Online Exam Risks, Contingency, and Suggestions


  • This article covers the typical risks that could delay or interrupt online exams.
  • Some risks (e.g. system failure, internet failure, and power outages) are rare but possible and often out with University control.  
  • This article aims to provide details of past incidents and remind teachers of the need to plan mitigation strategies, and inform students on the arrangements in advance if they plan to conduct online exams or "F2F+Online" exams.


  • Examples (Please use [Staff/student ID] as the Username and [OnePass password] to access the examples)
    • Campus network failure
    • System failure
    • Power outages
    • Fires / fire alarms


  • Anticipate everything that could go wrong and use the information to plan mitigation strategies. Consider informing the students on the arrangements in advance
  • If something goes wrong (e.g. system failure, network failure), announcements/updates will be made on the respective system/service, ITSC website, and via hotline 39433901.
  • If the problem cannot be resolved within a reasonable period (or no estimate recovery time can be provided), be prepared to execute the backup plan (e.g. use of alternative technologies, the arrangement of makeup exams) after consulting the respective offices.

General Suggestions

  • Read the examination related information shared on RES website, GSO website and eLearning website for Assessment Support and share the applicable information with students.
  • Remind students to (i) use a computer and a reliable network to do the exam, (ii) get ready using the planned and alternative technologies (as advised by the course teachers), (iii) check out suggestions from our eLearning Student Ambassadors on Instagram.
  • Consider (i) using a staggered model for releasing question paper and collection of answer script from students to distribute the system load to help ensure a smooth process; (ii) accommodating students with special needs (need more time, need to use screen reader, need to use VPN service to access non-China hosted technologies, unstable internet, unstable power supply, need for a suitable space etc.); (iii) extending the exam time to allow students to deal with issues; (iv) contacting respective offices for help and support if needed.
  • We have put together a support article on the technologies adopted by exams with "self-arranged online invigilation" and a few last-minute reminders.  The suggestions apply to the use of the technologies in general (i.e. not just for exams with "self-arranged online invigilation").

Additional resources (by CLEAR)

Additional resources (by ITSC)