Learn about the benefits of proctored exam support.

The proctored exam


A monitored exam completed in a secure environment. Proctored exams are used where instructors wish to protect academic integrity, prevent and deter cheating, protect the reputation of the institution, protect the value of the education, and provide a fair testing experience.

Benefits of proctored online exams

Benefits of proctored online exams

Instructors are choosing online exams over paper exams for many of the following reasons: 

  • Scalable. It takes the same amount of time to set up an exam for 1000 students as it does for 30 students.
  • Minimizes cheating. When using features like question banks and randomization, no two exams are the same.
  • Blocks ChatGPT. Deter access to ChatGPT and other AI browser plugins in order to prevents students from submitting work that is not their own. 
  • Worldwide reach. Students can test from almost anywhere around the globe, including their own homes.
  • Flexible. Exam windows can be flexible for students testing early in the morning or late at night.
  • Saves money. Valuable classroom space is freed up.
  • Instant results. Automatic grading allows you and your students immediate results.
  • Highly customizable. It is easier to adapt content for your students who need accommodations.

Types of exam support

Distance and Online Education's Exam Services offers two types of exam support which are based on delivery mode in MAUI. 


Sections with basic exam support will have exams targeted at individual students or small groups of students who need support beyond what the instructor can provide. That could be support for SDS accommodations like extended time or reduced distraction or it could be for make-up exams. Basic exam support is a no-frills approach. You will make a proctoring request for your student to test at an Iowa City test center. Upon submitting the proctoring request, the student can immediately schedule a time within your specified testing window. Any University of Iowa section, no matter the delivery mode, is eligible for this service. Add the Proctored Exams Portal to your ICON site to get started.


Sections with full exam support will have exams that every student enrolled in the section takes. In this type of course, you work closely with Distance and Online Education staff to select the appropriate type of proctoring, ensure that the test center/virtual proctor is available, the students are informed about exams, help is available when building exam content in ICON, problems during exams are resolved, and that you are provided with a review of student activity during the exam. You will still make a proctoring request in the portal for each exam, but you will set the exam audience to all students.

Once your section is set up for full exam support, this support will be made available to you in future semesters. Each semester your exam details from the previous like semester will be copied forward into your new ICON site and you will be notified via email. At that time, you can express whether you plan to continue to use full exam support. For those who wish to continue, we ask that you enter all course exam information into the Proctored Exam Portal prior to the start of the semester. We will accommodate late requests as best as we can, but timely communication from you is necessary, and you may need to adjust your expectations and schedule. 

If you continue with full exam support, you will find two new modules in your ICON site: Exams - Fall 2023 [Faculty Only] (please leave it unpublished and invisible to students) and Exams - Fall 2023 [For Students] (which is published for students).  The new modules include links to the faculty-facing and student-facing websites. The sites include exam information and materials regarding potential academic misconduct for both faculty and students. Please become familiar with the Honorlock for students page for specific instructions on how to handle problems that may arise during a virtually proctored exam.

The Exams - Fall 2023 [For Students] module also includes the Practice Exam. The Practice Exam provides guidelines for the use of Honorlock while at the same time checking the student’s computer for compatibility with the virtual proctoring platform. We encourage students to take the Practice Exam prior to each exam to check for updates to the Chrome browser and to Honorlock. 

For instructors who allow students to complete online exams either at the Iowa City Test Center or with the virtual proctor, Honorlock, there will be two versions of each exam. Exams completed at the test center are secured with Respondus Lockdown Browser. Exams completed elsewhere are monitored by Honorlock. Your gradebook will be configured so that only one version of the exam will count towards the student's grade. Please do not make changes to the "Assign To" field of either exam version unless you are re-opening the virtual proctor exam for a student. Changes to the "Assign To" field will result in student grades disappearing from the ICON gradebook.

Our staff will prep as many exams, from full exam support sections, as possible in the first weeks of the semester to make them ready for students to schedule and complete on the specified testing window. If your exam content is new or will be revised, exam content will be requested from you approximately three weeks before the exam start date. Providing us with the exam content in advance allows us to build exam questions in ICON and make any adjustments to that content as requested by you. Exam content that arrives early allows us to budget our time and assist as many instructors as possible.

*Some limitations apply. Full exam support is only available for sections with the online or hybrid delivery mode in MAUI. Sections with the in-person delivery mode are not typically eligible for full exam support; however there are some exceptions. Contact Laura Sinn to find out more.

Proctoring tools for online exams

Honorlock - virtual proctoring 

Honorlock uses artificial intelligence (AI) to proctor student exams on their personal computers. Honorlock is available by request for courses or sections with an online delivery mode in MAUI. Honorlock can only proctor ICON exams. You and your students must use Chrome as the primary browser and install the Honorlock extension for Chrome. Honorlock sets similar proctoring parameters as you would in the classroom. It also allows you to record the student while testing, provides you with lockdown options, flags suspicious behavior, and blocks access to ChatGPT and other similar AI (artificial intelligence) plugins/tools.

