Whether testing in a traditional brick and mortar school or taking an examination online, it is not uncommon for students to find themselves feeling some level of anxiety. Test anxiety or nervousness can be just as prevalent with online classes as with more traditionally structured testing environments. Although there are a number of formats that can be used for taking online exams, following are a few helpful tips for before, during and after the online test.
Before the Exam
Unlike typical classroom settings where all you have to have for a test is paper and a writing utensil, when taking online classes, technology is heavily involved. As such, before the examination, it is important to take the time to make sure all of your technical components are up and running at peak performance. Check to make sure your internet connection is operable, that you can quickly access the classroom and the testing site. If your online course uses Blackboard or Java, make sure to run a system test and download Java if necessary. In addition, make sure you have all the codes or passwords from your professor to gain access.
Gather all the materials you need for the test that are allowable. You don’t want to waste time during the examination trying to find things. If you have several websites you need to access, upload them prior to the examination. If you are allowed to use a textbook, have it ready.
If you have pop up blockers that can prevent you from seeing the information necessary to take the examination, make sure to disable them prior to the test.
Make sure you study. This sounds like a no brainer; however, some students attempt to rely on recall and having the availability of classroom resources to take an examination. This system may work for some; however, nothing beats putting a few hours in and studying.
Think through where you plan to take your examination. Make sure that for the time you need for the test, the “test taking area” is quiet and distraction free.
During the Exam
Breathe! Yes breathe. Taking a few moments to breathe in deeply and expel will help you to calm down before you actually engage in test taking. Now is the time to focus, relax, and be confident in your preparation for the exam.
Ensure you read all exam instructions prior to beginning. What you don’t want is to get half way through and discover because you didn’t fully read and comprehend the instructions that you have completed a portion of your exam incorrectly. This can be decidedly disastrous if the examination is timed, so make sure to read everything first.
If your examination is not timed and you can save and come back to it later, test out the saving and reentering the exam to make sure it works before you actually begin completing the examination. Again, you don’t want to have completed a significant portion of the work only to find that it is lost because of some problem with the ‘saving’ mechanism.
Most online examinations instruct you to not use the browser’s ‘forward’ and ‘back’ buttons. Only use what the instructions indicate should be used.
Once you complete an answer, do not click the “next” button more than once. This may advance you too far in the examination and you may not be able to go back and complete the questions you may have missed.
If the examination is timed, be mindful of how long it is taking you to answer each question so you don’t run out of time and have a significant number of questions left unanswered. If you have time left, review your questions before hitting the submit button.
After the Exam
It is always a tremendous relief to get to that last question with a few minutes to spare. However, there are still a few very important things to keep in mind.
When students are nervous or tired, it is not uncommon to hit the save butt and fail to submit the completed examination. Make sure you submit your work when done.
Most online examinations, once the test has been submitted, will provide a confirmation page or number. Make sure to print or write the confirmation date, time, and any assigned number down for future reference. Computers are fallible and sometimes errors are made. You want to have your own confirmation just in case.
Lastly, remember, this is one test and not the totality of your work as a student. Even if you don’t do as well as you thought you should have, it’s okay. There will be plenty of opportunities to make up for it. Now you have a chance to breathe, relax, and get ready for what’s coming next!