Whether your kids are home from college trying to finish out their terms or navigating online learning and testing in middle or high school, they’re probably among the millions of students studying online for the first time. And that means they’ll probably be taking tests online too.
On their own, tests can be stressful. Doing them in a new way, with new tools and technologies, different rules and in a new environment can make the existing stress worse. Navigating those pressures in a world that is also uncertain can feel overwhelming.
That’s totally understandable.
The company I run helps schools and companies deliver online tests. We work with major colleges, assessment companies such as the SAT and TOEFL and even technology companies such as Google to design and run safe and secure online tests. Over the past few years, we’ve delivered millions of online tests and helped millions of students demonstrate their skills and knowledge. In fact, we’ve been an active part of more online testing than anyone, probably ever.
I bring this up because in the process of helping millions of students, we’ve learned a few things about how to prepare for and succeed with online testing. Whether your children are taking tests on our system or not, here are a few tips and suggestions to help them do their best while taking a test or a quiz or an exam online.
The first thing to do is relax. Breathe. Try not to build added anxiety in advance.
Remind them that an online test is no different than taking that same test in the classroom. It may feel different, but it’s really the same. Someone, a teacher or a proctor may be watching and will be there to help, but that’s no different than being physically in school. And generally, the same rules apply. If the teacher allowed the use of outside resources like a page of notes, they apply online too, just as they would in your classroom.
In fact if you look at it differently, an online test can even be better in some ways than taking that same test in a classroom. For example, your student can pick where they take the test – in the living room, at the kitchen table, in a comfortable chair, wherever helps them feel at ease.
Speaking of where to take the tests, try to help them find somewhere that is private, has good lighting, and is free of noise and distractions. Not only will this help them concentrate and perform well, it will reduce the likelihood of testing delays and interruptions from your test proctor.
Just as having someone come into a classroom during a classroom test is disruptive and would cause the teacher to pause and ask questions, the same will be true online. Just try to find a place they can be alone for the time of the test, put a sign on the door, cordon off the dining room, tell everyone in the house they need quiet time, what you need to do.
Just as they would have to do in class, be sure any notes, papers, cell phones are put away before the test starts. Using a clean, clear table or work area is the best suggestion for a smooth, interruption-free experience.
Tell them not to be surprised if the teacher or test proctor asks to see where they are taking the test. Unlike a classroom, the teacher can’t see everyone’s desk at the same time, they may need to glance at the desk or table. If that happens, they should not feel singled out, everyone is having to do it. And it’s done to prevent interruptions and distractions once the test starts. If they can start with a clear work area and non-test tools put away, the test will probably be faster and smoother.
If possible, before they start, ask about and review the teacher’s and the school’s rules and policies for online tests. Many of them have specific requirements. Having photo ID available is a common one for high school and college test takers. If that’s a school requirement, be sure it’s handy. And know what types of ID are accepted.
Don’t let them be caught off guard and taken off their game by a school rule you or they didn’t know about. The idea again is to limit interruptions during the test, to get it started right away so they can show off what they know.
Test the computer before the test begins. Be sure the speakers and microphone and keyboard and whatever else they need are working. Check the internet connection. It’s the online equivalent of bringing a pencil or pen to class for a test – be sure they have what they need and that it works. If there are any doubts, ask for help from the teacher before the testing period starts. And don’t be afraid to bring up a problem with a proctor. They are there to help and probably have a very good solution.
That’s it. Oh, and be sure they are rested. And that they study. Every test or exam, whether online or in-person, is designed so students can show off. If they know their stuff and are prepared, they will do every bit as well online as they would in a classroom, maybe even better.
So, relax. And help them relax. The process may be new but it’s not scary. Have confidence and know that their teachers, friends – even test proctors like us – want them to do well. We know they will.
About the Author:
Scott McFarland is the CEO of ProctorU, the leading provider of live and blended proctoring services for online and remote learning and assessment. Additional advice on taking online tests can be found at: https://www.proctoru.com/live-plus-resource-center#what