Top tips for online exams
By: Jeffrey Low
The transition to online courses and exams prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak has left many students feeling overwhelmed, a new survey from McMaster’s Student Success Centre says.
The poll, which surveyed almost 300 students, indicated that “academics” (67%) and “online learning and studying” (61%) were the top areas where students felt they needed support.
“Students might not have access to the people and places that helped them feel comfortable and be productive in the past. A big challenge is to create a new space for working while staying connected with those who can offer support,” says Mary McCaffery, SSC’s academic skills program coordinator.
With exams just around the corner, finding that support is key – so McCaffery has developed the following tips for students preparing for online exams.
Organize your notes:
- Use tables to make concepts and terms easy to find and review.
- Create mind maps to connect ideas and recall facts.
- Use a wall in your study space to put up post-it notes with course content. Organize the post-it notes by theme to group related ideas and find connections.
- Keep a list of page numbers to help you cite and refer to important course content during the exam.
- For open-book exams, put tabs on important pages for quick reference.
Preparing on test day
- Get enough sleep and eat breakfast.
- Set up a quiet place where you can take the test. Ideally, use a table or desk.
- Tell others living in your home (i.e. family, roommates) that you will be writing a test and need a quiet space.
During the test
- Read every question carefully, and make sure you understand before trying to answer. It’s easy to lose marks by misreading questions.
- For long-answer questions in paragraph form, keep your paragraphs organized. Make sure your answer has the following components:
- A topic sentence that introduces your point
- Supporting evidence
- A sentence explaining why your evidence is relevant to your point
- For long-answer questions in essay form, consider writing a very brief outline. This will help you organize your ideas and sources before you start writing.
- Write clearly and directly. Use simple, effective terms. Avoid unnecessary or complicated language.
- Cite your sources according to your professor’s instructions.
For additional support, students can connect with the SSC academic skills team by emailing email@example.com.