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Reducing Exam Anxiety: Honorlock and University of North Alabama Survey Shows a Reduction in Anxiety with Proctored Exam Prep

eBook shows how proctoring done properly can reduce student test anxiety

BOCA RATON, Fla. (September 22, 2021) Honorlock and the University of North Alabama have released the results of a survey designed to learn about student test anxiety, how schools and proctoring providers can reduce anxiety and ways instructors can better support student success using proctored exams. The findings are summarized in the new eBook Creating an Anxiety-Free Proctored Exam Experience.

Results found that the three primary drivers of student anxiety associated with online exam proctoring are:

  1. Concerns about technology issues impacting their test performance
  2. Not understanding behaviors that might be flagged by the AI or live proctor 
  3. Not knowing how interactions with a live proctor might play out

But, when educational institutions create the proper environment and prepare students for proctored assessments, students report that having a live proctor can actually reduce overall test anxiety. Further, effective proctor training can be used to build student confidence.

Students were surveyed before their first proctored exams and again after their second exams. Overwhelmingly, familiarity with pop-in proctor engagement resulted in less pre-test anxiety. Having a chat with a proctor during a practice exam or in a previous exam gave students comfort in knowing how a live engagement might feel. This allowed students to concentrate on the exam instead of worrying, indicated by a 15% decrease in anxiety associated with the statement: “Thoughts about the proctor interfered with my concentration.”

Overall, students experienced a 6% decrease in test anxiety between their first and second exams based on having a better understanding of the technology, potential behavioral triggers and experience with proctor engagement.

“College students are reporting their highest levels of depression and anxiety of any prior semester. And an increase in remote learning has heightened anxiety even further,” stated Honorlock CEO Michael Hemlepp. “But remote proctoring doesn’t need to add to the stress of test-taking. When educational institutions create the proper environment and prepare students for the process, having a live proctor can actually reduce student anxiety.”

Recommendations for educational institutions include holding practice exams so students can confirm that their computers are set up properly on the platform, providing proper documentation and instructional information for students, creating an exam help center for students with questions and giving students an opportunity to interact with a proctor in a practice setting. 

About the Test Anxiety Study

This study was a prospective educational intervention approved by the Institutional Review Board from the University of North Alabama. The study ran from August through October 2020 and targeted high stakes mid-term and final exams from summer and fall semesters for two different classes. A total of 187 tests were proctored during the study period. A control group of students were followed from July 1 – August 15, 2020. The intervention group of students were followed September 1 through October 21, 2020.

About Honorlock Online Proctoring

Honorlock is revolutionizing the way academic and enterprise institutions enable equity in online courses and exams. Our purpose is to uphold honesty and integrity. We focus on reaffirming the trust we have in students while assuring integrity for the institution, each instructor’s knowledge and value, and the exams themselves.