Exams in Online Courses

Exams in Courses with an Online Option

Many distance education courses have exams, which may be take-home, online, in-class, or proctored exams. Instructors will inform students of the format of course exams.

Online Exams

An online exam is a timed exam that is taken on a specific date and within a specific 24-hour period. Instructors may elect to administer exams online via Canvas, Proctorio, or a third -party testing tool. Students should refer to the syllabus or contact course staff members with any questions about online exams. Students enrolled in online courses are expected to have the necessary computer systems (hardware and software) and internet access to take exams online. Paper exams will not be administered in lieu of the online exam except for accommodations approved by the Accessibility Services office. 

Proctored Exams

Online courses may have on-campus classroom exams. Students unable to come to campus for exams can make arrangements to take their exam in absentia in a proctored setting, at an alternative location. The procedures for securing a qualified proctor are outlined below.

Finding a Qualified Proctor

Students are responsible for finding a qualified proctor to administer each exam. The proctor must be a teacher, professor, librarian, or administrator in a nearby secondary school, college, university, or testing center. Local libraries offering proctoring services are acceptable test sites; as well as tutoring and test preparation centers such as Sylvan Learning Centers, Huntington Learning Centers, and the Consortium of College Testing Centers. Proctors cannot be family members, friends, acquaintances, or co-workers.

For assistance finding a proctor, students can contact a guidance counselor, an academic advisor, the Dean of Students, or registrar’s office at a nearby college, university, or high school.

Proctors must have an institutional email address appear in the staff directory and must be able to provide proof of affiliation with the testing center. In addition, proctors must have reliable access to the internet, the ability to download and print PDF documents, and access to a fax machine or scanner (to return completed exam materials to the the Extension School). Proctors may charge fees for their services. Any fees incurred are the student’s responsibility.

Students must submit a proctor request via Online Services at least 5-7 days before each on-campus exam.

Submitting the Proctored Exam Request

Proctor exam requests are not accepted via phone or email. To submit proctor information, students should log-in to Online Services with their HarvardKey. Once logged in they should select “Distance Education,” then “Distance Education Exam Proctor Information.” Students will be directed to a page where they can submit proctor requests for individual exams. The 24-hour testing window for each exam will be listed. Students should be aware that submitting false and / or inaccurate proctor information may result in referral to the Administrative Board for review.

If an exam is not shown on the page, the instructor has not yet submitted test information. Check back again as the exam date gets closer or contact Academic Services at academicservices@extension.harvard.edu if the exam is less than a week away.

Students who do not submit a proctored exam request or submit it late may forfeit the opportunity to take the exam. These students are subject to their instructor’s make-up policies for midterm exams and Extension School make-up policies for final exams.

Students and proctors receive email confirmation upon receipt of proctor information. If confirmation is not received within 24 hours, students should send an email to distance_exams@extension.harvard.edu for assistance.

Proctored Exam Approval and Procedures

Proctored exam requests are reviewed about one week before the exam date. Once approved, students and proctors receive a second email with detailed instructions about exam policies and procedures. The exam materials will be available to proctors via a password-protected, secure website for the 24-hour testing window.

Getting Help

For more information, email Academic Services at academicservices@extension.harvard.edu.