Setting up practice digital exams

We strongly recommend that you conduct a practice LMS exam with your students prior to the exam period to familiarise students with the process. Find out the reasons why and things to consider.

If you have digital exams in your subjects, you will have selected the exam technology you will use to deliver the exams. Following this, it is important to schedule a practice exam for students using your chosen exam technology. You may also choose to make use of your chosen exam type for one of the formative or summative assessments throughout the semester to allow students to become more familiar with it. Exam 'practice runs' need only be short, but they should include all the question types and steps that students will be expected to complete in the live exam.

Why practice exams?

The research regarding online assessment highlights the importance of providing students at least one practice opportunity using the online exams technology that they will use for their end of semester exams. It is important that students get this experience prior to a high-stakes online exam so that they can approach the online exam with increased confidence, and without the extra cognitive load of having to navigate an unfamiliar technology. Practising with the technology before the exam also helps students plan their time during the exam as they gain experience with the upload process, and how long it takes to upload their exam for the specific technology.

These 'practice runs' also have the potential to:

  • Help to alleviate students’ concerns about the exam format and technology
  • Decrease the number of special consideration requests, as students will be better prepared for the real exam conditions
  • Provide a 'practice run' for the academic department, in the set up and marking; with time to make changes before the real exam takes place, if necessary.

Digital in-place exams

Students sitting digital in-place exams not only need to be familiar with the technology they will be undertaking the exam in, but they are also required to install and use a LockDown Browser when sitting the exam. Having a practice exam ensures they understand how LockDown Browser is used and students arrive at the end of semester exam with it already installed.

Different versions of Lockdown Browser are required for a LMS Classic Quiz exam and a Cadmus exam.

If students are completing a Canvas Classic Quiz they will need to download the Canvas Classic Quiz version of LockDown browser.

Download and install LockDown Browser Canvas Classic Quiz

If students are completing a Cadmus exam they will need to download the LockDown Brower OEM (Cadmus version).

Download and install LockDown Browser OEM Cadmus

Students also have the option to take a practice quiz or Cadmus exam in their appropriate LockDown Browser in LMS Communities set up for the purpose.

Taking a practice quiz to check installation of LockDown Browser

  1. Get the students to self-enrol in the LockDown (Canvas Classic Quiz) test LMS Community.
  2. Once enrolled, they can then take a practice LMS quiz by:
    1. Launching LockDown Browser.
    2. Navigating to the subject LockDown Browser (Canvas Classic Quiz) test.
    3. Completing the practice quiz.

Taking a practice Cadmus exam to check LockDown Browser install

  1. Get the students to self-enrol in the LockDown (Cadmus) test LMS Community.
  2. Once enrolled, they can then take a practice Cadmus exam by:
    1. Opening the Cadmus assignment in the LMS Community.
    2. In Cadmus, launching LockDown Browser.
    3. Completing the practice Cadmus exam.

Open book exams

Open book exams may also be new to students where questions are different from what would be set for a closed book exam. Students can benefit from practise with open book exams to become familiar with the type of questions they are likely to be asked. It is important that the practice exam offers similar questions to those that students will face in the online exam.

How to use practice exams in your subject

  • Run a practice exam before SWOT vac
  • Provide similar questions to those that will appear on the final exam (though lesser in number is fine)
  • Provide questions that require a similar amount of time to those that will appear on the final exam to give students an authentic example of what they will experience in the exam
  • Ensure the technical set up of your practice exam matches the set up that students will experience in the online exam.

Read more about digital exam options.

Read more about exams information for staff.

For advice on writing questions for open book exams, read these assessment considerations in moving from closed book to open book exams.

This guide was last updated 21 Sep 2023.
Please report any errors or omissions in this guide by submitting an LMS support request.