Online Exams For University Students: A Student’s Perspective

When I was asked to write this post, I was rather pleased actually. Since it isn’t often I get to do a blog on purely my own experience, and I really want to stress to all of you university students that online exams aren’t evil, more difficult than in-person exams nor something to be scared of. So by the end of this post, you should start feeling more confident about online exams and I’ll share with you my own experience with them.

Of course everything in this post is just my own opinions and experiences, and things might be different for you. But this post is filled with great concepts and ideas that you can draw on.

What Did I Think of Online Exams Before I Took Them?

I won’t lie to you, when I first learnt that I was going to be doing my exams online for the foreseeable future in April 2020, I was concerned. I didn’t know how they were going to work, if they would be fair and if I would do terrible at them.

I’m hardly the only person to feel like this, so if you’re concerned about them. You aren’t alone but you don’t need to feel like this for a few different reasons. Some of which I’ll discuss now.

If you’re in your first year at university and you have online exams, in my experience you have it the easiest like I did. Since our first university exams are almost always multiple choice questions and we simply need to choose the right answer.

If these are your exams then you really don’t have anything to worry about, because the online exam is identical to the real in-person exam. You simply click on the correct answer.

Personally, I was really glad to have my first year exams online, because they were easy to do and I managed to get them done very quickly. Of course, NEVER rush exams and always check over your answers, but the nice thing about online exams is once you’ve done them. You can go.

And considering I had a forensic psychology exam on my birthday, I didn’t want to do an exam for any longer than I had to.

However, I’m sure some of you are wondering about more multidimensional exams for second and third year students.

How Did I feel About my Second Year Exams Being Online?

This is where the student perspective comes in, because I would never say this section in public or in front of lecturers.

I was extremely pleased with my second year exams being online, because I am not the best academic writer. Give me a nonfiction or fiction book, a short story or a blog post, and I can write that easily enough. But give me an essay to write and I flaunter massively.

Thanks to the great people at my placement, I don’t think that will be as much of the case next year, but during my second year I was very bad at academic writing. I knew the information like the back of my hands, but according to the university professors, I couldn’t phrase the information in an academic manner to their liking.

Now I made that clear because I want other people who struggle with academic writing to know that things can improve (If you try to improve).

Anyway, online exams are great for people like me because of one very special reason.

That is the university knows people will cheat and some modules try to remedy the situation. It goes without saying but don’t cheat in your exams, that will only hurt you in the long run. But most of my essay writing exams during my second year were changed from closed book to open book exams, meaning I could have textbooks and notes around me.

Now this is flat out ideal because my problem with university exams is each lecture can be broken down into tens of little subareas, each of which could be an essay question. Therefore, I find the idea of revising for essays to be extremely daunting and I have no idea how I will manage in my third year.

However, with online exams tending to be open book that solves that problem. Online exams in my experience allow you to have your textbooks and notes around you.

Personally I think that was a lifesaver during my second year, and this is what I mean when I say online exams aren’t scary or evil things. If you understand how to approach them, they can actually be extremely positive things.

Still I need to add, always check your exams because some of them might still be closed book, and of course don’t cheat. Cheating is never good and it will seriously harm you in the long term, and you really don’t want to be kicked out of university for something as silly as cheating in an exam.


Looking back at my online exam experience, I won’t lie- it was great. It was great to have slightly different exams that positively affected me. I know lots of people do find academic writing difficult even if they know the information, since universities just expect you to know how to write academically.

But that’s a different blog post.

So I want to finish up by saying that online exams… they aren’t scary, concerning or something you need to get anxious about. Exams are important for sure, but online exams can be great things if you know how to approach them.

Never see anything at university as a chore or evil because that will only lead to you feeling sad, down and like university isn’t fun. And you should never feel like that. So please, look at online exams as something interesting to experience and maybe even a slightly better alternative to the traditional in-person exams we all grew up doing.

Connor Whiteley
Connor Whiteley

Psychology Student, Author, Podcaster