preparing for online exams

Preparing for online exams 1 year 11 months ago #570190

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused both instructors and students to have difficulty adapting to new ways of learning and teaching this fall. The exam season at VIU is not the same as other things. The majority of exams will be taken at home this fall and technically they will be considered a type of take-home test. VIU has placed all timed exam in the exam schedule. However you might get more time than the normal amount to take the test. Your instructors can provide more details.

The exam schedule will show the timed exams. However, many non-timed take-home exams will be given out in the last week of classes. These exams will be due back the following week. Your instructors will provide you with full details, including deadlines, regarding the submission of exams. This means you might have multiple exams due the same day. It is crucial to be able to manage your time.

Learn more about the types of tests that you will face this year. Find out how you can prepare. Get some general tips and tricks to help you succeed in your exams season.

Online tests of different types

Here are some types of tests your instructor may choose to use this semester in order to evaluate your learning.

Multiple-choice exams

It is possible that your instructor will decide to give online tests the same way they would in class. They are aware of the benefits of collaboration (peers sharing their best answers with peer review) and the possibility for peer feedback. They know that this type collaborative learning strategy is very beneficial and that some students will learn the test while they prepare.

Strategies for student preparation

Make friends with others in the class and study together. Then, plan to take the test together. The instructor will expect you to have your books open so that the test can be completed in a reasonable time. This means that the instructor will assume you have your books open so you don't have to go back and look for answers. Make sure you memorize relevant vocabulary so you can easily find the information you need quickly. Microsoft OneNote can be used to create tags to identify key terms and quickly locate information in your notes. The Learning Matters webpage has some helpful tips on exam preparation.

Multiple-choice test with different versions

Instructors may choose to give online tests just as they would. However, VIULearn creates a "bank" of questions that requires additional work. This allows students to each answer a different set of questions. Collaboration is therefore minimized. However, it is possible for students to still discuss and answer each question in one room or virtually. However, that would mean they have to answer all questions for both tests and not just the one assigned.

Strategies for student preparation

You should choose at least one study partner and agree to work together in preparation for your exams. By studying together and sharing what you're learning with another person, you can learn more. Your depth of knowledge increases. If you form at least one friendship with your classmates, loneliness can be reduced in virtual learning. Trent University shares some other tips about studying for open-book, online exams.

Short-answer testing

Instructors can create short-answer questions that test critical thinking and problem-solving skills to help them set exams. Short-answer question are useful for students who want to practice critical thinking.

Strategies for student preparation

You will be better able apply concepts to cases and brief answers if you have mastered the terminology, facts and terms. If your instructor uses short-answer tests, it is likely that they also taught the course with cases that encourage you to practice applying concepts. So make sure you go through all the cases and examples the instructor assigns as homework. You should also actively take part in the exercises, cases and examples given in class. Consider joining a study club or studying with a friend if you don’t understand how to apply what you have learned. These tips from Education Corner will help you prepare to take short answer tests.

General tips for exam prep

These strategies will help no matter what type of test you're writing, and they'll help you succeed on your take home tests.

Time management

So that all of your exams are submitted on the same date, you can set up a schedule. Set your own due dates for each exam to ensure that you can block out time in your schedule. Make sure to follow these deadlines. You can relieve stress by controlling your schedule within the parameters of what your instructors expect. Create positive pressure by setting a deadline with a friend, and holding each other responsible for keeping on task. You can be distraction-free when studying or working for an hour on an exam. More tips can be found on the Learning Matters page Manage Time & Concentration.


We might decide to cut back on the activities that help us feel happy and connected when we are in a hurry. Consider yourself not only a human who does a lot, but also a human being with higher potential. If you feel happy, well-fed as well as socially connected, satisfied, and rested, your motivation to self-care will increase so you can bring your best self every day of your take-home exam.

Study strategies

The learning outcomes for your course are listed in the syllabus. Instructors create quizzes or tests to evaluate against the learning outcomes. You can read more about this at the Learning Matters Study Skills and Techniques Page.

Many students don't realize that their instructor is an important learning resource. If you have any questions, your instructor is available to assist you. For more information on connecting with instructors, please visit this link: Learning matters

A great way to help you stay on track is to join study groups. You can also quiz and teach each other. Peer Supported Learning (PSL), if available, is a great way to learn. PSL provides peer support during study sessions.

Management of anxiety

Learn how to manage anxiety and be calm. Practice mindfulness and quieten your mind every day. This will help you shift into a calm state. It is possible to be present in the moment, and maintain calm focus by learning how to silence your mind. In the episode notes, the Successful U podcast's 3rd episode on handling stress has resources and links.

Effective preparation strategies are key to successful test-taking. It includes talking to your instructors about what you expect regarding the content and how they will be able to collaborate on tasks and assignments. You can make it a positive experience to prepare for an exam by managing your time, stress and using various study strategies. Do not hesitate to ask for help. There are many resources available.

Related article from CollegeBasics: https://www.collegebasics.com/blog/how-to-get-the-best-online-exam-help/

Related Resources:
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Online Exams 5 Advantages
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