13.3. Taking a Proctored Exam

This topic describes how proctored exams work, requirements for the proctoring software, and steps involved in taking proctored exams.

Important

For information about the rules you must follow when you take proctored exams, see Online Proctoring Rules for Learners.

13.3.1. Proctored Exams Overview

Proctored exams are exams with time limits that you complete while online proctoring software monitors your computer. Proctoring software checks that you (as the person taking the exam) are the same person who is taking the course for credit, and detects any attempts to cheat on the exam.

If you are taking a course as a verified track student, and want to be eligible to purchase academic credit for your course, it is important that edX can make sure that you took and passed required exams in the course without cheating or using a false identity. Your course might require you to take and pass at least one proctored exam to be eligible to purchase academic credit.

To satisfy the proctored exam requirement for credit eligibility, you must take the exam as a proctored exam and receive a Satisfactory result for your proctoring session review as well as a passing grade on the exam itself. For more information about academic course credit, see Taking a Course for Academic Credit.

Proctored exams are indicated in the course with a pencil icon and a “Proctored Option Available” label.

Course navigation in the LMS showing an exam with a pencil icon and a "Proctored Option Available" label.

Note

Proctored exams are visible only if you are enrolled in the verified track for your course. If you are not in the verified track, you take the same or an equivalent exam as a regular exam, without the requirement for online proctoring.

If you want to be eligible to purchase academic credit for passing your course, make sure you enroll in or upgrade to the verified track as early as possible during the course, so that you do not miss any credit eligibility opportunities.

13.3.1.1. Choosing to Take a Proctored Exam

Most courses require you to take exams with online proctoring only if you are enrolled in the verified track. If you are not enrolled in the verified track, you do not see, or are not required to take, proctored exams.

In some courses, if you are taking the course as a verified learner, you do not have the option of taking proctored exams without proctoring. In other courses, you might be able to choose whether you want to take a proctored exam with online proctoring. If you choose to take a proctored exam without proctoring, the exam is not monitored and has no time limits. However, if you make this choice, you are not eligible to earn academic credit for your course. If you refuse the proctored option for an exam you are not offered the proctored option again for that exam.

When you agree to take a proctored exam, you are guided through the steps to install and set up the proctoring software. The proctoring setup process includes an identity verification step and a required webcam scan of the desk and room in which you will take the exam.

Your course might include a practice exam that you can take to make sure you can complete the proctoring setup steps on your computer. It usually includes several example problems that you can try to answer. For more information, see Taking a Practice Proctored Exam.

If you are not ready to take the exam right now, you can return to the exam and make your choice later. Make sure you give yourself enough time to take the exam before the due date.

Note

Before you take an exam with online proctoring, read the following documents to make sure you know what is allowed or not allowed during a proctored exam, and make sure your computer and browser version are compatible with the online proctoring software.

13.3.2. Before Taking a Proctored Exam

Before you commit to taking an exam with online proctoring, make sure you know what proctoring involves, and make sure that your computer meets the requirements to run the proctoring software. Read the edX Online Proctoring Rules.

Note

If you are a learner with disabilities, consult your organization’s Disability Resources or talk with your course team if you need additional time or specific accommodations to take the exam. If you need to request extra time or special allowances to complete the exam, do so before you make any choices on the exam page.

13.3.2.1. Know the Rules and Requirements for Online Proctoring

  • You must be on certain versions of the Windows or Mac operating systems for the proctoring software to work. Check the Proctoring Software System Requirements to make sure you are using a supported operating system version and that your computer meets the minimum system requirements for running the remote proctoring software.
  • You must have the latest version of Adobe Flash Player installed.
  • You must be using one of the browser versions supported by edX. Check the list of edX supported browsers to make sure you are using a supported browser.
  • Read the rules and requirements that are covered in the Online Proctoring Rules for Learners.

13.3.2.2. Request Additional Time or Special Allowances

If you need more time to complete your proctored exam or require exemption from particular exam policies, ask your course team or instructor about this possibility before making your choice to take the exam as a proctored exam. They will need to approve your request and make any adjustments before you start your exam.

13.3.3. Steps in Taking Proctored Exams

When you agree to take a proctored exam, you agree to install remote proctoring software, perform various identification and environment checks, and allow the software to record video and sounds while you take the exam. The next few sections describe the stages you experience when you choose to take an exam with online proctoring.

13.3.3.1. Agree to Take the Proctored Exam

When you open a proctored exam, you choose whether you want to take the exam with online proctoring.

If you choose to take the exam with proctoring, you go through steps to set up the proctoring software and take your exam. If you decline to take the exam with proctoring, you take the exam as a regular exam, without proctoring and without a time limit.

Note

In some courses, if you are taking the course as a verified learner, you do not have the option of taking proctored exams without proctoring.

