The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Exam Handling



Exams scheduling and proctoring is not easy once we have students taking the course from all corners of the world. Here are various options:

  1. Assignment Activity
    • You can run the exam as an Assignment in Moodle (through the Add an Activity or Resource link on the Moodle course section where you want to place the exam)
    • If you are lucky and manage to find a time/date that all students are available, then schedule the assignment to be visible to students at the time when the exam is to start, and set the due date to the finish time of the exam.
      • 2 hours is a time window many of us find appropriate to allow for technical difficulties but not give much room for cheating
      • Some students will invariably have trouble uploading. The system allows them to upload late (the submission time will be recorded).
      • Students can submit their answers via email if they are having a tough time uploading.
    • We need to offer flexibility given the circumstances. Having high expectations, but placing high trust on students may be the best option we have.
      • One alternative is to make the exam available for a longer period (say 48hrs) but tell students that once downloaded they need to submit within the allowed exam time (say 2hrs)
      • Moodle keeps track of the times each student first accesses the exam and submits it, so you can ensure they complied.  To get the access/submission time information for each student, click on the Course Management icon on the top (looks like gears) and then under Reports click on Logs.  Filter it for the particular activity, e.g. the name of the exam, and click Get these logs. You get both the access and submission times separately, and can then cross check the length of time they had access to the exam. 
    • It is good practice to ask students to sign on their exam that they have followed the Academic Honesty guidelines of the University. You could add the following to the top of your test:

Academic Integrity Statement

I, (student name), hereby declare that the work submitted below represents my individual effort. I have neither given nor received any help during this exam and have not consulted any online resources.


Example of student guidelines given on the exam that have worked well in the past (we thank Matt Lackner for these):

Timing and Submission

  • The exam will be uploaded to Moodle and made available at 8 am on Thursday, May 2nd.
  • Once you click on the exam to download, your clock has started, and you have 5 hours to finish.
  • To submit the exam, scan it or take pictures, and upload the images to Moodle. Then put a paper copy in the envelope outside my office.
  • You can complete the exam in any 5 hour window you like, before midnight on May 3rd, i.e. all submissions must occur before midnight on May 3rd.
  • Don't accidentally download the file!

Other notes and guidelines

  • No discussion of the problems during the exam is permitted, nor is discussion with students who have not yet taken the exam.
  • You may use the book, notes, homeworks, and a calculator, but no use of a computer is permitted.
  • Please sign the exam somewhere stating that you have followed the required academic honesty guidelines.


  1. Quiz Activity
    • The quiz activity allows you to have the quiz open for a flexible time window (say 48 hrs) but then require the student to submit within the time you allow for the quiz (say 2 hrs) after they access it.
    • Create a Quiz in Moodle (through the Add an Activity or Resource link)
    • An overview of creating and using quizzes on Moodle can be found here
    • Information about creating on-line quizzes in Moodle can be found here
    • Information on adding questions to an on-line quiz can be found here
    • You can type the questions directly or add each question of the quiz as a picture (for some reason it does not allow for attaching a file). Another option is to provide a link there to a Google drive where you have placed the exam questions.
    • If you are worried about cheating because of the flexible time schedule, you can create a pool of different questions for each quiz question and students will get a random question for each quiz question.
    • Students can provide the answers to the quiz as a file attachment (you can select the option for file attachment within Response Options)
    • You can also have multiple choice questions there that can be graded automatically.
    • The Navigation option can be set to be either sequential so students will need to answer the different quiz questions in the order you placed them, or free so students can answer in any order.

Video walkthrough of Moodle-based quizzes and exams:

Exam Proctoring

Information regarding on-line proctoring of exams for courses »

A few important points:

  • If a faculty member would like to use on-line proctoring for exams, the first step is to meet with the CTL/IDEAS team (help request link included on the form).
  • If it is decided that on-line proctoring is the right way to go, approval must be obtained from the department head and dean (probably me in this case).
  • Requests for on-line proctoring must be received by the end of the add/drop period (preferably as soon as possible).
  • The costs for on-line proctoring will covered by the UMass admin (not departments, faculty, or students).
  • Faculty must give a "pre-exam" with the proctoring software before administering the actual exam so both faculty and students are aware of the limitations.

