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How to prepare for an online proctored exam

With online courses being one of the most convenient ways to study, online proctored exams have also become a popular option among education providers and students.

Upskilling and advancing your knowledge has become more accessible and manageable through online courses, empowering you to plan study around your career. With online courses being one of the most convenient ways to study, online proctored exams have also become a popular option among education providers and students.

Firstly, what’s an online proctored exam and how does it work?

An online proctored exam is a supervised exam completed remotely from any location convenient for you, whether that be the comfort of your own home or office. All you need is a computer or laptop, so you don’t have to worry about attending a public exam centre. Online exams have the same rules and regulations as normal exams, so you’ll be monitored on video throughout the assessment by a remote supervisor.

Several benefits of online proctored exams include:

  • You can complete your online exam in a familiar and quiet environment, which can support concentration
  • You avoid public exam venues and travel, helping to reduce stress and anxiety
  • You can simply type and edit your exam answers on your computer or laptop
  • The exams are secured and supervised – a proctor verifies your identity, monitors activity to avoid cheating, and can provide technical support throughout the exam

Whether you’re returning to study or you’ve never completed an online exam before, here are our top tips to help you prepare and perform at your best.

Prepare as you normally would

Like any exam, it’s important to prepare well in advance. Break down your revision and set time aside throughout the weeks leading up to exam day. Preparing with proactive and frequent study sessions will help you retain information over time, rather than cramming at the last minute. Dedicating time to summarising and highlighting important information throughout the duration of a subject can save you a significant amount of time in the lead up to exams.

It’s ideal to find out as much as possible about your online exam in advance. This may include what topics will be covered in the exam, the duration, and the format; such as multiple-choice, scenario-based, and short-answer questions. It’s also ideal to find out what items are permitted in the exam, such as a calculator, scratch paper, and whether additional resources will be provided. This can help you understand what you need to learn and what resources you can use on the day.  You may have access to past or practice exams, which are ideal for testing knowledge. It’s also worth double-checking your online exam date, time and important information. This will help you follow the process correctly to avoid delays and disruptions.

Check your technology in advance

Completing an online proctored exam from your home or office is extremely convenient, saving you time, money and the stress of travelling to a public exam centre. Firstly, you need a personal computer or laptop with video capability and a reliable internet connection. It’s also ideal to check your technology’s working in advance of your exam. Follow the steps in your subject room and online exam guides to ensure you’ve checked your equipment and have connected with an exam technician for support. This ensures no stressful last-minute issues arise, giving you enough time to implement a backup plan if necessary. If you’re having technical issues during the online exam, be sure to inform your supervisor as they’re there to offer help and support.

Choose the right location to complete the exam

Choosing the right location to complete your online exam is a crucial part of preparation and your performance on the day. It’s recommended you complete your online exam in a quiet space with minimal distractions, so you can adhere to the exam rules and perform at your best. If you’re still working or studying from home with multiple people around, try to find a room where you’ll have no disruptions. If this isn’t possible, it’s best to complete your online exam in a different location. Perhaps a family member or friend may have a quiet space you can use, or you can speak to your local library to see if you can book a private meeting space.

Plan your time on exam day

It’s important to plan and manage your time accordingly throughout your online exam. Your exam will have a timer, so it’s best to keep an eye on this to track progress. It’s recommended you break up your exam into blocks, so you don’t run out of time. At the start of the exam, check how many questions there are and the type of questions, such as multiple-choice or short-answer questions. You can then determine how much time you’ll dedicate to each section or question.

If you get stuck on a question, don’t spend too much time dwelling on it. Move on to a new question and come back to it later when you’re comfortable you’ve completed other questions to the best of your ability. Make the most of the reading time at the start of the exam, so you can understand instructions and think about your answers. It’s also important to dedicate time at the end of the exam to review your answers before submitting.

Take care of yourself

It’s normal to feel anxious and nervous about exams. Although this is common, be sure to take time out for yourself to breathe and relax. Butterflies before an exam shows you’re passionate and committed to your studies. Before starting your online exam, take a few minutes to relax your nerves by taking some deep breaths. Try and clear your mind, so you go into the exam feeling calm and prepared. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed throughout the online exam, take a few minutes again to breathe deeply and refocus.

In the lead up to exams, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your tutors will be able to support you throughout this process, as well as your family, friends and other students. It’s also important to look after your health and wellbeing while preparing for exams. Having seven to nine hours’ sleep each night, maintaining a balanced diet and moving your body can help you feel refreshed and energised. This is especially important the day before an exam.

We hope these study tips will be useful throughout your online exam preparation. If you’re a Kaplan Professional student, you can find more tips in the Preparing for an exam interactive module in your KapLearn Learning Hub. If you’ve completed an online proctored exam, comment below to let others know about your experience and how you prepared for it!


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