What Difficulties Will Students Face Due to Online Exams

Difficulties in Online Exams

The teaching-learning and evaluation system has been gradually changing over the past couple of years. The worldwide impact of the COVID 19 pandemic caused everything to be at a standstill, including the education system forcing schools and universities to shut down.

Hence, to avoid slagging of teaching and learning, most universities opted to continue their courses and examinations online. That is a practical step for the students since online exams offer desirable advantages like time efficiency.

Unfortunately, the online examination has also had enormous setbacks for the students.

Top Online Exam Problems

Online examinations came with their challenges like

Infrastructure Problems

One of the biggest hurdles of online examinations is learners’ poor access to technology like computers, tablets, smartphones, power supply, and stable internet.

Students In the rural areas tend to be highly affected by infrastructure problems resulting in unfairness in the education system.

You need at least a working laptop, an adequate power supply, and a steady internet connection. Your invigilators might also want you to go the extra mile to request a microphone, webcam, or other devices.

That poses a worrying question to those who lack both of the basic needs.

It may seem like a joke, but not all and sundry have access to a computer, even in the developed countries.

These results in a deep personal division in the education system worldwide, and of course, underprivileged students face it the rough way.

Because of this, they cannot achieve their full academic potential just because they cannot access a computer or stable internet.

Despite their capability, they have greater chances of falling due to beyond-measure circumstances.

Overly Aggressive Online Tests Proctoring

Most examiners believe that the only curb cheating in an online exam is by monitoring students’ movements through their skin.

Students complain that this action makes them feel uncomfortable and anxious, and most importantly, they believe it hinders them from delivering their best in their exams.

Moreover, they can also be asked to rotate their screens, show their desks, and even the entire room. Not being enough, they have remote access to the learner’s computer.

Most people will be highly uncomfortable with this kind of action. Learners feel like their privacy is being intruded upon, thus creating a toxic environment to sit for examinations.

Some learners panic, making them tense and, worse of all, forget whatever they read earlier.

Proctoring can be relaced by improving online tests platform to reduce the need for spying on students when doing their exams.

A comfortable and healthy environment for your examination is like half the problem solved.

Unreliable Exam Platform

Schools and universities should invest more money in online platforms. More so in their security system.

For a successful online test, organizers need to ensure that every learner involved can access the platform at ease and safely. Establishing a secure and private connection is a very important onset step.

However, most universities don’t take this seriously; endangering students results in unpleasant exam issues.

Complicating the online platform wastes a lot of time for the students du the exam. They will spend most of their time trying to understand the portal instead of doing the examinations, which are also timed. Thus, that is the beginning of their failure.

Moreover, some platforms are not user-friendly to the extent a student cannot submit the work.

Another common problem in online examinations is unexpected crashes due to slow internet. Slow internet does not allow the learning management system to connect to the server to save your work.

Security also lies in the software used to conduct tests, which usually comes from third parties.

Schools can create their exam software and use multifactor authentication to prevent unauthorized parties from accessing their systems rather than putting students and teachers at risk.

Not Everyone is Good at Typing

The shift of learning from face-to-face to virtual learning was just a drastic change. No one was alarmed earlier that computers would be the next vital device to be used, and you are obliged to know how to use them.

What do they mean by this?

It simply means that not everyone is privileged to know and understand how a computer works, for example, typing.

It is hard to believe that some people don’t know how to type, but the hard truth is that many students don’t learn.

That puts them in a disadvantaged position spending a massive bulk of the exam trying to type the words they want to say compared to their peers who can order more than 300 characters per minute.

Therefore, the exam will be biased since it will favor the other child who knows how to type faster. The other underprivileged will automatically fail not because they don’t know but because they don’t know how to use an unfair computer.

Students should be allowed to use speech-to-text software that recognizes what they are saying and automatically transforms it into text.

Online STEM Exams Can Be Tricky

Having a mathematics test in a classroom is different from having it in an online examination.

But if you are not lucky, you will be forced to draw formulas and diagrams on your computer, which will consume a lot of time than just writing them down.


Evaluation of exams is different in every university, but unfortunately, most online examinations lack this level of custom made evaluation.

Therefore, you will have to twist your existing guidelines to suit the computarised and ensure fair and square marking.

Even with customization, no online examination can copypaste the accuracy of physical evaluation, limiting universities and teachers from getting to know better their students.

Online examinations have eased the invigilator’s job because they are flexible; the setback comes in when questions require long answers.

When it comes to subjective exams, students need to type hundreds and hundreds of words .however; it should be taken with keen interest that not every student has a good typing speed.

So even though they know the answer, they might not be able to complete the paper on time.

Subjective answers require physical grading, to means invigilators need to invest additional time.

Therefore, grading in online examinations for long answer questions tends to be very difficult and won’t be the same for every student.

Susceptible to Cheating

Cheating is a significant challenge for the students that they end up finding some cleaver ways to upgrade.

However, online examinations can be especially vulnerable to cheating, like screen sharing with other exam doers doing online searches during the exam, or plugging an external drive with answers.

Aside from that, doing exams at different times means that a group of students will have access to the questions earlier than others.

Those doing earlier will share the questions with those yet to take the examinations; hence the results won’t be graded equally.

Students use other gadgets to find answers, smartphones and tablets.

In cases where proctoring is not used, students might hire individuals to do tests for them.

Transitioning to Open Book Exams

Usually, the format of online exams is perceived as an open book exam. Unlike a face-to-face exam setting, where exterior materials are not permitted in the exam room, there is no such supervision in the virtual exam.

Moreover, there is a lack of supervision in most online examinations, which jeopardises the credibility of these tests.

Therefore, it encourages students to carry authorized materials into the exam room, hence the open book.

Challenges in Technology Adoption

Implementation of a new system might take time for individuals to adapt.

Some learners might need more time familiarizing themselves with the app to avoid mistakes during exam time.

While others adapt to the changes as first as possible, those who need more time might be limited if not given adequate time to familiarise themselves.

Group Projects, Collaborative Evaluations, and Vocational Examinations

Not all examinations are simple questions and answers. Some courses require more research, group projects, or evaluation through a vocational exam that cant be taken online.

These examinations require a personal subjective evaluation that online cannot offer.

Therefore, it limits students who need to do research in groups.

Time Constraints

Most students are used to the physical exam format where they can have full access to all the questions and start answering questions they are confident in,, while the remaining time,, they try the questions that they are not sure of.

However, in the online exams juggling between questions might take a lot of time. Hence they end up missing several questions even though they know the answers.

That means a low passing average for universities even when the students are bright.


There are advantages and disadvantages to every type of examination system. Every institution should evaluate and analyse the different approaches to see which one will meet the specific needs of the learners.

Although it’s easier for institutions to stick to the traditional learning system, global events have forced the education industry to think twice about how they will operate.

Due to this, institutions have to find suitable measures to favor the disadvantaged students to avoid unfairness when conducting online exams since technology keeps improving,, and online courses and exams might stay with us.

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