Best Practices for Taking Online Tests (Students)

Best Practices for Taking Online Tests

Taking a quiz or exam in a Canvas course can be a big deal and you want to do everything in your power to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. Follow these steps and tips to help ensure a successful testing experience.

If anything is unclear or confusing, please contact Canvas Support – Canvas offers 24/7 support options listed in the ? Help icon on the Global Navigation to the far left or call the Canvas Support Line (which includes how-to assistance) call 515-294-4000 then follow the prompts.

Before you start your quiz

  1. Plan. Do not wait until the very last minute to complete your quizzes. Clear your schedule for the allotted time for taking the quiz
  2. Decide. How will you complete the online test or quiz?
    1. If you use your computer, ensure that you have an updated and supported browser capable of handling Canvas. Use a Canvas supported browser and make any necessary browser updates.
    2. If you are taking your test in an ISU Online Testing Center, review the pertinent information on the Online Testing Center website.
  3. Verify. Make sure that you have a reliable internet connection. A wired or broadband wireless connection is best for high-stakes assessments, especially if you have unreliable data and Internet service. If you are using a low bandwidth connection, make sure you won’t be interrupted by a dropped connection.
  4. Prepare. Close all software and applications before starting the quiz. Avoid beginning any software updates at any point while taking a quiz.
    1. Restart the browser you will use to take a quiz (it is also a good practice to clear your browser’s cache) and log into Canvas without opening any other tabs and windows or logging into other sites. 
    2. Follow the guides available on the Refresh your cache website. These practices will help you identify what happened to your quiz as it helps Canvas capture the details of your session.
    3. Allow pop-ups for the browser you will use for taking the quiz. The ISU Canvas web address is
  5. Practice. If your instructor provided a self-test or practice test, take it! The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become with your graded quiz!

While you take your quiz

  1. Check. Be aware of how your mouse works: double-clicking on Canvas’s links can interfere with your quiz experience. When you use the wheel on your mouse, be careful not to change your answers on your quiz.
  2. Review. Look at your answers to see if they are the right ones you selected before you hit submit or finish. You can inadvertently change your answers before submitting them. These are the two ways that can make this happen:
    1. Scroll clicking. The clickable area of an answer is the entire answer itself—not just the radio button. If you are a compulsive clicker who happens to click each time you scroll, as if to stabilize the page, you may inadvertently change your answers without noticing it.
    2. If you use the arrow keys to navigate, make sure to see if that changes your answers. Do not use the back, forward, delete or refresh keys on your keyboard when taking a test. This action might result in a warning that your quiz is not submitted. The quiz may also kick you out.
  3. Timing. It is best to complete your quiz in one sitting. If it’s a timed quiz, the timer begins running as soon as you open the quiz. You will receive a visual clue as your time is running out. Although you can leave the quiz and return to it, the timer will continue running. Note: If you navigate away from an unfinished timed quiz, the timer will continue running, and the quiz will auto-submit when time runs out. Read the How do I resume a quiz that I already started taking? guide.

After you take your quiz

Sometimes your quiz grade is hidden, which means your instructor will not release feedback until grading the last quiz submission.

  1. If your instructor chooses to release the quiz score, read How do I view quiz results as a student?
    1. Tip: If the instructor provided quiz feedback, make sure you aren’t misinterpreting your quiz results. Arrows point to your answers, while the bold text refers to the correct answers.
  2. The Grades page in a course displays all current grades for all course assignments. You can also view scoring details, comments, and rubrics. To learn how to use Grades in Canvas, view the How do I view my grades in a current course? web guide.
    •  Tip: Some details on the Grades page, such as scoring details and the total grade, may be restricted in your course. If you have questions about your course, contact your instructor.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the legend for the Grades area in Canvas and know what each icon means if you see it in the column associated with a quiz. View the How do I use the icons and colors on the Grades page? web guide.