CTL/IDEAS is really encouraging faculty to try everything possible to avoid using on-line exam proctoring. Students have raised concerns about surveillance. Cost to the university is another issue.

Proctoring Strategy using Zoom

Exam proctoring has been implemented successfully by some of our faculty over the last two semesters using Zoom.

Remote real-time exam proctoring (emulates face-to-face courses exam taking experience) without releasing an electronic copy of the exam (to avoid Chegg, and other online and technology helpers).  

What's needed

  1. Zoom (students and instructor team) 
  2. Web-camera (only students) 
  3. Cellphone or scanner (only students).  
  4. Gradescope account (students & instructor team) 

How it works: 

  1. Students join the pre-determined Zoom meeting early (10-15mins) with camera on. Instructor team has camera off at all times. Instructors can choose to record Zoom session (not recommend for privacy and FERPA reasons). 
  2. Instructor(s) check students' camera placement to make sure that their eyes and hands are visible. This is necessary to make sure students are not using chat apps, Chegg, take screen-captures, Googling, etc. 
  3. Advise students to lower their sound volume, mute their microphones, do NOT use chat and keep questions to a minimum to avoid distractions for others. It is recommended that everybody remains in the same Zoom session (no breakout rooms), so questions are answered transparently (use breakout rooms in private matters only).  
  4. Once all students have the right camera set-up, the instructor (or one of the instructors) uses Zoom share screen function to share exam document to students. To facilitate proctoring, the following approaches can be useful: 
    1. Share the exam (via share scree) only at the beginning of the exam and have all students write down all questions first (give extra 15-30mins) after than only share on demand. Exam questions should be less than one page to facilitate sharing. After the end of sharing, proctoring can happen via Zoom gallery view in Zoom, you can also pin individual students if needed. (Tested approach) 
    2. For larger classes with multiple TA and co-instructors, one instructor can share the exam while the rest of the instructor team can use the Zoom side-by-side: gallery view or enlarge to Zoom video window to view and proctor all students by periodically scrolling thought them. The instructor that shared the exam can also proctor by enlarging the floating video view window. 
  5. While still on camera, students submit their exams to gradescope by taking pictures on their phones. 


Exam Handling in Blackboard

A timed exam open over a flexible time window can be given in Blackboard by adding an Assessment à Test.

  • Enter the general instructions
  • Set the time allowed for the test: In Test Options, within the Test Availability section, there is the option to set the timer to the time allowed for test completion. You have the option to let students continue, but the test will be marked as late and the time stamp will say by how much, or to totally close the test for the students when the time runs out (the work they have done thus far will be saved).
  • Select the release time and final due date: These are the times when it will be available to students.
  • Click Submit
  • Add test questions: After creating the test, click on the arrow to its right and select Edit Test. Click on Create Question. This gives you many choices on the type of question you can add. For engineering, I find the File Response option to be the most useful. That way students can submit pictures of their work, or Excel files, etc.
  • Adding questions or even the full test as a file: In the page that comes up when creating the question, there is a box to add Question Text. In the tools offered on top of that box, on the bottom left, there is a paper clip tool which will allow you to attach a file to that question. You can attach your entire exam there, which would mean students submit a single file for you to grade, rather than having to open one file for each question of the exam!


Exam Handling in Gradescope

  • For timed exams that are open for a longer time window to provide students flexibility, the instructor can create a homework assignment and provide a release date (say 12/1/20, 10am), a final deadline (say 12/2/20 10am) and the allowed time (say 2hrs). The system also allows you to identify students that need to be granted extra time and will hold them to the appropriate time limits. The exam here is uploaded to Gradescope as a pdf file, and students submit their responses as a pdf file. See for details.

Next: Creating and Grading Assignments »