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This page includes resources for designing and proctoring exams that promote academic integrity. While students have a responsibility to ensure their own academic integrity, instructors can reduce students’ temptation to act dishonestly even before the exam by providing students with clear guidance and designing exams to encourage integrity. Effective and thoughtful proctoring shows students that instructors take it seriously.

CETLI staff are available to meet with you to discuss your exam and proctoring questions.

On this page: 

Making Expectations Clear

To set your students up to succeed, clearly and consistently communicate your expectations for academic integrity on exams. Some approaches to this conversation with students might include: 

  • Discuss why integrity matters.
  • Explain what is or isn't acceptable during the exam. For example, students can use calculators but not cell phones. 
  • Give students a sense of the exam structure and types of questions ahead of time so they know what to expect and may feel less stress.
  • Have and communicate a consistent policy on re-grading.
  • If you have students who need to take a test at the Center for Accommodated Testing, remind students to reserve a seat at the testing center and review their test appointment to ensure the information is accurate. See Accessible Teaching Practices for Students with Disabilities for more information. 

Designing Exams

To design exams that promote student academic integrity and align with your learning goals for the course, you might: 

  • Use questions that encourage students to apply information rather than re-state a memorized piece of information. This makes it more challenging for students to quickly look up answers.
  • Encourage students to show their work as evidence that they did the work themselves. You may want to provide and collect scrap paper as part of the exam.
  • Create different versions of exams so that students cannot easily cheat by looking at each others' papers. Tools like Canvas Quizzes and Gradescope can help with this.
  • Change exam questions as often as you can so that students cannot "borrow" other students' work from the previous term.
  • If you use take-home or online exams, give students a clear set of policies to guide their work.
  • Avoid giving only a few high-stakes exams. Instead, give students more frequent and lower-stakes exams throughout the semester.

Proctoring Exams

Whether you are proctoring a paper-based or computer-based exam, consider how you will reiterate your specific academic integrity expectations and monitor for compliance with your policies:  

  • Regulate the use of electronic devices or have students leave their backpacks and other belongings at the front of the room.
  • Have a policy for when students need to leave the room or go to the restroom.
  • Have students sign a statement affirming they have not cheated.
  • Actively observe the room during the test.

  • Require that students show their Penn IDs so you know who is taking the exam.
  • Separate students from each other while they take the exam.
  • Limit students to the use of four-function calculators only.
  • Make sure students do not bring prepared answers or prohibited materials.
  • Announce ahead of time how many pages and problems are on the exam. Some departments even print that information on the first page of the exam.
  • Scan or copy exams before returning them, so students do not change answers in requesting a re-grade.

Before the exam, identify the environment and devices students will use: 

  • For smaller classes, consider reserving a computer lab to ensure students have access to the up-to-date software they will need. You can contact the registrar to inquire about room availability. 
  • For larger classes, students will likely need to bring their own laptops (not tablets or mobile devices) for the exam.To ensure students are prepared: 
    • Work with your instructional technology staff to identify and communicate the minimum software and hardware requirements students need on their devices and share best practices for preparing their technology. 
    • Consider offering practice exams or quizzes, which can help familiarize students with the exam setup and can help them make sure their technology is ready before the real exam.

On the day of the exam:

  • Consider renting additional laptops and having paper copies of the exam in case there are problems with students’ devices.
  • Know who to contact for technical support. You can also ask if a technical support person can be in the room during the exam.
  • Document any technical issues that students experience during the exam.

Tools for proctoring computer-based exams 


Consider using the Respondus lockdown browser to limit applications and resources students can access during an in-person, proctored exam. 

Canvas Quizzes

Make sure your settings are configured properly to promote a secure and appropriate testing environment. You can contact your school’s instructional technology staff to help you review and test these settings before your exam.

  •  To prevent students from sharing answers or looking at others’ responses:
    • Use question groups or question banks to randomize the quiz questions that students see during the exam.
    • Do not allow multiple attempts for the exam.
    • Do not let students see their responses or their correct answers until after the exam window has closed for all students or when grades are released.
  • To make sure students have the correct amount of time to take the exam and can’t start earlier than allowed:
    • Provide a time limit. Note that Canvas will automatically submit students’ exams once they reach the time limit. 
    • Apply any accommodations for individual students that require them, such as granting extra time on an online exam.
    • If using an access code to prevent students from initiating the exam outside of the proctored environment, do not share the code before all students are seated for the exam. 
    • Set the due and availability dates carefully. If any students in the class are allowed extended time, make sure to set the available until time to at least a minute beyond that time so they are not closed out of the exam early. Students without accommodations will still be limited to the time limit set for the exam.

For information on additional online assessment tools, visit CETLI’s resource page.

Concerns About Academic Integrity Violations

  • Consider why you suspect a violation.
    • What is the evidence? Gather information: identify the student(s) involved, and create a seating chart that will help you contact witnesses at a later time, if necessary.
    • Is there an alternative explanation besides a violation?
    • Are you unintentionally acting on bias?
  • If you suspect cheating during the exam, identify  a way to interrupt the behavior without being disruptive to other students or singling out the student(s) in question.
  • If you desire, follow up with the Center for Community Standards and Accountability (CSA).
    • Instructors may choose to report the conduct to CSA, which may open an investigation. Only the instructor of record can make a report to CSA. Instructors are not obligated to do so.
    • You can have a confidential conversation with CSA without bringing a case.
    • Importantly, CSA does not assign grades. 

If you have other questions about designing or proctoring exams, reach out to CETLI for additional support.