7 tips for Online Proctoring of STEM Exams

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses offer unique challenges when it comes to online assessments: equations can be difficult to replicate in a virtual environment and often exams are high-stakes tests. How do you ensure that you are successfully administering online, paper-based STEM exams that maintain academic integrity? We recently sat down with Kate Beverage, Director of Technology in Teaching and Learning Services at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and discussed best practices for delivering online proctored paper-based STEM exams with Honorlock. She provided her top seven tips for proctoring STEM exams and STEM classes online:

1. Remind instructors to include specific instructions for Honorlock proctors when they enable their exams.

Honorlock student guidelines

When administering online exams, encourage your faculty to include notes specifying if it is a paper-based assessment where the student may divert their eyes down as they work to solve a problem. By including specific instructions, live proctors are made aware and don’t necessarily have to pop-in and interrupt the student. Prepare an instruction template the instructors can use that can easily be customized on their end if needed. Review Honorlock’s recommended Standard Exam Guidelines for more information.

2. Prepare a list for faculty of the recommended settings for your LMS and Honorlock.

Honorlock Proctoring Settings

Put together a recommended settings list for your LMS that points to Honorlock’s resources that describe the settings in greater detail. It removes any confusion and ensures the proctoring tool is used to its fullest capacity. Partner with your Customer Success Manager if you are unsure of what settings make the most sense for you and your institution.

3. Designate a department exam champion.

Select an instructor who will be fully trained and fluent in using Honorlock remote proctoring in addition to having direct access to the CSM in order to quickly help faculty with questions above and beyond the typical use of Honorlock, which can be handled by Honorlock Support. This is particularly useful for a school-wide implementation of the platform where managing proctoring and responding to best practice inquiries can prove challenging. These champions can offer recommendations in terms of test design.

4. Develop an exam question pool to deter cheating.

Work with your assessment design team to create question pools. By having a greater pool, you increase your exam security. Make it a point to review and update your exam pools each semester the course is offered to reduce question sharing among students. WPI recommends taking advantage of Honorlock’s Search and Destroy feature to ensure that copies of your questions are removed from test aid sites.

5. Offer reasonable exam time limits and availability.

Give students a reasonable time to submit their paper-based work that pertains to the exam. Allow extra time for students to properly complete this step. WPI recommends not releasing answers or test scores until all students have completed the exam to reduce the possibility of sharing insight into the exam among each other.

6. Partner with instructional designers when designing exams to mitigate cheating.

Navigating the art of exam writing can be a challenge. Ensure that your faculty taps into their instructional design team to optimize their online assessments. Discuss with your instructional designer the possibility of using images on your tests or displaying one question on the screen at a time for high stakes exams.

7. Have students take the Honorlock practice exam.

Doing the practice exam takes a lot of pressure off for students. It removes the mystery of an online proctored exam before the actual exam.  You don’t want to add extra stress or pressure on students when they’re already trying to learn the content.

These seven tips will guide you in successfully administering virtual assessments for your institution’s STEM classes online in the fall semester and beyond. Do you want to learn more about how Honorlock can proctor your paper-based online exams? Click here to speak with one of our representatives and get a product demo.  

 Learn more about Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s experience using Honorlock for STEM exams in their recent testimonial

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How to Detect Cheating On Online Exams

With every technological advance, some students find new and creative ways to cheat. Especially in online classes, where new technology makes it easier than ever. School administrators are aware of the challenge, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed trying to keep up with deterring cheating and promoting academic integrity. How can you stop students from cheating? What tools can help you and your faculty find solutions to identify and prevent dishonesty that is just as creative as your students’ attempts to cheat?  

Why Do Students Cheat?

Before you can decide which tools will help you prevent cheating, you need to get to the heart of the matter. Why do students try it in the first place? What motivates them, and how can you address those issues to help keep them honest while promoting academic integrity?

