Q&A: How Is Testing Conducted in Online Classes?

Answer: Online courses are very similar to general courses that are in a physical classroom. Not all online classes have tests and/or quizzes, but many do, and they may also include a final exam.

Tests: Some courses are more likely to have tests than others; it depends on the subject, the school and the instructor. Tests are likely in classes such as math and science, but not limited to these subjects. Types of test questions include multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching and essay. Another option for online testing is whether it is untimed or timed, meaning there is a limited amount of time to complete it.

Tests usually have more weight in the course than typical assignments, which means that tests can have a greater effect on your overall grade. Tests are often longer than quizzes and encompass more course content. For example, a test may have 50 questions on a single chapter or cover several chapters from the course textbook.

Quizzes: Most but not all online courses have quizzes. Quizzes are ways to check in with students to make sure they are reading and understanding the material. This allows instructors to review lessons as needed, depending on students' scores. The types of questions for quizzes are the same as for tests, but quizzes are more likely to be offered as multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank responses.

Individual quizzes may be worth a smaller amount of points, compared to tests. However, if there are several small quizzes, they could affect your overall grade. For example, a 10-week course might have a 10-question weekly quiz worth 10 points. This may not seem like a lot, but overall, quizzes would be worth 100 points (which could be a lot, depending on the total points you can earn in the class).

If you have a class that includes tests or quizzes, follow these steps to prepare:

  • Read the assigned course material early, and take notes
  • Re-read the material a day or two later
  • Review your notes before you take the test or quiz -- and good luck!

Dr. Beverley BrowningDr. Beverly A. Browning (Dr. Bev) has been a higher education adjunct faculty member for over 25 years. She has taught in the classroom and online for multiple colleges and universities including Spring Arbor College, Baker College of Flint, Mott Community College, and Rio Salado College. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, Spring Arbor College and Mott Community College. She is currently an online instructor for ed2go.com (Cengage Learning). In addition to founding and directing the Grant Writing Training Foundation, Dr. Bev is also Vice President of Grants Professional Services for eCivis, Inc. She is the author over over 37 grant-related publications and a frequent keynote speaker and workshop presenter for national and regional conferences. Dr. Bev is a product of lifelong learning and an advocate for online teaching and learning!