For more information about how your eligibility for credit is affected when you take the exam with or without proctoring, see Choosing to Take a Proctored Exam.

13.3.3.2. Proceed With a Proctored Exam

If you agree to take the exam with proctoring, you proceed to a page that provides you with a link to download and install the online proctoring software.

The page also provides you with a unique exam code that is assigned to you for use in this exam only. This code is unique to your account and to this exam. You should not share this code, and you can use it only once.

Copy your exam code to your computer’s clipboard using keyboard shortcuts such as Control + C or Command + C. You will be asked for this code later, during the proctoring setup.

The page with your unique exam code and the "Start System Check" link for downloading and running the online proctoring software.

13.3.3.3. Perform System Checks

  1. Select Start System Check to download the online proctoring software.

    Note

    Even if you have previously installed this software, for example if you installed it for a practice proctored exam or another proctored exam, you must install it again, to make sure you have the most up to date version.

  2. Launch the online proctoring software so that it can check that you have a working camera and microphone. These checks make sure that a proctoring session can be successfully recorded on your system before you attempt to take the exam.

  3. Follow the instructions on each page. If the system checks are successful, you are prompted to enter your unique exam code.

13.3.3.4. Enter Your Unique Exam Code

After you install the online proctoring software on your computer and successfully complete the system checks, you are prompted to enter the unique exam code that was assigned to you when you agreed to take the proctored exam.

  1. If you have not already copied your exam code from the edX exam page, copy the code to your computer’s clipboard now.
  2. In the online proctoring software window, paste the code into the Exam Code field, then select Validate.
The proctoring software exam code prompt with an exam code pasted into the field.

If your exam code is valid, you see the details of your exam: the exam name and duration. Select Next.

13.3.3.5. Agree to the Terms of Service

You see the Terms of Use dialog for the proctoring software. Read the terms, then if you agree to them, select I agree.

Note

If you do not want to agree to the terms, select I don’t agree. You can then quit the online proctoring software and return to the edX course. Depending on your course, if you do not take proctored exams with online proctoring, you cannot be eligible to receive credit.

13.3.3.6. Read the Pre-Exam Advisory Information

If you have agreed to the online proctoring software’s terms of use, you see a page of Pre-Exam Advisory Information.

  1. Read the advisory information, then select Next.

    The software checks for prohibited programs.

  2. Close any prohibited programs that you are prompted about.

If you encounter any issues, select Contact Support in the proctoring software window to contact technical support.

13.3.3.7. Take a Picture of Your Photo ID

To fulfill the identity check for online proctoring, you use your webcam to take a picture of a government-issued photo ID that clearly identifies you by your full name, and that can be used to confirm your identity.

Note

If you do not complete this photo ID step, you cannot achieve a Satisfactory result for your proctoring review, and you cannot be eligible to purchase academic credit for the course.

  1. Follow the instructions to hold your card up to the webcam and position it in the frame. When you are ready to take the photo, select Take ID Photo.
  2. Preview and confirm the photo of your ID.

If you are satisfied that the photo ID picture is clear and legible, select the checkbox and select Confirm Photo ID.

If you are not satisfied that picture is clear, select Retake to try again.

13.3.3.8. Scan Your Desk and Room Using Your Webcam

You must scan the desk and room in which you will take the exam, using your webcam. The video is used to confirm that there are no unauthorized materials on your desk or table, under your desk or table, or in the room.

  1. Select Start Room Scan.

  2. Move your webcam so that it captures the area on your desk as well as under your desk, then pan around the room.

    Note

    If you cannot move your webcam, use a mirror to show the webcam your desk, under your desk, and areas around the room. You must also show the webcam both sides of the mirror you use, to prove that nothing is written on the back of the mirror.

  3. Select Stop Room Scan when you have finished providing a video capture of the requested areas.

  4. Preview and confirm the room and desk scan.

If you are satisfied that the room and desk scan clearly shows your test environment, select the checkbox and select Confirm Room/Desk Scan.

Note

Although you can select the checkbox to confirm your scan, you must wait until the recorded scan has finished replaying before you can select the confirmation button.

If you are not satisfied with the scan, select Retake to try again.

13.3.3.9. Take a Webcam Photo of Yourself

You are asked to take a photo of yourself using your webcam.

  1. Follow the instructions to position yourself in front of your webcam.

  2. When you are ready to take the photo, select Take User Photo.

    There is a countdown before the camera takes the photo.

  3. Preview and confirm that your photo is clear, and can be used to verify that you are the same person as in the photo ID.

If you are satisfied that your photo is clear, select the checkbox and select Confirm User Photo.

If you are not satisfied that picture is clear, select Retake User Photo to try again.

13.3.3.10. Return to the edX Browser and Start Your Exam

When you have completed all the verification steps, you see a page confirming that your proctored session has started. This means that you have successfully set up the proctoring software, and it has started recording a proctoring session.

