Online Test Taking for Today’s Students
Online test-taking can solve many issues. As a fourth-year student at the University of Florida, I have experienced taking exams throughout the semester in allocated classrooms all across the university due to large volumes of students taking the same exam at the same time. For example, in a typical Physics class at UF, there are at least 300 students. It would be impractical to attempt to test that many students in one room without chaos or the threat of major cheating. Thus, several smaller classrooms must be reserved to spread out all 300 students taking the exam.
This can also be a long and tedious process, and classrooms are not always available because they are already in use. To avoid this situation, many teachers opt to use a testing service called ProctorU. ProctorU is a live online proctoring service that allows students to take exams on their computers. Proctors hired by ProctorU use a specific protocol to replicate the face-to-face proctoring experience through the internet. Through this process, proctors can see the student, see what they are doing on their computer screen, and monitor their testing environment. Because of their adherence to high accreditation standards within the industry, ProctorU is used among colleges throughout the country.
To take a test:
- Register for ProctorU and select an available time to take the exam on the assigned day of your exam
- Have your valid photo ID with you
- Close all programs on your computer except for the allowed websites
- Have Adobe Flash Player previously installed or updated
- Have a phone or mirror ready to allow the proctor to view the screen of the computer before the exam begins
- Have your entire work area/testing space cleared before taking the exam — this includes notes on a wall or papers underneath the desk
- The testing environment must be in a private area, preferably quiet and well-lit
- You will be asked to remove all cell phones, smartwatches, and tablets before starting the exam
- The proctor must be able to see your face through the camera of your computer for the entire duration of the exam
- The proctor will start the exam once all requirements are met, as well as the timer if the exam is timed
- For additional technical specifications, click here.
Students who use ProctorU have commented that it is a fairly easy program to use and many have never had any issues. Some, however, have noted that it can be a bit awkward at first and that they have had problems arise. For example, one student’s microphone on their laptop did not work, so they had to use the Chat Box available to the student and proctor. Another student noted: “I haven’t had any difficulties with ProctorU, but I always make sure to be sitting down and have it open about 20-30 minutes before the exam. That way I know everything is working and that my area is approved as clear of any study materials.”
To give themselves the best chance at a successful testing experience, students should set up their registration with ProctorU early in the semester. Most times, students can look at their syllabus to see when the exams are scheduled. They should sign up for their exams 72 hours prior (or more if possible) so they can get a time slot that works best for them. Students should also test out the system before their exam appointment time to verify that their system is ready to go. If a problem were to occur before or during the exam, the proctor should have the knowledge and tools to help find a solution (see the Chat Box resolution noted above). Most issues using ProctorU are, indeed, attributed to technical glitches. If there are technical difficulties during the exam, ProctorU will document them and communicate with the students’ instructors to make alternative arrangements. Utilizing ProctorU is one way that the University of Florida can test their students without compromising the integrity of the student body while also maintaining a high level of academic rigor.
There is now another form of online proctored testing called Honorlock. This on-demand proctoring service monitors your screen while you take an exam but there is not an actual person watching you. It also locks you on the browser of your exam so you can’t look things up. This form of proctored testing may or may not be available for your exam.
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Stella J. Fedele, HaveUHeard Intern