The Exam Integrity Review (provided by DOE) will give you information about student activity during the exam to help you make decisions about any academic integrity violations.

Visit this page for more information on Honorlock: https://teachonline.uiowa.edu/services/exams/honorlock-instructors

Respondus Lockdown Browser - test center proctoring  

Respondus Lockdown Browser is a browser that locks your students' computers into a single window of ICON. No other windows, tabs, or programs are accessible while using Lockdown Browser. This includes ChatGPT and other similar AI browser plugins/tools. It is available for any University of Iowa course. Lockdown Browser can only protect ICON quizzes or exams. Students taking online proctored exams at the test center will use this browser.

Visit this page for more details on Lockdown Browser: https://teach.uiowa.edu/respondus  

Reduce cheating in online quizzes

Artificial intelligence tools and cheating

Exam Services recommends that all online quizzes be protected with Respondus Lockdown Browser. It is a browser that locks your students' computers into a single window of ICON. No other windows, tabs, or programs are accessible while using Lockdown Browser. This includes the newest AI tools which use ChatGPT. Without using Respondus Lockdown Browser, students are able to allow those tools to read the online quiz and suggest answers.

Visit this page for more details on AI tools: https://teach.its.uiowa.edu/artificial-intelligence-tools-and-teaching

NOTE: Honorlock is only available to protect online exams not online quizzes.

Exam delivery options

You have options when it comes to exam delivery. Delivery options include:

  • allowing students to choose between the Iowa City test center or virtual proctor
  • allowing virtual proctor by permission only
  • proctoring at the Iowa City test center only
  • proctoring by virtual proctor only
  • allowing students to choose between the Iowa City test center or an alternate off-campus proctor

The option you choose will be based on your course's or section's online delivery mode in MAUI and whether your exam is completed online or on paper. Review the Proctored Exams Portal User Guide for more details about exam delivery.

More about proctored exams

  1. Use proctored exams to deter cheating.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the question types available in the ICON Quizzes tool and their limitations.
  3. Write clear directions that are easy to follow in a high-stress environment.
  4. Preview your work before you publish.
  5. Use a practice quiz or test to acquaint your students with online exams.
  6. Know and make ready the accommodations needed by students in your class.
  7. Communicate to your students who they should contact in the event of problem and your criteria for make-up exams.
  8. Ensure your students understand repercussions for academic misconduct. 
  9. Hide exam results when using manually graded questions. 
  10. Give general feedback to all students or set up individual meetings with students rather than releasing correct answers.

There is more to building an online exam in ICON than clicking the + Quiz button. Merging what is possible in the ICON Quizzes tool with the goal of your exam is the fundamental component of exam building.

Question Types 

There are many question types available in ICON Quizzes. You will need to manually grade some question types while others are automatically graded by ICON. For questions that are auto graded, be sure to provide ICON with the correct answer(s).  We encourage you to label your questions as you build them in ICON. These labels are not visible to students but will help you identify question content for future revisions.

Here are the question types that are auto graded:

Here are the question types that you must manually grade:

See samples of how students would answer each question type 

Exam Set-Up 

The ICON Quizzes tool offers four quiz types, however, only the Graded Quiz type should be used for exams. When adding your questions to a quiz or exam, we strongly encourage storing questions in Question Banks. Links to individual question banks can be added to a quiz or exam. Those links allow you to choose the number of questions to pull from the bank and the point value of each question pulled. This creates a randomized order; meaning each student sees the questions in a different order.

Additionally, the ICON Quizzes tool has customizable options. These options allow you to control student access and to modify the online experience. When using proctored online exams, certain options will be required to keep those exams secure. Links are provided below for the options which have specific uses. Otherwise, all quiz options are explained here.  

Required Options for Proctored Exams: 

  • Quiz title
  • Quiz instructions
  • Quiz Type
  • Time limits
  • Enable Honorlock (only if using full exam support)
  • Require an access code (if using Honorlock, this is provided automatically)
  • "Assign to"
  • "Available from" and "Until" dates

Optional Settings for Quizzes or Exams:

  • Assignment Group
  • Shuffle answers for auto-graded questions
  • Allow multiple attempts
  • Let students see their quiz responses
  • Let students see the correct answers
  • Show one question at a time
  • Filter IP Addresses
  • Due date

Honorlock Settings

Finally, Honorlock has its own customizable settings. Exam Services has developed Honorlock templates to help you identify the settings required for your exam type. Exam Services does not recommend deviating from the templates. This is for two reasons: (1) the settings interact in unexpected ways and (2) setting labels do not provide a complete picture of functionality. Contact doe-exams@uiowa.edu for more information about the templates.