The Need for Good Grades

The impetus for academic dishonesty is most often the need to pass a class, maintain a GPA, or complete a degree. This pressure is amplified when final grades are comprised of the results of just a few high-stakes exams. When online courses follow this format, it becomes even easier for students to cave into the pressure. So, what can you do? For starters, create a framework that uses more low-stakes exams, quizzes, and discussion boards throughout the semester to take away some of the weight. This gives students a chance to better target their studying, and they end up feeling like their efforts pay off.

Rationalizing Away the Guilt

Of course, to be able to cheat, students also need a rationale. In online classes, this often comes down to a sense that they’re unlikely to be caught. Or, perhaps, they think that everyone else is doing it. When it seems easy and worth trying, they do. To help students think more carefully about decisions to cheat, you can make sure they’re aware of your policies. Make sure they know the rules as well as what the consequences will be. When the threat of discipline is clearly understood, students will think twice before they opt to cheat.

It Comes Down to Opportunity

In online courses, the need and rationalization for cheating are pretty similar to what a student might feel in a face-to-face class. The most significant difference in online contexts—and the one that’s most difficult to mitigate—is opportunity. The good news? The right policies and technology go a long way toward protecting test integrity. 

The Pitfalls of Online Exams

Why are online courses more vulnerable? For starters, you can’t supervise students directly. It can be far more challenging to monitor their behavior and restrict what resources they can access. For another, because testing can be staggered and doesn’t all take place at a specific time, it’s easier for students to grab and share test information with classmates. But what can you do about it?

Best Practices to Detect & Prevent Cheating

These are some of our instructors’ favorite tips and tricks to help you protect test content and make sure assessments are actually tracking student learning (and not just cheating skills). 

Test Banks – Step one to prevent students from successfully copying and sharing exam content is to make sure each exam is a little different. By creating a bank of test questions (especially similar questions with slightly different answers), you can throw a wrench in plans to cheat and keep everyone honest.

One Question at a Time – Nothing invites a student to share test content quite like having the whole exam displayed all at once. By only displaying one question at a time, you make sure they can’t grab a screenshot of the entire exam in one fell swoop. Cheating becomes more difficult (and more annoying).

Time Limits – Ultimately, even when a student is motivated to cheat, most of them are focused first on their own success and secondarily on sharing exam content. This is where time limits come in handy—by putting a tight rein on time, you don’t give them the leeway to grab and share information, and you help them prioritize their own grades over dishonesty.

Restricting Information Access – To successfully provide online assessments, you need a proctoring solution that allows you to keep students from searching the web or opening other applications while still providing access to the content they need to complete the test.

Feedback – If you provide students with immediate feedback on multiple-choice questions, you’ll want to ensure that you don’t reprint the test questions and answers. Instead, create feedback that responds to the general ideas and lets students know where they can learn more about missed concepts without sharing specific details. This makes it just a bit harder for students to remember, grab, and share content with peers.

Tools of the Trade

Best practices are an essential place to start, but ultimately you need to back up your efforts with reliable tools and technology for success in online courses. Of course, when it comes to online proctors, there can be an overwhelming number of features and factors to consider. Which should you prioritize? 

Here are a few of our favorites:

Growing Online Programs Through Secure Technology

Ultimately, protecting and promoting academic integrity is the first step toward growing your online programs. You want faculty, students, and their future employers to have confidence that your assessments are an accurate measurement of learning and academic outcomes.

Sign up below for more tips, best practices, and what to avoid to improve your online exams

Recording — One of the first questions to consider is how you’ll monitor students’ behavior during exams. You’ll want to think about integrating video (so you can see if they’re trying to access notes or other resources), audio (so you can tell if they’re talking to someone else in the room), and screen activity (so you can see if they try to access other websites or attempt to copy and paste questions into a document). And, of course, it’s great to use a system that has the student scan the room with their webcam before beginning so the proctor can detect any illicit materials.

