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Instructor Resources for Remote Exam Administration

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Spring Quarter 2019-20

Last updated 4/30/2020

These resources are intended to assist faculty administering remote exams during Spring quarter 2019-20. While this information represents recommended practices, instructors should consider their pedagogy, course learning goals, and field’s practices when developing exams. The Center for Teaching and Learning is available for consultations and pedagogical support.

Please send questions or feedback to

Tools for Remote Exam Administration

  1. Post exam files on Google Drive, Box or Canvas: Ensure students have access to files at the right time and not prematurely by following these instructions. You can then set up for students to return the exam through Canvas or Gradescope (see below).
  2. Canvas: Administer quizzes or exams directly through Canvas
    Use Canvas Quiz for
    • Exams that can be completed with only a keyboard or mouse
    • Exams with a mixture of question types

    Use Canvas Assignments for uploading essays or projects

  1. Gradescope: Administer assignments, quizzes, or exams through Gradescope 

Students can upload PDF’s directly to Gradescope for 

  • Handwritten exams or essays
  • Multiple-choice exams that use a bubble sheet or scantron form

Instructors can Create assignments in Gradescope for students to log in and take

  • Assignments can be timed if students have constant internet access
  • Assignments/exams can be downloaded from Canvas, then students can upload completed work to Gradescope as a pdf file 

Gradescope’s Help Center has more information about the types of assignments that can be created and administered through Gradescope. 

  1. Zoom: Administer oral exams or conduct presentations on Zoom

Remote Exam Tips

Keep it positive! Focus on learning and making exam expectations clear and fair. If students feel equally enabled and informed, and if they believe the exam process to be fair, they are more likely to uphold the integrity of assessments.

Scheduling an Exam

  • Consider holding the exam during a regularly scheduled class period so students can more easily plan their day and avoid conflicts with their other courses. While students may request exceptions, using the scheduled class period will allow instructors to most easily plan and provide support to students through the exam period.  
  • Consider setting a fixed time for the exam using Canvas or Gradescope options. This avoids complicating issues with OAE accommodations, and reduces the temptation for students to spend large amounts of time googling exam questions. Within a set time period, students can focus on demonstrating what they know.

Developing an exam

  • Build assessments and projects that deepen and measure learning.
  • Design assessments understanding that remote exams are open-book and open-resource. This means that students can consult textbooks, search online, read their notes, etc. while completing an exam. 
    • Consulting a person other than a course’s instructional staff is considered collaboration.
  • Revisit the course’s learning goals. Bloom’s taxonomy may help identify or frame questions that measure higher-level thinking skills, rather than simple recall questions.
    • Consider questions that require evaluation of data or arguments, or the creation of new products. These higher-level questions are less likely to have answers that students can find in resources. 
    • Consider altering part of an example problem previously solved in class. For example, ask students to re-evaluate the new problem, predict the new outcome, or design a different solution.
  • To help students manage their time, consider providing time markers or suggested lengths of time to spend on a question or section.
  • Decide how you will respond should a student experience technical difficulties or lose internet access during the exam. Setting up a temporary Google phone number available only during the exam period can allow students to contact an instructor or TA if the instructional staff does not want to give out their personal cell phone numbers.
  • Consider adding a “question zero” that asks students to affirm that they are upholding the Honor Code.

Preparing students for an exam

  • Remind students of the exam logistics (when the exam will be administered, how to access the exam, etc.) and supplies they should have available (i.e. laptop, power cord, phone for scanning documents, calculator, a quiet place to work, etc)
  • Acknowledge that students may be feeling anxious or worried while preparing for the exam and that this is normal. Explain how the exam fits with the course’s overall goals and what it will measure. Remind students that this is one of many opportunities to demonstrate their learning in the course. 
  • Provide multiple opportunities to communicate and clarify expectations, for example: 
    • Create a FAQ sheet for students (example FAQ sheet here) to address common questions around the exam that includes three sections
      • How should I prepare to take an exam remotely? This will vary depending on how the exam is administered, but you can refer to the student guides for taking exams in Gradescope, Canvas Quizzes, or Assignments for text you can borrow.
      • What if I have questions during or as I'm submitting the exam? Whether you share a Zoom meeting or a phone number, make sure students can contact you and/or your TA in case of content or technical questions.
      • How does the honor code apply to this exam? This includes "What is permitted on the exam" and "What is not permitted".
  • Provide multiple opportunities to communicate and clarify expectations, for example: 
  • Create an FAQ sheet for students to address common questions around the exam
  • Review the Honor Code and what is and is not permitted during the exam. There are some examples in the FAQ sheet linked above.
  • Consider hosting a live Zoom session to discuss the testing process and answer student questions “in person” to mirror what you would do during the regular school year.
  • Discuss what a student should do if they lose internet access during the exam. 
  • Consider hosting a “practice exam” for students before the real exam. This might include having students:
    • Walk through downloading and uploading the exam.
    • Try accessing TA help during the exam to get questions answered.
    • Practice answering questions and uploading content.  

During the exam

Maintain a clear channel of communication for students to ask instructors and TAs questions during the exam.

  • If the exam is administered during a short window, such as during the scheduled class meeting period, consider having a zoom session open for students to ask clarification questions. Set up the zoom with a waiting room so that students can be admitted one at a time.
  • If the exam will be open for a longer period of time, such as 24 hours, consider assigning instructors and TAs to shifts so someone will be available throughout the exam period via email or zoom.

Planning future assessments

  • Consider ways to adapt exams into smaller assessments throughout the quarter. This lowers the stakes for any single assignment and builds in more flexibility.
  • Consider different modes of assessment other than exams. For example: 
    • Have students work in groups to write their own exam problems and solutions, then have peers give feedback
    • Have students create short videos of them explaining how to solve a problem.
    • Assign more group projects, emphasizing group work as a skill for the real world
  • The Center for Teaching and Learning is available to discuss possible options for your course

Academic Accommodations

OAE Guidance for Students on Exam Accommodations During Spring Quarter Online

Teach Anywhere FAQs on Academic Accommodations

Relevant Policies and Interpretation of the Honor Code from OCS

General Policy FAQs

Teach Anywhere FAQs - Spring Quarter

When You’re Concerned About a Student

The Red Folder Spring 2020

If you need immediate outreach to a student, contact:

Graduate Life Office (Graduate Students)
650-723-7288, pager ID 25085

Resident Deans (Undergraduate Students)