Preparation for an Online Time-Limited Exam

Taking an online exam is a new experience for many students, but rest assured online exams are very similar to what you are used to​. Preparing adequately for your online exam is essential and will optimise your chances of success. Remember, even though taking online exams might feel easier and more relaxed as you are taking the exam at home, it is still an exam setting.

As with all exams, having an exam strategy is very important. You need to plan the time you have in the examination in accordance with the marks that can be awarded in order to optimise performance. If all sections carry equal marks, then split the time equally between the sections. In exams in which sections carry different marks, it can be helpful to create an exam time management plan.

Days leading up to the Exam

  • Check out the “Learning with Canvas Course” on Canvas, so that you are familiar with how to use Canvas (particularly for examinations)
  • Make sure that you have a well-working laptop/desktop computer and that your internet connection is reliable (remember: the Canvas Helpline is available 24/7 to you to answer any technical questions relating to Canvas)
  • Ensure you have access to/installed Microsoft Word on your pc/laptop. For full technical recommendations, please click here
  • Test the exam submission system in Canvas
  • For subjects that require non-text answers, e.g. photo of a completed Maths problem, hand-drawn graph or diagram, check with your lecturer how these will be captured and submitted
  • Set-up an appropriate examination workplace in your home/room: Ensure you have an adequate space set up for your online examinations, e.g. desk, chair, access to relevant books, notes, pens etc.
  • Ensure that other members of your household are aware of your online examination schedule and give you the space and peace in order to successfully complete your work
  • Alternatively, (noise-cancelling) headphones and some quiet music might work better for you to stay concentrated during the exams (try this out before the exam)
  • Know the guidelines! As with an in-class test, make sure you know the ​guidelines​ and the format​ of the test; it is important to know how long you have to complete the test!
  • Read through the Exam preparation PDF from the Skills Centre; many of the techniques described there can be adapted to fit online examinations
  • If you are registered with the Disability Support Service please ensure that your Module Coordinator is aware of the exam accommodations you require, that you have downloaded and tested any additional software you will be using for you online exams. Please contact the DSS at if you have any additional queries!

On the day of the Exam

  • Make sure you are well rested for the day of the exam and if you have a morning exam, get up with plenty of time to wake-up fully so that you are not feeling rushed
  • If you are allowed any additional materials like calculators, dictionaries, have them ready as well
  • Make sure to have some spare paper or a notepad and sufficient pens on your desk. Similar to a traditional exam, it might be helpful to take notes as you work on your exams or it might help you think through your answers
  • Have an actual clock, not your phone, in a spot you can easily see in order to keep track of how much time you have left to finish the exam
  • Have a bottle of water (or other hydrating drink) ready on your desk and make sure, to stay hydrated throughout the exam
  • And remember, you can use the bathroom whenever necessary!
  • Enable the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone (e.g. put your phone in flight mode); getting notifications from friends and family will only distract you during your exam and might cost you valuable time
  • Start the exam by reading through all the questions first before you start answering!
  • Don’t forget to submit! You should only need to submit once, but if it doesn’t work the first time, try one more time. If it doesn’t work after this, ​contact the supervisor immediately​!
  • Make sure that you are submitting in the format that is required, i.e. the appropriate answer booklet and the appropriate format e.g. Word Document
  • Remember the additional 20 minutes is to ensure that you can upload on time. Do not be tempted to use this time to continue typing. Do not leave uploading until the last minute!

Your exam will be submitted through Turnitin, therefore all normal procedures regarding plagiarism must be observed. Remember also that collusion – cooperating with other people during the exam - is a form of plagiarism.  Self-plagiarism – where you resubmit work previously marked – is also a form of plagiarism.  All forms of plagiarism is considered to be serious academic misconduct.  All suspected forms of plagiarism will be subject to procedures as laid out in the UCC Plagiarism Policy.

UCC Skills Centre Radio Show: All about exams

Episode Five: All about Exams

This week we are delighted to go through some exam preparation. We are thrilled to welcome Dr Eithne Hunt and Dr Edel Semple to the studio for their advice. Caroline Schroeter, Patricia O’Connor, Loretta Goff, and Kristina Decker welcome Kathy Bradley, Skills Centre Coordinator, back to discuss exam time and the Skills Centre Exam Bootcamp.


Useful videos from the 'Minute Methods' video series

This series is brought to you by the Skills Centre Avatars Joey, Millie, Steve and Eunice. The avatars have spent time with the Skills Centre tutors to create short snappy videos that will help you to develop good study habits and academic writing etiquette, all in just one minute.  

Exam related videos from the 'Gimme Two Minutes' series!

The Skills Centre 'Gimme Two Minutes' video series, available for viewing on YouTube, focuses on very basic concepts related to the academic writing and preparation skills, delivered by the University College Cork Skills Centre in a short and visual format. These videos can be used as self-learning tools and give you a taste of what sessions and workshops the Skills Centre offers to UCC students.