Authentication — You want to make sure that the student who’s taking the exam is who they say they are. Proctoring systems that capture a photo of both the student and their ID can help you make sure that students are only getting credit for the work they do themselves.

In-test Protections — Don’t forget all the features that secure your content during the test. For starters, we recommend finding a solution that disables copying, pasting, and printing. You’ll also want to prevent multiple monitors and use a system that blocks access to new browser windows or applications.

Proprietary TechnologyHonorlock can detect cell phones and other devices, like tablets and smart watches, that are used to look up information during an online exam. Search and destroy scans the web for copies of exam questions and files takedown notices so it’s more difficult for students to find illicit copies.

Want to see Honorlock in action? Schedule a demo.

WEBINAR: Surviving Remote Teaching: Top 5 Things You Need to Know

Until now, the idea that nearly every class in HigherEd would be taught online seemed improbable. In just a few weeks, that idea became a reality as almost every college and university moved face-to-face classes to “remote instruction” in response to the ongoing health crisis. The initial approach was to “make it work” –– to keep the flow of the learning already taking place so that students could complete their courses despite the disruption. But as we all transition into an uncertain Fall, we can now start applying the proven fundamentals of quality online instruction and remote teaching strategies to our emergency response efforts. In this session, we will explore some fundamentals of online learning and explore some of the lessons learned in the recent rapid move to remote instruction to help foster successful online learning.

After this session, you will be able to:

1. Recall evidence-based practices in online teaching
2. Identify ways to integrate evidence-based practices to your course design
3. Describe ways FERPA & Accessibility policies apply in the online courses


Gabriela Alvarez

Director of Learning Design and Innovation at Florida International University

Gabriela Alvarez is the Director of Learning Design and Innovation at Florida International University, where she leads a team of over 100 learning design professionals who partner with faculty and industry subject matter experts to create meaningful online learning experiences. She is also a Faculty Fellow in the Honors College at FIU, where she teaches two seminar courses. Gaby holds a Master of Science in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Graduate Certificate in Conflict Resolution and Consensus Building, all from Florida International University.

WEBINAR: VPAT, Accessibility Conformance Reports, and Developing Alternate Access Plans

Colleges and universities have legal obligations and institutional goals to ensure technology is accessible to all users. However, most technology is not completely accessible. By reviewing information and communication technology (ICT) products for accessibility conformance, institutions can be part of the collective efforts to reduce the accessibility barriers for students, faculty, and staff, anywhere the products are used. In this session, participants will learn: how a product’s VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) and ACR (Accessibility Conformance Report) can help an institution develop an alternate access plan and ensure the institution is taking steps towards achieving Section 508 compliance.

  • Participants will be able to describe the terms Section 508 standards, VPAT, ACR, and Equally Effective Alternate Access Plan.
  • Participants will be able to list six (6) types of accessibility conformance reviews.
  • Participants will be able to determine if a VPAT or ACR is relevant to an accessibility conformance review.
  • Participants will be able to describe how the information in a VPAT or ACR can be used to develop an alternate access plan.


Nicolás M. Crisosto

Nicolás M. CrisostoAccessibility Specialist at a California Community College

Nicolás M. Crisosto is the Accessibility Specialist at a California Community College and has been an Education and Technology consultant since 2003. He reviews technology as a certified Trusted Tester, evaluates VPAT or ACR documentation, and recommends alternate access plans as part of an institution’s information and communication technology compliance review process. Nicolás works with companies and non-profit organizations to implement solutions for accessibility challenges. He provides training for faculty members and staff on a variety of topics including web accessibility, creating accessible documents (Word, PDFs, and forms), and reviewing accessibility documentation for Section 508 and WCAG conformance.

Bandit, Nicolas’ guide dog, is an accessibility advocate who enjoys playing fetch, taking naps, and traveling with his human.

