Skip to main content

Tips for Conducting Exams Remotely

When scheduling your remote exam, pick a platform that works best for you. There are several options and help resources listed on the Technology Services website. Zoom works particularly well for conducting exams and deliberations, and several of the best practices below are specific to Zoom. These are tips meant to be adapted to the particular structure of a student’s exam.

Setting Up the Exam

  • In configuring the Zoom meeting, consider using the following settings:
    • Make sure the committee chair is the “Host” or “Alternative Host.” This will allow them to mute/unmute committee members and manage breakout rooms.
    • The student should be able to share their screen if they will be presenting slides. Having “Host” or “Alternate Host” status will usually allow them to screen share.
    • On the settings page, select “mute participants upon entry.” This allows anyone joining the meeting to be automatically muted. The hosts can unmute the committee members.
    • Enable “breakout rooms” for committee deliberations.
  • Preliminary examinations are only attended by the student and the committee. When possible the broader campus community should be invited to attend the presentation portion of final examinations.
  • Once the meeting is scheduled, the student and committee members will receive a link to the event.
  • For final exams where guests will be invited, require a meeting password so that unknown people don’t join the meeting and cause disruptions. When advertising the defense, interested attendees can be directed to contact the department for information about how to join. You can learn more about security settings in Zoom on the Technology Services website.


  • Try to login to the meeting at least 15 minutes before the exam starts so that any issues can be resolved before the exam.
  • Students and committee members should make sure they are using a reliable computer with a working camera and microphone. Using headphones might improve the sound quality.
  • Students should test the screen sharing in advance if they will be using it during their exam.
  • Students and committee members should test their internet connection. If there are others in the house, encourage them to avoid using technology that requires high bandwidth (such as streaming shows, video calls, games, etc.). It might also help to set up the computer near the wireless router.
  • In the event of technical difficulties, share the process of joining the exam via phone with committee members. You can find more information about this process on the Zoom help pages.

During the Exam

  • Encourage committee members to communicate with the committee chair and/or student through email, chat, or text if there are any technology issues.
  • The student and committee members should keep their microphone on mute unless they are speaking. Please also mute if you are typing to reduce background noise.
  • Observers should keep their microphone muted at all times. Observers should join without video to reduce visual distractions. Do not send chat messages during the presentation as they might also distract the student.

The Deliberation

  • There are a few ways that committees could conduct private deliberations following the student’s exam. The chair should notify the student of the plan prior to the exam. Some options include:
    • A breakout room in Zoom can provide a confidential space for the committee to deliberate. The host of the meeting can move the committee into a breakout room for their deliberations. The committee can rejoin the main meeting room after deliberations are complete. You can learn more about breakout rooms on the Zoom help pages. Note: if the student is the host of the meeting, the chair will need to notify them when the deliberation is over so the committee can rejoin the main room.
    • The chair can schedule or start a separate video meeting for the deliberations. The committee can rejoin the original meeting or call the student via phone to notify them of the result.