Options for online and take-home exams


Last updated Sunday, May 10, 2020, 9:30 p.m. Changes indicated in text.


Exam-related virtual workshops

View dates and times for all workshop listings

Check out this short YouTube video on how to create your exam or quiz in Canvas by CEE staff.

JUST ADDEDAcademic Integrity Talking Circle

Watch a webcast of Refining Assessment Strategies for the Online Environment.

Watch a webcast of “Remote Instruction: Putting Your Exam Online and Gathering Student Feedback” below.

Watch a webcast of “Remote Instruction: Designing Effective Take-Home/Open Book Exams” below.

Final exams

In-person exams are not permitted for the remainder of the Spring 2020 term. If you plan to administer an exam, here are some available options and supplementary information, including questions about academic integrity and accessibility. No option is ideal, but consider the following resources and try to find the best alternative for your particular class.

Options might include:

  • Prepare an online exam to be taken during already scheduled date/time.
  • Offer a take home exam. University policy states that take-home examinations cannot be due until the commencement of the official examination period. We recommend that you keep the original scheduled exam time as your submission deadline.

The online exam may be created as an assignment or a quiz in Canvas, but it is recommended that you create the take-home exam as an assignment. 

Option 1: Online timed exam

The online timed exam means that your exam will be open to students for only a window of time, ideally the original scheduled date/time of the exam. Doing this will ensure that you are allotting students adequate time to complete the exam, alleviating scheduling concerns, and abiding by university examination policy.

In order to set this exam time to the window of your previously scheduled exam time, you will want to input the start and end times for the assignment or quiz in Canvas. This will pull up if you select the calendar buttons under the title “Available From” in both the assignment and quiz editing options.

We recommend that you make this an open book exam to reduce academic dishonesty concerns. However, if you choose, you may inform your students that the exam is closed book, and insert an initial question where you ask them to agree to an honour code statement that you create (see below).

If you select on open book exam, remind your students that this does not mean they don’t need to study. The exam will be timed, and ideally they will not have time to look up responses (especially if you include multiple choice and true/false questions).

Option 2: Take-home exam

The take-home exam allows students more time to complete the exam. It is recommended that if you do so, you create it as an assignment in Canvas with an associated rubric. Creating this exam as an assignment will streamline student submission, and the rubric will help reduce marking time for TAs and instructors.

See the note in Option 1 above regarding the timing of due dates for take-home exams. They cannot be due until the official exam period begins.

NEW! In this handout, we suggest some ideas for creative take-home exams that your students will enjoy taking and you will enjoy marking!

Concerns with online exams and academic integrity

We understand that you likely have concerns about academic integrity and online exams. Here are some measures that may reduce concerns related to academic integrity.

  • Consider higher-order questions rather than questions that focus on remembering or understanding. Asking open-ended questions is the simplest way to make copying ineffective. See Different Types of Questions Based on Bloom’s Taxonomy (thanks to Danielle Murdoch, lecturer in criminology, for sharing this link).
  • Consider written responses with specific prompts in which students discuss important issues raised and potential solutions.  Require students to discuss specifics from course content and demonstrate what they’ve learned over the semester. Be sure to include word-count limits so students understand question weight in comparison to other questions. See 21 Great Reflection Questions that Add Depth to Student Learning (thanks to Danielle Murdoch, lecturer in criminology, for sharing this link).
  • Display questions one at a time, with no backtracking allowed.
  • Display questions in a random sequence, except when using a series of individual questions as steps in a more complex scaffolded question (you can still randomize response options for each question).
  • Draw questions randomly from a large question pool.
  • Randomize sequence of response options on multiple-choice questions.
  • Impose a time limit, particularly if the assessment focuses chiefly on information recall, to limit the time students would have to look up answers.

Sample template honour code statement

Adapt the declaration below to match the format of your exam.

In taking this exam you will be required to sign an honour code statement that affirms your willingness to abide with the course policies. These policies may be adjusted as per your instructor’s discretion, but selecting YES as the answer to this question affirms that you are abiding by the honour code agreement of your course.

I understand that the following activities are prohibited and will be considered cheating. I agree that I will not participate in any of the following activities:

  • Looking at or copying from another student’s exam or materials while writing the exam.
  • Conferring with other students regarding the exam.
  • Having someone else take the exam in your place.
  • Storing, receiving, and/or accessing course subject matter in a calculator, pager, cellular telephone, computer, or other electronic device that can be used during an exam period without instructor authorization.
  • Distributing the exam materials in any way.
  • Using lecture notes, textbooks, learning aids, or electronic devices during an exam when prohibited.

The honour code is an undertaking for students to abide by both individually and collectively. You should do your share and take an active part in seeing to it that you, as well as the peers in your course uphold both the spirit and letter of the honour code.

Require students to agree to these conditions before they can access this exam.

How to add an honour code statement

If you want to add an honour code statement to your exam, you will need to move your exam to a module (how to create a module in Canvas) and add an honour code prerequisite to the exam. The option honour code will be available in the dropdown menu.

Resources to help you determine the best approach

Best Practices for Online Tests | Web page | Pepperdine University Center for Teaching Excellence
Delivering a Final Exam Online | Google doc tip sheet | Created by Paul Hibbitts, SFU School of Computing Science
NEWFinal Assessment Flow Chart and advice on academic integrity | Web page | University of Saskatchewan