How Honorlock uses AWS AI to Support Efficacy and Security in Online Learning

Many colleges and universities have recently changed their plans for reopening on-campus classes or are considering reversals of their reopening plans. The rapid expansion of virtual learning due to COVID-19 has reinforced the need for effective remote learning and online proctoring solutions to improve student success and outcomes. Join us for a free AWS webinar where we will provide an overview of how AI and machine learning are being applied in online learning, and showcase a specific example of a leading solution for virtual proctoring. To support efficacy in online exams and to protect students’ data and privacy, Honorlock has teamed up with AWS to provide an easy-to-use cloud-based remote proctoring solution for effective virtual learning.


Joe Pringle

Technical Business Development Manager @AWS

Joe Pringle is a Technical Business Development Manager at AWS supporting education customers in their adoption and use of AI and machine learning. Joe’s passion is helping customers unlock new insights and value from data, and he brings 20 years of experience working with public sector organizations in government, the non-profit sector, and academia.

Jose Gonzalez

Jose GonzalezDirector of Customer Success @Honorlock

Jose Gonzalez is the Director of Customer Success at Honorlock. He has 5+ years of Customer Success experience in the higher education space. He has a passion for client advocacy, backed with a diverse background in leadership, client onboarding and training, as well as account management.

Honorlock Protects Student Privacy

How does Honorlock protect student data?

Have concerns about online proctoring and the privacy and security of your data? Don’t worry. Honorlock has you covered because student privacy is our top priority.

Watch the video below for a quick summary of how Honorlock protects and secures your data.

Common questions from students about data privacy & security with Honorlock's online proctoring solution

Does Honorlock sell my data or monetize my data to third parties outside of my school or university?

No. Honorlock will never sell or monetize your data.

What data does Honorlock collect from students using the service?

Honorlock collects a variety of information as explained in our Privacy Policy, such as: Student information (i.e. e.g., student name, course number, exam name. You will be asked to provide a copy of your student ID. This information is synced with your school’s learning management system (i.e., e.g., Canvas). You may be asked to upload a photo taken with the camera on your device and to do a scan using the webcam of your testing area. During the exam, if requested by your school, we collect a webcam video recording that includes desktop activity and audio recording. Exam and web pages visited by a student during an examination. If your school chooses to use a new Honorlock feature called App Unlock, in limited release, you will be asked to download an application onto your computer (in addition to installing a Chrome extension) designed to detect apps on your device that you use (or attempt to use) during the exam to help your school detect any use of prohibited programs during an exam. Honorlock’s widely available service operates solely through a Chrome extension (no application download) and doesn’t have this capability.

How long does Honorlock keep my data?

The standard retention period for student data is 365 days. Schools can customize the data retention period – shorter or longer – based on their privacy and accessibility policies and needs. Student data is deleted after this retention period. Only a request by a student’s educational institution will extend the retention period.

Is Honorlock tracking my online activities and watching me when I am not taking a proctored exam?

No, Honorlock’s service is designed to collect information (including information about websites you visit on your device) only during a proctored exam. In addition, you are free to uninstall the Chrome browser extension and any software you’ve been asked to install immediately following a proctored exam.

Where is my data stored and how well is my data protected?

All data in transit and data at rest is encrypted and stored within then cloud in an Amazon (AWS) data center. Amazon’s data centers are SOC 3 certified, U.S. Privacy Shield, and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliant.

Does Honorlock's proctoring platform use facial recognition to verify my identity?

No. Honorlock uses facial detection, which only detects that there is a clear human face in the webcam. We do not identify the face, store any of the facial elements, or match the face to a database. If no face is detected, or if multiple faces are detected, AI will flag the incident and a human proctor may intervene.

Does Honorlock have control of my computer or my mobile phone?

