How to prepare for an online assessment at home

Our guide on online assessments tells you how to set up your space and equipment for your exam.

If you’re taking an online assessment, the first thing you need to check is where you’ll be taking your exam. 

Most learners take their online assessments in their own home, but your teacher may have decided that it is better for you to go to their venue instead. 

If you’re taking your online assessment at home, there’s a bit of preparation to get it exam ready first. 

You will need  

  • A device with a stable internet access. This can be a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or even a phone  
  • A webcam and microphone. These can be integrated into your device or separate. Just make sure to test that everything is working properly before your exam  
  • An internet connection  
  • Earphones (headphones will do, in a pinch – but in order for you and your examiner to feel the most engaged, we think earphones are best). You’ll need these for the Knowledge section of your exam 
  • A chaperone to help you set up and introduce you to the examiner. This can be a parent, guardian or someone else responsible in your household  
  • Your exam materials. Your teacher can advise what you need to have with you for the exam 

You will be asked to sight-read a text. This text will be drawn from the same book as your prose. This can either be a physical book or an e-book. If you are using an e-book you will need to use a secondary device and not the same one that you are running Zoom on. Phones are not permitted, but you can use a laptop, Kindle, iPad or other type of tablet. 

You will need a pen and blank paper to select your conversation topic (for Grades 4 and 5) or impromptu title (for Grades 6, 7 and 8) and to make notes. For your visual aids, you can use PowerPoint if you want to. This will need to be presented on a secondary device which is visible on camera. You will not be able to use the screenshare feature on Zoom (this makes the window the examiner sees you in go really small, and they won’t be able to access you accurately in a thumbnail).

Setting up  

  • We use Zoom to conduct your online assessments. You can join the Zoom meeting using the link sent to you by your teacher, or by entering the meeting details on the Zoom app. You can download the Zoom app for free and you don’t need to register to join the meeting  
  • Pick a room where you have space to move around. Ideally this should be somewhere where you can have a bit of quiet, but for online safety reasons, it’s better not to use your bedroom. Ideally, you should have at least a six-foot square area of floor space to perform in. It might help to move some furniture out of the way  
  • Find a spot to set up your device so the camera captures you clearly. You want plenty of light, but make sure that you don’t have a window behind where you will be performing, otherwise we won’t be able to see you properly  
  • You’ll need something to put your device on. This can be a tripod (if you have one) or a table. Whatever you are using, make sure that it is level and secure, so it won’t slip during your exam. We don’t want a tilted view of you!  
  • Have a chair in the room, for you to sit on in the Knowledge part of your exam  
  • Once you’re set up, record yourself in the space so you can see what your camera sees. This is what the examiner will see so it’s important to get it right. Work out where the camera's boundaries are so that you don’t accidentally move out of view during your exam
  • Test all your equipment and have a go at using Zoom if you’ve never tried it before. Run through your pieces with your teacher, or ask a friend or family member to watch to make sure that everything is working and that they can see and hear you properly  
  • Check that you don’t have any personal photos that might be seen by the camera or anything else that might identify you  
  • Make sure everyone in your household knows when your exam is so that they can leave your internet connection clear for you. During the exam they’ll need to be quiet so that they don’t interrupt or distract you  
  • Pick your outfit. We want you to feel comfortable. Please dress fully and appropriately, just as you would for an exam at a centre. Do not wear your school uniform