What Kinds of Tests Do Online Colleges Have

Online Testing for Higher Education

Many colleges now have courses that are entirely online. The concept isn’t new, though it has recently seen increased activity. It fosters a proactive environment for students, no different from having a professor teach and administer work in person. Online colleges do this with frequency, where students are responsible for taking tests, quizzes, and major exams through the portal of an internet connection. For this reason, college tests online aren’t always taken by students that live on campus, or even in the same state. The location of students may change, but the testing remains the same.

More on Distance Courses

If you’re thinking about taking distance courses as an undergraduate, you’re probably wondering about how online college tests work. According to the Institute of Education Sciences, about 20 percent of all students take at least one distance class during their college career, and almost four percent take all of their courses online. These students still have to take exams, but the tests are sometimes a little bit different than the ones at brick-and-mortar schools.

Types of Questions on Online College Tests

online testing

Teachers realize that they can’t supervise their online students as closely as they can supervise their traditional students. Because of this, online tests usually have different types of questions. Nobody would be able to tell if you look through your notes or textbook during an online test, so teachers often make all of their exams open-book and open-note right from the get-go. To make sure that you’re still understanding and retaining the course material, they might forgo multiple choice and true or false questions and use short answer or essay questions instead. You’ll be asked things that will require you to think instead of looking up a date or a fact in your notes or textbook.

Timed Tests

If you do end up taking online college tests with multiple-choice, matching, and true or false answers, don’t be surprised if you find out that there’s a time limit on your exam. When you’re taking this kind of test online, you might be able to look through your notes or textbook, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll have enough time to. If you take too long looking up information, you won’t be able to finish your test in time, so make sure that you memorize any important facts before you sit down for your exam. Because students could cheat on their exams by asking for test information from students who have already taken their exams, teachers will often ask that all students sit down to take their tests within a certain time frame. For instance, a test may only be available for a few hours instead of a few days.

Proctored Exams

proctored exam

While you’ll probably get to take most of your tests online when taking distance courses, there may be a few instances when taking a proctored exam is necessary. For instance, you’ll probably be able to take quizzes and normal tests from your computer, but you might have to go to a testing center for midterms and finals. During a proctored exam, you won’t be able to use any outside information sources. Instead, you’ll have to rely on what you already know. The test will probably be timed, and it will feel more like a traditional exam. Recently, some colleges have allowed the use of online proctoring websites. Using an online proctor will give you more flexibility when it comes to the timing of your test, but you’ll need to have a webcam on the computer that you choose to take your exam on.

Taking distance courses is a great way to further your education if you have a busy schedule. Online college tests aren’t that different from regular exams, and as long as you study and use all of the resources that are at your disposal, you should do fine on all of your online college exams.

Frequently Asked Questions

taking online tests

1. Are e-proctors the same as live proctors?

Colleges with online classes depend on proctors to maintain the integrity of the courses within the student’s curriculum. Proctors are fundamentally responsible for watching students as they work. Although the same, the duties assigned to online and live proctors have different ways to which they oversee exams.

A live proctor is appointed by the school. Most colleges look for people with commanding positions of employment. Librarians, church officials, and teachers close to the student’s locality are common live proctors. E-proctors are online only. They’re sometimes conducted by web proctors assigned to the school or by the professors themselves.

2. Are most tests administered on a timer?

Students take online tests using a mix of timed and untimed exams. Most exams are timed, either the entire test or with each question. It helps guarantee that students are taking the test using the closed book method that’s favored by professors.

This way, school officials can prevent unethical testing practices without actually being in the presence of the students. The standard time for a fully timed test is about an hour, though longer for major exams. Students should expect to take timed exams more often for specific classes. Courses involving math, sciences, and programming have an abundance of tests with a compulsory number of minutes or hours for which they must be submitted.

3. How do open book exams work?

When students are allowed to take a test using their textbooks and without the supervision of professors and proctors, it’s called an open-book exam. They’re less restrictive on what the student used to provide answers to the test. Nevertheless, this can open up more challenges for students.

On the surface, new college students may get the impression that open book teams will be easier to take than fully proctored exams. In practice, they’re often the most challenging. Since open-book exams have no timed expiration, students could be required to give lengthy, more detailed answers that reveal how meticulous their knowledge of a subject is. Professors and staff look into how students use the media provided to them in their questions, which is easy for them to check.

4. Do proctored exams pose a privacy risk?

One question that comes up often with new students taking tests online is the safety of their privacy. And for good reason, since trust is given to proctors by allowing them to essentially take control over a student’s computers when a test is in session.