Important

You must not close this browser page until you have finished your exam.

The page confirming that the proctoring session has started.

Return to the browser window where you were accessing the exam on edx.org, and take the exam.

13.3.4. Taking a Practice Proctored Exam

Your course might include an optional practice proctored exam that you can take to make sure you can complete the proctoring setup steps on your computer. It usually includes several example problems that you can try to answer.

Practice exams let you follow the steps to set up the proctoring software, perform the required identity and environment scans, and experience taking an exam with online proctoring, but your proctoring session is not reviewed.

Note

Practice exams do not affect your grade or your eligibility for credit.

To take a practice proctored exam, follow these steps.

  1. In the course, open the practice exam.

  2. On the practice exam page, select Yes, I want to take this practice exam with online proctoring.

    Note

    Remember that your proctoring session is not reviewed, and that this exam is not graded.

    On the next page, copy the unique exam code that is associated with your edX account and this practice exam. You will need to enter this code later, when you are prompted to do so during the proctoring software setup.

  3. Select the entire exam code, then use keyboard combinations such at Ctrl + C or command + C to copy the code to your computer’s clipboard.

  4. Select the Start System Check link on the page.

    Follow the instructions to download and install the proctoring software and perform system and identity checks. For more information, see Steps in Taking Proctored Exams.

    When you have successfully set up the proctoring software, your proctoring session starts.

  5. Do not close the proctoring software window. Return to the edX page where you copied your exam code, and select Start Proctored Exam.

  6. When you have completed the questions, if the exam timer has not reached 00:00, select End My Exam on the timer bar.

    The "End My Exam" button on the exam timer bar.
  7. Go to the proctoring software browser window and close the window. Confirm that you want to quit the application when you are prompted.

  8. In the browser window for the edX exam, you see the result page for your exam. Because this is a practice exam, your proctoring session is not reviewed. For a practice exam, you will see two possible results.

  • Your practice proctored exam is complete – This status indicates that you completed the exam and experienced no issues with the proctoring software.
  • Your practice proctored exam failed – This status indicates that you completed the exam, but there were issues with the proctoring software. Some parts of the proctoring checks might have failed, or the proctoring software window might have been closed before the exam ended.

You can retry a practice exam as many times as you want to. If you received a Failed result on your practice exam, you should try to fix any issues and take the practice exam again until you achieve a Completed result. Doing so will help you to make sure you can successfully take an actual proctored exam in the course.

If you continue to have issue with the proctoring software, select Contact Support in the proctoring software window.

13.3.5. Taking a Proctored Exam

All proctored exams are timed exams, in which you have a time limit to complete the exam. When a proctored exam starts, a countdown timer at the top of the edX course page also starts.

The countdown timer provides a warning when 20% of the time remains, and again when 5% of the time remains. For example, if you have 60 minutes to complete the exam, you will see a warning when there are 12 minutes remaining, and again when there are 3 minutes remaining.

If time runs out before you have completed the exam, the proctoring review is still submitted, and any answers that you have completed up to that time are also submitted. If you pass the proctoring review, you might still qualify for a passing grade with the answers you have submitted.

To take a proctored exam, follow these steps.

  1. In the course, open the proctored exam.

  2. On the page where you agree to or decline taking the exam with online proctoring, select Yes, I want to take this exam with online proctoring.

    Note

    If you decline the proctored exam option and select No, I want to take this exam without proctoring, you will not have another chance to take this exam with proctoring, and you will not be eligible to use this course for academic credit, regardless of your final grade in the course.

    On the You have Chosen To Take a Proctored Exam page, you are assigned a unique exam code that is associated with your edX account. You will need to enter it later, when you are prompted to do so during the proctoring software setup.

    After you agree to take an exam with proctoring you receive a unique exam code that you must copy.
  3. Select the entire exam code, then use keyboard combinations such at Ctrl + C or command + C to copy the code to your computer’s clipboard.

  4. Select the Start System Check link on the page. Follow the instructions to install the proctoring software and perform system and identity checks. For more information, see Steps in Taking Proctored Exams.

    When you have successfully set up the proctoring software, your proctoring session starts.

    The page confirming that the proctoring session has started.
  5. Do not close the proctoring software window. Return to the edX page where you copied your exam code, and select Start Proctored Exam.

  6. In the exam, start answering your exam questions. To receive credit for problems, you must select Submit for each problem before you end the exam.

    Important

    After you start a proctored exam, you must not close the proctoring software window, although you can minimize it.

    The timer at the upper right of the page shows the time that you have remaining in the exam.

    You cannot pause or stop the timer once you have started your exam. If you close the edX exam browser or navigate away from your exam during your proctored exam, the timer continues to count down. You cannot pause the timer. If you accidentally close the edX exam browser, you can open a new browser window and return to your exam at the point that you left it. You cannot regain any of the time that is lost in a situation like this.

