Best Practices in Midterms, Finals, and Exams

Establish clear expectations to students before the exam.

Write or present exam instructions to the students that establish clear exam expectations, so they know:

  • when the time window for taking the exam begins and when it ends
  • whether or not the exam is timed
  • whether of not the test is “closed book” or “open book”
  • what scope and content is covered in the exam
  • what types of questions (multiple choice, short answer, etc.) are used
  • where students can seek help if they encounter technical difficulties

Dr. Shahbaz Gill’s video to students in his BADM 320 course above provides an example of how to prepare students for their exams by establishing clear expectations.

Ensure students’ DRES Accommodations have been applied to all assessments.

Instructors who receive formal Accommodation Letters can follow this process in Compass:

Enable settings that benefit students while keeping assessments secure.

Select settings that optimize functionality, grading consistency, and submission ease.

  • In Compass2g, do not select “Force Submission”, but choose “Auto-Submit” instead, so students’ efforts will be submitted when their allotted time for the exam is over.
  • For guidance and consistency in grading essay answers in large classes with more than one TA, consider adding rubrics. It’s also generally a good idea to have a meeting before the exam with TAs to discuss grading expectations.
  • Consider adding feedback for True-False and Multiple Choice answers, which students can review after the test window has closed for the class.

Prevent cheating and plagiarism in your exams.

  • Use SafeAssign on Assignments and inform students that their submissions will run through SafeAssign Report.
  • Use an Academic Integrity pledge.
    • Make your expectations clear, provide a definition of academic integrity, and list unacceptable behaviors.
  • If you are able to hold a synchronous exam, do so, and monitor students via Zoom. TAs can also be assigned to monitor specific Zoom Breakrooms.
  • Deliver questions in random order, using question sets in Compass.
  • Randomize the letters for correct answers in Multiple Choice questions.
  • Present test questions one at a time to discourage printing/taking screen shots.
  • Delay giving feedback until the test time window is over for all students.

Annotated Webinar: Creating Assessments in Compass 2g

More Resources


An undergraduate student prepares for a Midterm.