Online Exams: Are They Really Better?

Have you ever been taking an exam and can’t help but notice how uncomfortable it is sitting in those plastic desks hunching over your paper?

All you can think about is how much better you would be doing on the exam if you were taking it in the comfort of your home in pajamas. Well, in college you will sometimes get the opportunity to do just so. But don’t get too excited yet; while online exams might sound like the greatest (and comfiest!) invention, there are many disadvantages.

Waking up in your pj’s and taking the exam at home is a great feeling, but this also means the Internet could be unreliable. Internet connections at a house aren’t typically as good as they are at a school, especially if you live in the country. If you’re in the middle of your exam and all of the sudden you lose connection, you might not be able to finish.

To avoid this, make sure to take your exam at a location where you’re sure the Internet is reliable—this will most likely be an academic building, library or coffee shop. I’ve had many classes where the final grade was based off only our exams, so messing up an exam because of a little computer mistake could really hurt.

On a positive note, taking an exam online means you can use your notes and friends to help solve answers. Problem-solving with others in the class helps arrive at answers quicker and easier, which takes off a lot of stress. The calmer setting makes the process more relaxing, but working with others could make it harder to learn the material. Because you’re all helping each other out, everyone doesn’t need to know all the answers by heart like you would taking the exam in person. Regardless if the exam is for your major or not, you’re paying to take the class, so you might as well actually learn the material. Help is good for those few questions that have you stumped, but don’t “use” your classmates for much more than that.

One other negative aspect of online exams is not being able to directly ask the instructor for explanation on a confusing question. Professors don’t always do a good job of proof-reading exams before printing them, and there’s been numerous times that an instructor has had to give question clarification before we take the exam. If this happens online, you’re at a disadvantage not being able to ask for help in person.

While I mostly focused on the cons of online exams, there are many good sides to being able to take them at your luxury. Some exams require you to take them during the time you would normally have class, but some will be open all day. If so, this gives you the chance to either sleep in and get extra rest, or be able to get up early and have time to study then take it when you feel ready.

A lot of students in high school get excited to go to college knowing that a good portion of the exams are online. Taking the exam leisurely at the location of your choice is definitely a benefit, but in the end, is it really better than taking it in person? My word of advice: even though it’s online and you can use notes and other people, still study as if you were taking it online in the classroom. This way you’ll feel more confident in your answers, you can breeze through it faster, and use your notes as reference if you really need to.

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Jordyn Timpson

Jordyn Timpson

Jordyn Timpson is a junior at Michigan State University working towards her journalism degree with a specialization in documentary film. She designs and writes for a campus magazine and is a server at Bob Evans. When Jordyn has free time she likes to watch movies and her favorite show Breaking Bad, spend hours on tumblr, go on adventures with friends and travel.
Jordyn Timpson

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