  7. When you have completed the questions, if the exam timer has not reached 00:00, select End My Exam.

    The "End My Exam" button on the exam timer bar.
  8. Go back to the proctoring software browser window and close the window. Confirm that you want to quit the application when you are prompted.

    The data from your proctoring session is uploaded.

  9. In the browser window for the edX exam, you see the result page for your exam.

    You can come back to this page to check for your proctoring session review results.

There are several possible statuses for proctoring session results after you complete your exam.

  • Pending – This status indicates that the data for your proctoring session is being reviewed. It usually takes 2-3 days for results to appear for an exam.
  • Satisfactory – This status indicates that your proctoring session was reviewed, and that you have passed the review. If you also achieve the minimum credit eligibility grade in your course, you are eligible to use this course for academic credit.
  • Unsatisfactory – This status indicates that your proctoring session was reviewed, and that you did not pass the review because some suspicious activity was observed. You are not eligible to use this course for academic credit regardless of your final grade.

Check your Progress page for full details of your credit eligibility status.

13.3.5.1. Experiencing Technical Difficulties During the Exam

If your proctoring session or your exam ends unexpectedly before you complete the exam due to some technical difficulty, contact edX Support and let them know about your situation. If they agree that there is a legitimate reason, you might be able to try again to take the proctored exam. Your answers from any failed attempt are not kept.

Here are some situations that you might encounter while you are taking a proctored exam.

13.3.5.1.1. The Proctoring Software Terminates Unexpectedly

If the proctoring software crashes, the edX exam automatically stops the exam. You should contact edX Support in this situation.

13.3.5.1.2. The edX Browser Terminates Unexpectedly

If the browser in which the edX exam is running crashes, the exam timer for each learner continues to run. You should make sure the proctoring software is still running, then open a new browser window and navigate back to your edX exam. You should be able to continue your exam but you will have lost time while the browser was closed. If your proctoring software also crashed, contact edX Support.

13.3.5.1.3. You Accidentally Close the Proctoring Software Window

If you accidentally close your proctoring software windows before you have completed a proctored exam, you see alert messages warning you that you are ending your exam. If you continue to close the proctoring software window, both the exam and the proctoring session end.

Answers in the exam up to the point that the session ended are submitted for grading, but the proctoring session recording might not be completely uploaded. You should contact edX Support in this situation. Depending on the circumstances, your course team will have to decide whether your proctored exam attempt is valid.

13.3.5.1.4. You Accidentally Close the edX Exam Window

If you accidentally close the browser in which your edX proctored exam is running before you have completed the exam, there are no alerts shown to you. The exam timer continues to run. You should make sure the proctoring software is still running, then open a new browser window and navigate back to your edX exam. You should be able to continue your exam but you will have lost time while the browser was closed. If your proctoring software was also stopped, contact edX Support. Depending on the circumstances, your course team will have to decide whether your proctored exam attempt is valid.

13.3.6. Completing a Proctored Exam

When you finish a proctored exam before the count down timer reaches 00:00, select Submit to submit your responses. The exam stops, and the data from your proctoring session is uploaded to the online proctoring service for review.

13.3.6.1. Proctoring Session Review Results

While the data for your proctoring session is being reviewed, your proctoring review status is in a Pending state until a final result is available. It usually takes 3-5 days reviews to be completed.

When the review is complete, you can return to the exam page to see whether your proctoring review result is Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory.

This table summarizes the possible outcomes of a proctored exam, and what this means for your credit eligibility.

Proctoring Review Result What It Means
Pending The data from your proctoring session is still being reviewed.
Satisfactory Your proctoring session data was reviewed and there were no issues. You are eligible to purchase credit for this course if you complete all required exams in the course and also achieve a final grade that meets the credit requirements for the course.
Unsatisfactory Your proctoring session data was reviewed and there were either issues with your identity verification or evidence of suspicious activity during the exam. An Unsatisfactory result for a proctoring session review means that you are not eligible to purchase academic credit for this course, regardless of your final grade in the course. If you want to dispute this result, contact edX Support.

Note

Your proctoring session review result is separate from the score you achieve on your exam. It is possible for you to receive a Satisfactory result on the proctoring review, but not earn enough points to qualify for a passing grade on the exam. Conversely, you might receive a passing grade on the exam questions, but the proctoring review results might be Unsatisfactory.

Any Unsatisfactory result on the proctoring review means that you cannot apply for credit for the course, regardless of the grade you achieved in the exam or in the course.

13.3.6.2. Credit Eligibility on Your Progress Page

Depending on your proctoring session review results and the actual score you achieved on answers in your exam, you will also see changes to your credit eligibility status on your Progress page.

For more information about academic course credit, see Taking a Course for Academic Credit.