Some may speculate if hackers with ill intentions could alter the tests, change the completion countdowns, or deceptively gain access to computers when students aren’t taking any tests. What are the chances of this and is there anything being done to prevent these problems from happening?

Technology-wise, any software or operating system can pose a security risk. This includes any applications or relevant software relied upon by students when taking tests. However, there are many security measures put in place to reduce the risk of fraud, cheating, and the stealing of personal information. Students can also monitor what information is being checked by their professors or any third parties assisting in the exams that they take.

School professors and staff instill in students the importance of data security. They’re encouraged to regularly update existing software being used for testing, and how to keep themselves safe from unknowingly giving out personal information.

5. Are the software requirements demanding?

College exams are taken with applications utilized by a specific university or a third party that’s trusted by the school. Depending on the course, some programs may require advanced software that’s unlike the requirements for tests with other courses. Usually, students can use all major OS software, so long as there’s a webcam and recording device attached.

When live tests are done, students may need to adjust their computer’s security features to allow protectors to record their screens. Even with remote access, a proctor won’t have unfettered access to a student’s user accounts and password. Yet on the proctor’s side, they can at times control the computers of students, usually to verify that no programs are running that could interfere with the exam or provide the student an unfair advantage.

6. How do online colleges and their professors handle technical problems?

It’s a matter of time before technical issues take place within the semesters of a student’s college course online. Most problems are easily fixed corrections that involve little to no contact with an IT specialist.

An example of this is when a student can’t hear or see a professor at a meeting or lecture, or when they can’t answer timed questions fast enough due to a faulty web connection.

Sometimes, students might experience sudden power failure or trouble getting through the test from their computer running too slow. The professor or web proctor must be notified of any such problem immediately when the student can communicate to them. Proctors are trained to deal with such issues and will know how to remedy a situation where technical problems aren’t the fault of the student.

7. Are multiple-choice answers common for tests that aren’t timed?

Online tests are single and multiple choice. Some answers might require that students write something down instead of choosing. Timed tests generally have multiple-choice, particularly when the answer must be given between each question. Sometimes, the opposite is the case. Yet in most circumstances, untimed tests are used when students must state their answer, one where choice isn’t an option.

Exceptions do exist, such as when brief exams are administered or when a trusted proctor watches as the student takes the test. Major tests and exams are almost always timed for math and science-related courses. Online colleges want students to learn in the same way that they would if physically in attendance at an institution.

8. Should recorded college exams be expected more often than proctored?

Proctored exams are sometimes recorded, a method that students and professors may favor over the traditional method of a proctored exam. Simply put, they’re easier to manage for web proctors and trusted by students. It’s no surprise that recorded tests are often descriptive of the tests that students take online.

A basic proctored exam is one where the student may potentially have to travel to a facility to have someone watch them as they test. Exams might be mailed, which can slow down the time it takes for professors grading students’ work. Speed is the biggest preference, to which recording the screens of test participants helps professors cover the entire course without delays and obstructions.

9. Is test-taking easier to do online than in person?

There are too many variables to consider, many involving the preferences of students and the setting of the test. Students sometimes like online tests, though others might find them to be harder to take while in a college setting. But for online colleges, testing is easier since it’s usually conducted while the student is at home on the computer, with no stipulations for them having to go anywhere.
At a traditional college exam, the student would have to travel to the testing site, whereas they can open their personal computer and finish it wherever a web connection is available.

10. What is the future of online testing for colleges?

The process of administering tests online will become more streamlined. Proctors will spend less time monitoring tests as the technology automates itself, recording students’ testing activities. Fewer technical problems will arise and the stability of web connections should increase, resulting in fewer unwanted drops.

The possibility of cheating will decrease even lower than what it is now, ensuring that all students are taking exams in an identical setting that doesn’t offer an advantage to one over the next.

Overall, the test-taking procedure is expected to provide students the feeling of being next to a testing administrator.

Advancing Remote Testing for Colleges

Online testing has advanced enough to where some students prefer to take exams while already in direct attendance at a college. It’s not uncommon to see students on campus opting to do this. More and more professors are adopting their exams online with the same standards provided to faraway students nowhere near the college in attendance.

Testing online didn’t happen overnight. But as more people conduct college courses over the internet, the demand for proctors will increase. Proctors play a vital role in monitoring testing, helping set up timed exams, and playing a supervisory role for participants.

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