Honorlock’s widely available products use only a Chrome browser extension that uses AI to detect the presence of faces in your camera and different voices. A student will have to install the browser extension to take an examination. The student can immediately delete the browser extension following the examination. Honorlock does not have the ability to control your computer, read your passwords or download any files at any point in time. Honorlock does not have access or the ability to control secondary devices such as mobile phones. If your school chooses to use a new Honorlock feature in limited release, you will be asked to download an application onto your computer (in addition to installing a Chrome extension) designed to detect apps on your device that you use (or attempt to use) during the exam to help your school detect any use of prohibited programs during an exam. Honorlock’s widely available service operates solely through a Chrome extension to ensure accessibility in learning (no application download).

Need more reassurance?

Implementation Webinar: How Two Colleges Quickly Set Up Online Proctoring

Implementing software or any new technology can be a daunting task, but what if that implementation was strategically streamlined, expertly project managed, and fully supported throughout? Hear from two current Honorlock online proctoring customers as they speak to their experience implementing our online exam technology.

During this implementation webinar, each college will describe:

  • Implementation experience
  • The simple and speedy implementation timeline
  • Who was involved in the decision process and actual implementation
  • Ongoing technical support


Honorlock online proctoring customer

Cody Moyer

Director of Learning Technology Polk State College

Steven Daniello

Director of Assessment Services Indian River State College

Jose Gonzalez

Director of Customer Success @Honorlock

Faculty and Student Privacy Resources

Student and Faculty Privacy Resources

At Honorlock, student privacy is incredibly important to us because we know how important it is to you and your students. To help you navigate privacy questions from students and ensure student success, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you.

Student Privacy FAQ

Add this link to your website, the LMS course page/syllabus/messages, or link to it in an email. This is a great resource that addresses a number of student questions including:

  • What data does Honorlock collect from students?
  • Does Honorlock sell my data?
  • Does Honorlock have control of my computer or phone?

Honorlock Student Privacy Statement

Add this link to your website, the LMS course page/syllabus/messages, or link to it in an email. 

The Honorlock Student Privacy Statement describes how we protect your privacy through our advanced online proctoring software and non-invasive Chrome extension.

Blog Resources for Students

Provide links to these blog articles on any student resource site pages and within the LMS course page, messages, and syllabus.

These articles provide your students with best practices for online exams, tips to prepare, and more information on what students can expect with Honorlock remote proctoring.

Blog Resources for Faculty

Here are some links to help you as prepare for online exams this semester.

Video: Honorlock Protects Student Privacy

24/7/365 Support for Students and Faculty

Just like our proctoring software, our support is on-demand, 24/7/365.

From implementation to proctored testing, our US-based, trained support agents are available 24/7/365 via phone (faculty only), live chat, and email. Support access is built into our platform in real time. As a student navigates through their proctored exam, a link to live chat and support services is just a click away—no need to leave the proctored testing session or question how to find technical help when they run into a problem. It’s support that follows you through the online exam and helps everything run smoothly.

Employee Spotlight: Jinela Lee

What motivates you to wake up every morning and make an impact at Honorlock?

The sense of responsibility for my team and knowing that I am contributing to a fast-growing and forward-thinking company helps drive me to make an impact daily.

What are your main responsibilities at Honorlock?

My main responsibilities here at Honorlock are to guide and equip the Record and Review team with what is needed to be successful. Learning the process and training new hires has been one of the largest, yet satisfying, responsibilities to date.

What has been your favorite project so far?

My favorite, yet most challenging project, has been training a new team. This took a lot of work, dedication, and a great team in my corner to make this successful.

What’s something most people at Honorlock don’t know about you?

Most people do not know that I studied and became a Crime Scene Tech. Watching CSI and Unsolved mysteries sparked that fire to study this field. Being able to bring closure to families that were hurting drove the desire, but not wanting to become immune to horror created a different path for me.

What do you love most about being part of the Honorlock team?

What I love most about being part of the Honorlock team is that this is not only a company but more of a family building each other up. Honorlock has ALWAYS had the best interest at heart for their employees. It is truly a blessing to be part of such a great company but an even more amazing group of colleagues.

How has your career grown since starting at Honorlock?