Tips and Tricks for Building Online Exams

The Canvas community is an excellent resource for learning about what is possible within Canvas. Below are some pro tips that we have developed when working with quizzes and exams in Canvas.

  • Preview - Never preview a published exam. Not only is your preview considered an attempt at the quiz or exam, but it also prevents you from un-publishing the exam.
  • Adding images to an exam question - We recommend no more than about 500 pixels of width if detail is important. Scale your image from large to small; expanding a small image will make it become blurry. Save images as a PNG rather than a JPG file type. JPG images are typically compressed and can create a pixelated look if expanded.
  • Adding a formula sheet to an exam - If you have a formula sheet that should be used for the entirety of the exam, we recommend adding the formula sheet either to the exam instructions as a file (PDF) or as the first question in the exam.
  • Access to another platform - Students taking exams in Honorlock can access other programs, like Excel, or other platforms, e-textbooks during the proctored exam. It is not possible to allow this when using Respondus Lockdown Browser at the Iowa City test centers.
  • One minute per question - Students taking an exam made up of multiple choice, true-false, or matching questions should be given about a minute per question. For example, an exam with sixty questions should take students about sixty minutes to complete. 
  • Don't let students see correct answers - Releasing correct answers to an ICON exam means that students can see all questions with correct answers indicated. Unless you plan to revise exam content regularly, we don't recommend using this setting. For courses that rotate instructors each semester, it is imperative to not use this setting.
  • Revise - Revision of exam content is important to exam validity, especially as textbooks or new concepts come to light. Review your content often and update as needed.
  • Scratch paper - Consider whether students need scratch paper to complete an exam. It is possible for students working at home to use scratch paper to write down exam content and pass it on to others.
  • Chrome - Use Chrome as your primary browser when working in ICON. It is the recommended browser for best performance in ICON.
  • Add rubrics - It is possible to add a rubric to your exam. You can grade an all-essay exam efficiently in Speedgrader when using a rubric.

You may have students who struggle to complete a proctored online exam. 

Common scenarios include: 

  • Students with a lack of working equipment 
  • Students with a faulty internet connection 
  • Students on active military duty 
  • Students living overseas 

Students with a lack of working equipment or a faulty internet connection should plan to complete their exams at one of the Iowa City test centers. If those students live far from the Iowa City test centers, encourage them to borrow a computer from a friend or family member. You can also encourage the student to try taking the exam in a different location like a local library or a friend's house. If none of the above is possible, please contact Exam Services. 

Students on active military duty may be in a secure location. Taking a computer proctored exam that records student activity and location information may not be allowed. In these cases, Exam Services will help you create and send a paper copy of your proctored online exam. The paper exam can be proctored by a military officer and returned to you via email.

Students living overseas may be in a country where access to certain platforms on the internet is often blocked. This happens frequently in China where access to the virtual proctor, Honorlock is blocked. Those students will need to be proctored individually with Zoom. Contact Exam Services for more information. 

Finals Week is the week after classes are complete in Fall and Spring semesters. For Winter and Summer sessions, there are one or two days dedicated to final exams instead of one week. Check the Office of the Registrar's Academic Calendar for more details.

Instructors should know the final exam policies for their department. For example, instructors in CLAS can't schedule exams or quizzes during the week prior to Finals Week. Please schedule any final exams following the policies of your department.

Instructors of Distance and Online Education (DOE) courses have a unique relationship with the Office of the Registrar. You are not required to request a final exam date or location from the Registrar's Office. You may choose your own date(s) during Finals Week. There is no need to wait for an assigned final exam date or time. Because proctored exams in DOE courses are completed either at one of the Iowa City test centers or with the virtual proctor, Honorlock, a classroom assignment is not needed.

For most of campus, final exams are a maximum of two hours long and have a fixed start time. While examination periods are scheduled for a two-hour duration, the Office of the Registrar does not require instructors to use the full two-hour period. Students should be notified well in advance of the exam if the exam period will be shortened. 

DOE instructors can offer more flexibility. You are encouraged to use a two-day window for final exams and no less than a 24 hour window. With an extended exam window, students can easily find a seat at a test center. Our test centers are typically open 9 AM - 9 PM. Students who work full-time or have small children may find the longer exam window suits their schedule. An extended exam window should also reduce the number of make-up exam requests during Finals Week. 

New Quizzes is the tool that will eventually replace the current Quizzes functionality in ICON. Visit the New Quizzes Hub to find out what schools across the country are saying about the new tool. 

Using New Quizzes at Iowa

NOTE: ITS does not recommend switching until more features, such as bulk migration, are available.

DOE Exams

For questions about exam support,
call 319-384-4800 or email doe-exams@uiowa.edu.