What to Really Expect on Your First Online Course Exam or TECEP®

computer mouse on exam answer sheet
Taking an online exam can be intimidating. If you went to high school or college in the 90s — like me — you took tests on paper, either filling in bubbles or trying to fill up a blue book. At Thomas Edison State University, though, your course and TECEP® exams are primarily taken online. So, after you’ve studied, gathered your pen and scrap paper (and whatever else your syllabus or test description allows) and logged into the online proctoring service, you might be unfamiliar with this new testing experience. To help you get accustomed to your new assessment space, here’s what you can expect during an online exam that differs from the little blue book or bubbles you remember.

Before Your Test Starts

For TECEP® and course exams, you will see several introductory screens before the assessment starts. Don’t worry — reading these screens does not count against your time limit for the exam. It is important to read the screens thoroughly. My team, the Center for Learning and Technology staff, recently revised them to be shorter, focusing on the most important information. They won’t take long to read, but they’ll help you stay on top of things during your exam.
First, a general information screen explains how to navigate through the questions. Then, you will be given information about the assessment you are about to take. You will see how many sections it has, what kinds of questions are on it, the time limit and materials allowed. This is in your syllabus or test description, too, but it’s a helpful reminder before you get started. Finally, you will need to initial the University’s honor statement. This is a reminder that the University takes academic integrity seriously. Cheating can carry heavy consequences and just isn’t worth it.

Once Your Test Begins

Once you have made it through the introductory screens, your timed assessment will start. You will see directions on the left side of your screen and questions on the right, one at a time. If your assessment has multiple choice questions, those will usually be the first to appear. You will select an answer choice, click “Next Question” or “Previous Question” to move through the section, flag questions with the “Assessment Navigator” button and use other available resources, such as a formula sheet.
If you are writing essays, the sections will be set up the same way: directions on the left; essay question on the right. You will only have a text box to type your answer, so you won’t have the option to format your response (bold, italicize, etc.) as you write your response. Keyboard shortcuts, such as Tab and Ctrl+C, will not be available, either.
Within each section, you will be able to see which question you’re on (for example, “12 of 25”). Throughout the exam, you will also have a timer displayed in the upper right-hand corner; this tells you how much time you have left and is a helpful tool for budgeting your time.
You will click “Submit” when you get to the end of each section. But make sure that you are really ready to continue, because you will not be able to return to that section once you’ve moved forward. A warning will appear if there are any questions left unanswered. If you really don’t know the answer, it’s worth it to guess rather than leave a question blank.

After Your Test Ends

At the end of your test, a feedback screen will appear telling you when you can expect your grade to be posted. If your exam was all multiple choice, your score will appear in your course Gradebook right away, or in the feedback screen itself for TECEP® examsIf your test had any essays or other open-ended questions, your grade will be posted when your mentor or grader has evaluated those responses.

Topics: Taking Courses, Credit by Exam