It has grown immensely. I came on board back in March of 2020, thinking I would help for a couple of months in support. I was then asked to be part of a new team, the Record and Review team, in October of 2020. In November I was promoted to the Lead and in January the Manger of the Record and Review team. It has been a great experience and looking forward to continuing to grow here at Honorlock.

What are you most excited about in your future with Honorlock?

I am most excited about the endless possibility of growth with Honorlock. I believe with hard work, dedication, and the desire to learn the possibilities are endless.

Intellum & Honorlock Integrated Certification Solution for Customer and Partner Education

Combined, AI-driven proctoring and the industry’s leading learning platform protect the integrity of high-value professional certifications.

ATLANTA, Ga., and BOCA RATON, Fla., May 11, 2021Intellum, the leading customer education platform, and Honorlock, the leading online exam proctoring solution, today announced the first fully-integrated certification solution designed for corporate training and education programs. Organizations that certify an individual’s level of knowledge or proficiency in an industry or profession are now able to leverage Honorlock’s AI-based online exam proctoring and cheating mitigation software to further ensure the integrity of the certification programs that are designed and delivered on the Intellum Platform. 

Intellum provides clients with an all-in-one solution for authoring, presenting, managing, tracking, and continuously improving customer, partner, and employee learning initiatives at scale, which often include high-stakes, legally defensible certifications. Honorlock’s proprietary in-browser technology leverages AI to monitor user behavior through head movement, mobile-device engagement, and voice detection. If Honorlock detects potential cheating, a live proctor is alerted to intervene in real-time to ensure the integrity of the certification exam.

With e-learning expected to grow by $247 billion from 2020 to 2024, enterprises are increasingly offering a tuned-in, remote professional audience with certification programs      designed to help improve proficiency with the tools or services they offer. In a growing number of industries, these certifications are employment prerequisites.

“When structured and delivered correctly, certification programs can make a big impact on an organization’s ability to drive business outcomes through education. But scaling high-value certifications that require some form of proctoring can be extremely challenging, especially during a global pandemic and a work-from-home scenario,” said Chip Ramsey, CEO of Intellum. “The Honorlock and Intellum integration now gives organizations a more modern and secure alternative for certifying customers, partners, employees, members, individuals working in a specific industry, or the general public.”

As a result of the deep integration with Honorlock, Intellum clients get all of the benefits of executing a live “brick-and-mortar” proctored exam without the cost or logistics associated with scheduling in-person testing on the national or global level. Honorlock’s unique browser-based approach ensures that there is no disruption to the user experience in the Intellum Platform, which further supports the ability for clients to offer and promote on-demand certifications that learners can complete at any time, from anywhere. 

“Digital certification programs are ubiquitous in industries that need to support skill-building in cloud technologies, data and analytics platforms, digital marketing, and other areas,” said Michael Hemlepp, CEO, Honorlock. “Organizations offering training and exams must protect the integrity of the programs and process while opening them up to users across the globe. By combining the strengths of Honorlock and Intellum, we make that possible.”     

Click here to learn more about Intellum and Honorlock’s integrated solution, as well as to register for a co-hosted webinar on Thursday, May 13, from 1-2pm ET, featuring presentations from Honorlock and Intellum’s certifications experts. 

About Intellum

Intellum provides the customer education platform that large brands and fast-moving companies rely on to improve product utilization, customer retention, and revenue. Intellum’s scientific, data-driven approach is based on 20 years of industry experience and the Intellum Platform includes all of the tools an organization needs to create, deploy, manage, track, and continuously improve highly personalized, engaging educational experiences. To learn more, visit http://www.intellum.com.

About Honorlock

Honorlock is revolutionizing the way academic and corporate institutions enable equity in online courses and exams. Our purpose is to uphold honesty and integrity. We are all about reaffirming the trust we have in test-takers while assuring the integrity of the institution, each instructor’s institutional knowledge and value, and the exams themselves. Learn more at http://www.honorlockmerge.local.