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Exam Security

If you have decided to use exams in your Distance and Online Education (DOE) course, the next step is to consider whether the exams should be proctored or non-proctored. The right choice will depend upon a number of factors unique to your course. Whether you decide to use proctored or non-proctored exams, there are a number of steps you can take to prevent testing incidents. Feel free to contact us to discuss any of these exam security measures. 

Exam security is very important to the Exam Services team. If you suspect that there has been a breach in the security of your exam, don’t hesitate to contact Exam Services at

Non-proctored exams and quizzes are unsupervised. These exams are generally online ICON assessments taken at students' homes.

Proctored exams are completed under supervision. These exams are generally completed online via ICON. Students can test at home using Procotrio or test at a DOE test center. Instructors can make arrangements for paper-based exams.

Benefits of Non-Proctored Exams

  • Easier to administer than proctored exams
    • No need to make arrangements for proctoring
  • Convenient for students
    • No scheduling at test centers

Benefits of Proctored Exams

  • Students cannot use unauthorized materials
  • Students cannot access Internet resources (i.e. Google)
  • Students cannot collaborate
  • Verification of Students' Identities
  • Exam questions remain more secure


  • Exams can have a specific and limited duration.
  • Exams can be made available only within a specific date and time range.
  • Exams can be given a password.
  • Exams can be restricted to specific student or group of students.
  • Exams can display only one question at a time.
  • Exams with the above feature can also lock each question after it is answered. This prevents backwards movement during the exam.
  • Exams can be displayed only inside Respondus Lockdown Browser.
  • This browser locks out all other applications on the computer and only allows ICON access. This browser must be downloaded before starting the exam.
  • Exams can display questions in random order.
  • Exams can display the answers to questions, for example multiple choice questions, in random order.
  • Exams can randomly choose questions to display from a large bank or pool of available questions.
  • Exams can be set to allow only one attempt.
  • Exams can be set to display feedback only once after each attempt or only during a specific date/time range.
  • Exams can include a wide variety of question types: multiple choice, true-false, essay, short answer, matching, numerical, dropdown, formula questions, file upload questions, audio and video feed.
  • Students must present valid ID to begin exam.
  • Students cannot use unauthorized materials without detection.
  • Students do not have unmonitored access to exam questions.
  • Students must use a lockdown browser to open online exams in ICON.
  • Exam duration is controlled in ICON; students cannot exceed maximum time allowed.
  • Video footage is available for instructor review.
    • Proctorio recordings are provided in ICON
    • DOE Test Centers are equipped with security cameras
  • Support is available for students who may experience technical difficulties.
  • Keep the duration of the exam reasonable. Students spend about one minute per question and about the same reading direction lines.
  • Limit the days the exam is available. The more days that students have to complete an exam increases the likelihood of sharing information.
  • Create a large bank/pool of questions and pull questions randomly from it. This increases the probability that every student is getting a slightly different exam.
  • Divide your exam into topics assessed. Create pools of questions for each of those topics. Pull only a few questions from each of those topics. Each student’s exam will cover the same topics but each student will answer slightly different questions.
  • Randomize the order of your questions on the screen and/or the answers to the questions. Randomization prevents wandering eyes from getting information from another tester.
  • Vary the question type. Use subjective and objective question types to decrease the amount of “guessing” that happens on exams. Consider your learning objectives when writing assessments. Think about the best method to demonstrate competency.
  • Change your exam questions frequently. Students do remember questions on the exam after they submit the exam. Prevent unwanted sharing from semester to semester by updating questions.

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