Timed Exams

It is okay to give your students timed exams in online classes.  Make sure to give ample time. If you have taught the course in person, you should probably give online students about the same amount of time to take the exam.  Remember, an online student isn’t just taking the exam. They also have to deal with technology issues, noises in their testing locations, and other distractions.

Every class and every subject will have different parameters for timed exams. My suggestions are guidelines. If you have a comment, please add it to the discussion below.

Timed Exams for my Online Physics Classes

I usually give about a 90-minute window for my physics exams.  These usually consist of about 29 multiple choice questions and 4 worked problems.  That equates to about 3 minutes per 3-point question.  (I do adjust slightly to make exams worth 100 points even.) This usually this gives students plenty of time to complete the exam.


Students may have accommodations on how long they have to take timed exams. You can talk to your Office of Student Disability Services (OSDS) about this. (Every organization has a different name for this department.)

The guidelines given to you by the OSDS are not recommendations. They are required by law. Regardless of what you think about accommodations, the guidelines given to you by your OSDS need to be followed. If you don’t follow them, you can subject yourself and your organization to lawsuits.

Often, the guidelines for accommodations require you to provide 1.5x or 2.0x the amount of time for an accommodation. This means that for my 90 minute exams, a student with a 1.5x accommodation has 135 minutes to take the exam. Likewise, a student with a 2.0x accommodation would have 180 minutes to take the timed exam.

Talk about it…

If you have any questions or comments, please add them to the comments below.