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Best practices - remote examinations
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The most significant challenges with exams delivered remotely are the need to deliver asynchronous exams to accommodate students in different time zones, and the issue of cheating.

There is no fool-proof solution to the challenge of cheating on online exams. The most effective solution is probably to deploy other forms of assessment that are less susceptible to cheating: oral exams, papers, group projects, poster sessions, discussion boards, etc. If exams must be administered, there are ways to discourage, if not eliminate, cheating and to mitigate its effects on other students.

Do not use unapproved proctoring products, or Zoom proctoring, for Spring 2020 exams

The campus is working to secure a browser lockdown product that locks the browser into a single screen, disabling copy/paste functionality, during an exam. The use of other proctoring products, and Zoom proctoring, are not permitted for the spring 2020 semester. Details on this executive order are available via the calmessages archive.

You may use Zoom so that you or your GSIs may be available for questions during an exam. This is administration of the exam, not proctoring. So long as video is not required, and the zoom availability is set up in such a way that no student's DSP accommodations are transparent to other students in the exam, this would not be in violation.

Conducting an oral examination via Zoom runs into many of the same problems that Zoom proctoring does. For that reason, oral examinations should be conducted by telephone.

Do not curve exams

Students who cheat may still get their A’s, but in the absence of a curve, their “success” will not reduce the chances for other students to get A’s as well. If you have serious concerns regarding remote evaluation and academic dishonesty, we strongly encourage you to avoid grading on a curve this semester.


Make all exams open-book

Students who consult notes and books will not gain an unfair advantage over students who adhere to closed-book rules.


Schedule multiple, short, low-stakes tests, rather than one or two lengthy, high-stakes exams

This approach is shown to be superior for promoting learning. In addition, students may be less tempted to seek an unfair advantage if the stakes of the exam are relatively low, and find it less convenient to seek an unfair advantage if the exams are relatively brief.


Schedule exams at a specific time (unless that would negatively impact students in your course)

This tack would reduce the opportunity for early testers to tell their friends what questions are on the exam. In many classes, especially smaller ones, all of the students may be within a few time zones of California, making a fixed-time exam feasible. In courses with Berkeley students spread all over the world, it could force students in far-away countries to take exams in the middle of the night, which would be patently unfair.

Another solution might be to offer multiple different versions of the exam at different times, presumably creating a reasonable exam time for every student. The downside, obviously, is that instructors and GSIs would have to write multiple exams.


Look into the options bCourses has for Quizzes and Assignments


Institute an honor code

Students write something on their exams along the lines of: “I swear on their honor that I have neither given nor received aid on this exam.”

There are generally stiff penalties for violating the honor code (failure of exam, maybe even suspension). Princeton ( and Stanford ( both have this kind of honor code and do not proctor exams, and cheating does not appear to be rampant on their campuses.


For more resources, please see the UC Berkeley Remote Testing Quick Guide and UC Berkeley Extended Time, Multiple Attempts, and Assignment Accommodations in bCourses Quick Guide

Thanks to Jonah Levy for their work on these best practices.