The Pros and Cons of Online Exams – OurWarwick

The Pros and Cons of Online Exams

In a recent post I wrote about preparation and procedure for online exams but I decided I have more to say on the topic and to approach it from more of an opinion based angle this time. There are, of course, some major differences when doing exams online but these aren’t necessarily bad things.

As with most things, some of these changes may actually be for the better. I think it is easy to lose that perspective when it feels like everything is changing to work against you but hopefully this might highlight a few cases where the online setting could work to your advantage.


The Positives

This might sound odd but I like that when I’m doing an exam in my own space I can talk things through. I can say my thoughts out loud to see if they still make sense outside of my head before I write them down. I can even shout at a question if it’s annoying me (and yes, I do find this helps and have greatly enjoyed this particular freedom).

I always feel a sense of trepidation on entering an exam hall. There’s always this nagging feeling at the back of my mind that I must have forgotten something essential for the exam or often I think of completely unnecessary things that perhaps I should have brought with me just in case! In my own work space though, that fear is reduced as I can run off to get something if I realise I have forgotten it. I can spend more of the time, pre-exam getting into the correct headspace rather than panicking about unnecessary things.

Also, there’s no fear of the bus being delayed and making me late for the exam and this is one of the biggest reliefs. The short commute from the living room to my desk is never blocked by traffic or accidents so I can head off to my room ready to work, safe in the knowledge that I’m prepared and won’t miss the start!

And at my desk, I can have everything laid out just as I like it before the exam begins. In physics that means I’ve got my pens, pencils, calculator, ruler and protractor (though I expect I’ll never actually use the last two) all neatly laid out and waiting for me. There’s no waiting for more paper midway through an exam because I’ll have hundreds of sheets before me.

I can even have a drink or snack on the desk with me if I want it. I don’t use this freedom particularly as I like to keep my space as uncluttered as possible, just like in a real exam. Still, I like the option being there.

The Not So Positives(but not necessarily negatives)

Although I have just said how nervous I feel in the exam hall, this is where I am conditioned to work. I know when I go in that I’m there to get the job done as best I can and I do miss that in some ways. That being said, I can take steps before hand to keep my workspace free from distractions and as much like an exam hall as possible anyway.

Online, I still have access to the questions and my answers after the exam and there is a hideous temptation to look back at them and dig through to find my mistakes. I miss being able to leave the hall and be free of that particular module until the results come in but I suppose that if there was a problem with my exam technique it could be good to look back at my past papers before the next one comes along.

There is always the fear (and especially now that we all have to access the paper at the same time) that the website will crash or my internet will go down at the most inconvenient time. It hasn’t happened yet but I still worry and try to calm myself by repeating that the university would be understanding if it were to happen and I’m sure they are prepared for it.


Most of all, through all the good and the bad of online exams I’m carried through by the confidence that we are all going through the same struggles. Many people will share my fears which eases them a little but I’m still trying to focus on all of the positives that come from working online instead of my fears. So I guess I’ll just keep working hard and hope that it shows in my exam results, online or not.

Best of luck to everyone in the same position!


Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

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