View things to consider when setting limited-duration online exams.

About Computer Based Exams (CEX)

Computer Based Exams (CEXs) are limited duration online tests of knowledge and understanding by question/s not known to the student prior to the examination. They can comprise of a combination of question types to assess students’ knowledge and ability to apply knowledge, including fill-in the blanks, multiple choice questions, True or False, Ordering questions, and more.

The major benefits of CEXs or MCQ-type assessments include automated marking, the ability to restrict attempts, the possibility of item randomisation and option to present exams under time limited conditions.

However, they are restrictive in terms of allowing students to showcase the extent of their knowledge beyond what the question asks or the ability to formulate their own answers.

Things to consider when designing limited duration online exams

These are some useful things to consider when designing limited duration online exams.


Without invigilation in place, students may attempt to discuss questions with their peers. Providing a limited time for accessing the online test and ensuring questions appear randomly can reduce this possibility. Using multiple sets of questions that can then be randomly allocated can further reduce the possibilities for academic misconduct.

Feedback provision

Some marking within computer-based exams can be automated and you can make sure of this mechanism to provide effective feedback to students. For instance, direct feedback can be linked with certain questions, offering guidance to students that answer them wrongly and directing them to resources to enhance their knowledge on the subject.

Tips for designing limited duration online exams

When designing limited duration online exams, note that:

  • as with any online assessment tools, you should limit the use of knowledge recollection questions, as those can easily be found online with the use of search engines. If this is unavoidable, consider mechanisms to mitigate academic misconduct, such as limiting the time of the exam, or formulating the question in a way that it wouldn’t be easy to search online
  • with True or False and MCQ questions, you can consider adding images or graphs that require interpretation, to evaluate a deeper level of understanding
  • you can consider adding problem-solving questions that require students to draw on and apply their knowledge from various areas in order to provide the correct answer
  • with MCQs, students can be rewarded for guessing, as such, alternative answers need to be carefully formulated and plausible. Ensure that incorrect choices cannot be easily discounted, as this would decrease the difficulty of the question and make answering correctly purely by guessing easier.

Find futher guidance on question setting.

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