What to Expect When Taking an Online Proctored Test

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As with many other aspects of nursing school during these unprecedented times, proctored tests have been making the switch to online.

Let us provide a bit of background. Proctored exams, if you didn’t already know, are those done under the supervision of a proctor or monitor in a controlled setting. In a traditional school setting, these exams would typically be given in person. Given today’s circumstances, these proctored exams are able to be done remotely – nearly anywhere with a strong internet connection – using a secure, online platform.

For many students, this school year will bring their first remote proctored exam experience. If you have a remote proctored exam in your future and are wondering what the experience will be like, here’s a guide to help you prepare – this way, you’ll be able to focus on preparing for the test itself, not how you’ll be taking it.

Know the details

Prior to the exam, you will want to be on the lookout for information from the test administrator. The test administrator could be your instructor – or if you’re taking the TEAS, from ATI. This information will often include a detailed guide to using the remote testing platform, technology requirements, exam details, and anything else you may need to know ahead of time.

Perform a dry run

If available, it’s important to perform a dry run. This is, essentially, a dress rehearsal for your exam day. It’s important to do this a few days prior to your exam and that the dry run is performed on the same device and, if possible, in the same location that you will be taking your remote exam.

ATI Advice: Students taking the ATI TEAS will receive a TEAS Dry Run Guide via email. Students taking other remote ATI exams will most likely receive dry run information from their instructor as part of a remote testing Quick Start Guide.

Give yourself plenty of time

Double check the date, time, and time zone of your test. Log in early to make sure you have time to get the software set up and ready.

ATI Advice: This may often come from your instructor, or if you are taking the TEAS Exam, an email from ATI or your testing center.

Tech check

The administrator of the exam should also provide a list of technology requirements before test day. This may include things such as internet speed requirements to webcam / microphone capabilities to device type.

ATI Advice: You can see the full list of technical requirements here. 

Software + browser extension

Check to see if your exam requires a specific software type or browser extension. Download this ahead of time and make sure that it’s able to run on your computer.

ATI Advice: Many remote ATI exams require a Chrome extension.

Set up for success

Make sure your home testing environment is ready to go before you log in to test. You will most likely be asked to have your webcam and microphone on. Find a quiet, well-lit room for your test, so that your webcam has no trouble recognizing you. If you have kids, have someone else watch them during your test. Keep pets out of your testing room.

Next, focus on your desk space and materials. In general, you’ll be allowed a glass of water, one sheet of scratch paper and a pencil/pen, and your computer. Keep your student ID or other photo ID nearby – you’ll need it. Beyond that, keep your area uncluttered: Make sure books, notes, your phone, and anything else that could potentially provide test answers has been put away.

Get your device exam ready

To start your test, go through your desktop and close all non-test windows and documents. If too many other programs are running when you start, you’ll get a RAM warning when you try to begin your test. When you’re ready, log in to your student portal or other designated testing website, find the test, and click begin.

Grant proper access

In most cases, you’ll be asked to follow a series of prompts, allowing your testing program access to your webcam and microphone and asking you to share your screen. During this series, you may have to show a photo ID to the camera in order to verify your identity. Your specific testing guide will have any details you need to be aware of.

The camera testing + desk scan

There most likely will be a brief webcam image test to make sure the camera can record a good image – it will give you an error message if it’s too dark.

You may then be prompted to do a desk scan to show where you’re taking the exam, showing your desk and surrounding area so that the proctors or testing technology can make sure it’s free of unauthorized materials. If you haven’t cleaned and staged your desk to Instagram level, no worries: no one is grading your desk!

Exam time

Once it’s go time, don’t refresh your screen or exit out of it at any point during your exam. If you need to go to the bathroom, most proctored exams allow for a way to pause your test for up to five minutes. In the case of other problems or testing issues, there’s a button to chat in for live help.

The grand finale

When your test is finished and submitted, you can exit the testing screen. If it is an ATI exam, you will return to your student portal.

That’s all there is to it! As long as your testing device can handle the technology requirements and you can find a well-lit, uncluttered space to take your exam, you’re good to go. Good luck, and happy studying!

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