Learning Technology@LJMU


Blog Post: Staff Guidance for Conducting Online Exams

Blog Post: Staff Guidance for Conducting Online Exams

This document outlines recommendations and guidance for running online exams during the temporary suspension of face-to-face teaching. 

Key Principles 

  • Keep it simple: We want to keep the process as simple and as flexible for you and your students. We don’t want you to have to learn complex technologies and processes in isolation without support. We hope that this will reduce stress for both you and your students.  
  • Communicate clearly: Ensure you have written clear instructions to help students understand how the exam will work. 
  • Getting used to the new technology: Allow time and opportunities for students to become accustomed to any new technology which will be used for summative submission 
  • This is not face to face: As with the migration of teaching, it is important to note that simply migrating in-class approaches into a virtual domain may not be the best solution. If redesigning an exam for online delivery, there may have to be significant changes made to the design of the assessment. 
  • Do the best you can: Do the best you can, we understand there may not be equivalents. 


  • General reliability: Online can offer a degree of reliability but can never be as robust as face-to-face invigilated exams. There suggestions in the guide to increase the reliability.  
  • Broadband reliability: Students with poor and unreliable internet connections may find the exam loads slowly or may even disconnect and close the exam. There are suggestions to reduce the disruption this may cause. It is strongly recommended that you use a hard-wired connection plugged directly into your computer instead of a wireless connection when taking quiz. A wireless connection will work but is NOT recommended because small fluctuations in your internet connectivity may interfere with the exam. If needed, move to another computer that has a wired internet connection (instead of a wireless connection). 
  • Canvas reliability: Canvas does occasionally have issues that may affect the running of the exam. Invigilators are recommended to check this website and monitor it for potential issues during the exam.  
  • Third party solutions: Some staff use non-Canvas solutions for online tests and quizzes. If these are to be employed for delivery of online exams, it is very important that the scope of support and system availability are made clear by the provider and made clear to staff and students involved. Any issues with non-institutional solutions are likely to take longer to resolve and it may not be possible for the TEL team to provide a resolution. 
  • Long text answers: It is NOT recommended that students type long answers into online exams as the text is not saved as they write, and any disruption could lead to them losing work.  
  • Time allowed for the exam: It is not recommended that exam times are shortened to account for the ability of students to potentially access supportive materials to answer questions. A far better approach is to write exam questions that challenge students beyond the level of recall. This can be coupled with levels of randomisation that make it harder for students to share answers (see Question Banks below).  
  • Images: If you intend to include an image in the questions make sure you include a direct link to the image as well as embedding the image. The student might be using a browser that might not display the image within the question text and will need to download it. Include an image question in any mock exam to help students identify any issues. Use the same process as used to add links to files within pages shown here.
  • Invigilation/support: You will need to be available during this period to help with any technical issues. Students should be able to contact you immediately, if they are locked out of a test or experience problems. Student s should also know how to send screengrabs if necessary (Windows Instructions or Apple Mac Instructions).  You should be familiar with the processes in Canvas that extend time allowed and grant additional attempts. Read the guidance below on how to provide extra time. 
  • How long does the exam last: Divide up the exam into sections and have more than one exam, with breaks in-between. Breaks will reduce student anxiety, and the impact of any outages or reliability for students.  
  • Preparations for students with disabilities: Candidates with disabilities should be advised to contact the assessment centre well in advance to ensure that adequate provision is made for their needs. Read the guidance below on how to provide extra time.  
  • Create a mock exam: Allow students to sit a short mock exam to allow them to familiarise themselves with the system and provide you with feedback if they encountered any issues. Practice materials should draw attention to the help features of the software. Read about minimum technological requirements for Canvas and communicate this to students. Do a browser check for Canvas. Disable pop-up blockers: Pop-up blockers may interfere with the normal functioning of Canvas. If you have pop-up blockers, you must disable them. Only open the Canvas quiz browser window. Other programs and browsers can interfere with a Canvas quiz. Do not close the browser window while taking the exam. 
  • Mobile: While Canvas is functional on mobile devices, using them does not offer the same level of reliability or security as provided by a desktop or a laptop computer.  We strongly recommend that students complete any assignment, test, or quiz on a more stable internet connection with a desktop or laptop, if possible. 


The following are suggested guides to read while setting up, invigilating and marking the exam.  

Create Question Banks 

Replicating the rigour of an in-class invigilated exam using technology and at a distance is almost impossible. The only way to create something close to this is to create each student’s exam from an online back of randomly selected questions. The larger this bank is the less chance student have of collaborating or sharing the answers or googling the answer. 

Make more than one question bank in order to ensure students get a range of hard and easy questions from different subject areas.  

How do I create a question bank in a course? 

How do I move multiple questions from one question bank to another? 

How do I move/copy a question from one question bank to another? 

Create the Exam 

How do I create a quiz with a question group linked to a question bank? 

It is recommended that you use the following settings.  

  • Set answers to ‘shuffle’ you can shuffle (randomise) MCQ answers.  
  • Do NOT select ‘Allow multiple attempts’ 
  • Do NOT select “let students see their quiz responses’. 
  • Set this to show one question at a time 

Set the Time Limit of the Exam 

You can choose to set a time limit by entering the number of minutes students have to complete the entire quiz. Timed quizzes begin once a student begins the exam and will not be paused if the student navigates away from the quiz. An unfinished timed quiz will be automatically submitted when the time limit expires. 

Apply a Grades Post Policy 

Hide the grades from the students by applying the ‘Manually’ option in the Grades area. Please follow this guide. Grades can then be released to all students at the same time. 

How to provide students with extra time 

Once I publish a timed quiz, how can I give my students extra time? 

Moderating a Live Exam 

Please use this guide while you are invigilating. This will allow you to re-release exams for students who have had issues.  

Once I publish a quiz, how do I use the Moderate Quiz page? 

Marking the Exam and Releasing the Grades 

We recommend that you mute the grades before the exam. This will give you time to sort out any issues if there are any before releasing the final grades. We also recommend that you use Canvas Speedgrader to mark the student work and check any answers.  

How do I manually submit outstanding student quiz submissions? 


Canvas experts and the TEL team are available to help answer your questions. Use one of the following methods to get in touch. Visit canvas.ljmu.ac.uk and use the help icon in the main menu to Chat to Canvas support, submit a ticket or call a Canvas expert. Support is available 24/7. All Canvas queries should be logged with this service, in the first instance. Please be assured that any issues they are unable to resolve will be immediately passed to the TEL helpdesk.  For other TEL queries (Panopto, Turnitin) submit a ticket via the LJMU helpdesk . 

Case studies

LJMU case study to provide you with inspiration

Will Swaney introduces his continuous assessment and an innovative way of creating statistical data on his research skills and employability module to increase student motivation and engagement. https://ltech.ljmu.ac.uk/?page_id=9044

CASE STUDY: USING QUIZZES TO ENCOURAGE STUDENTS AND ASSESS PROGRESS. Outlines how quizzes were used with medium and large modules to assess student understanding


Parts of the guide are adapted from here. Thanks for the TEL team in Edcation and Health Faculty. 

This guidance was informed by the BSI standard 23988:2007 Information technology. A code of practice for the use of information technology (IT) in the delivery of assessments.