How to Take an Online Test

As a student, it's inevitable that you will have to demonstrate your knowledge by taking tests.

Online testing can differ from in-class testing in important ways. Online tests offer unique challenges including the need for stable Internet connections, a lack of a live professor to ask questions to and the possibility of not knowing how far along you are during the test.

The following tips can enhance your online testing success. Be sure to also check out our 17 Tips for Studying in Nursing School, submitted by students just like you.

  1. Test your technology. Usually all you need to take an in-class test is a sharp pencil. But online testing requires a reliable Internet connection and a computer with appropriate software. If you cannot create this environment at home, consider taking your test at your workplace or library. Give yourself plenty of time in advance to download necessary software and test your application. Keep the numbers for technical support handy in case you need to contact someone for assistance.
  2. Don't cram. The freedom that comes with online learning to be able to study when and where you please puts the responsibility on you to determine how you will accomplish this. The lack of structure may tempt you to delay until the deadline for test-taking looms. Avoid cramming at the last minute by scheduling days on your calendar when you will study smaller chunks of material.
  3. Know the rules. Check for directions regarding what is allowable and what is not. For example, can you look up answers? Are the questions timed? Can you change your answer? Do you have to answer a question before you can progress to the next? Is there is a penalty for wrong answers? Once you know the rules, you can make better decisions, such as whether to guess or leave answers blank and return later.
  4. Schedule time. There is typically a window of opportunity in which you are allowed to take your test. Don’t procrastinate until the last minute. If you encounter a technical difficulty or other problem, you will still have time to finish the test at a later date. If, for some reason, you miss taking the test, notify your instructor as soon as possible.
  5. Keep pace. You can estimate how long a paper test will be from the volume of pages. But an online test might not always give you this feedback. Seek indicators that help you keep on track by noting what you have finished, and what is left to go such as “question 12 of 25,” or a progress bar that fills in, or a clock that counts down time.
  6. Get comfortable. Sit in a chair that is at the correct height and has a comfortable seat and make sure your screen has no glare.
  7. Avoid distractions. If you are taking your test at home, make certain that you are able to concentrate on the test and not the demands from children, pets, housework, cooking, and other concerns that tug on your time. Turn off the television and reduce the clutter near your computer. Try taking the test when your house is quiet, such as when children are at school, or after they have gone to bed. If it is difficult to create an ideal environment at home, consider taking the test at an alternate location, like a local library.
  8. Stay calm. Most students experience some anxiety when taking a test. In fact, a little anxiety can make you more alert, which will help you when answering questions. But too much anxiety may cause you to make mistakes. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep and eat a nourishing meal before the test. For added help, see our post on Overcoming Test Anxiety in 4 Steps.
  9. Organize resources. Your teacher may allow you to take an “open book” test, which means that you can use resources to help you answer the questions. Take advantage by gathering your books, notes, articles and other materials ahead of time. Organize them in a way that makes information easier to find, especially during a timed test. This might mean placing a sticky not on the edge of the paper, or highlighting certain passages. This preparation is also a good review. You may find that by test day, you already know the answers!

You don’t need to try all of the tips in order to be successful. Choose two or three that are easy for you to incorporate into your routine, and evaluate if they were beneficial. Over time, expand your strategies to include more until you are an expert test taker.

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