Online tests provide a simple and adaptable way to test professionally and in education. Online exams are an effective way to evaluate knowledge, skills, and talents. Whether proctored or not, online tests offer a safe assessment of knowledge and skills. These online exams can be timed or untimed and come in various styles, including multiple-choice, essay, and fill-in-the-blank questions. They are the best option for exams because they offer enterprises and institutions an affordable and scalable solution. In this blog, we will discuss specific ethical dilemmas of online exams that students usually face along with possible solutions to deal with them.

Types of Ethical Dilemmas Of Online Exams

Cheating and Academic Dishonesty

Online exams sometimes increase the likelihood of academic dishonesty or cheating during educational learning. The most common kind involves taking credit for someone else’s work. Academic dishonesty can also be connected to students’ lack of interest in and preparedness for the learning module. It is also connected to unofficial cooperation aimed at gaming the system by participating in widespread dishonesty without fear of detection or repercussions. Thus, this is one of the major ethical dilemmas of online exams.

Privacy Concerns in Online Proctoring

Through online proctoring, the instructor can observe the candidate’s microphone, computer screen, and webcam are recorded during the exam. Although this is done to stop cheating, privacy issues are raised. Candidates could feel uneasy about being watched over and filmed throughout the proctored exam. Additionally, there’s a chance that private information could be collected and disseminated without their knowledge.

Accessibility Issues with Online Exams

Not every applicant can participate in online exams proctoring, especially those with disabilities. To finish the exam, specific candidates might need accommodations, including more time, specialized tools, or other testing procedures. Online proctoring might not meet these requirements, which would put these applicants at a disadvantage and perhaps break anti-discrimination regulations.

Technical Difficulties and Malfunctions

A dependable and quick internet connection and a functional computer, webcam, and microphone are necessary for proctoring the online exam. However, not all candidates might have access to these materials. Technical problems that could disrupt the exam and cause the candidate stress and anxiety in online testing environments include hardware malfunctions, software errors, and insufficient internet access.

Cultural Sensitivity

The lack of cultural sensitivity in online proctoring systems might cause problems for applicants from various backgrounds. For instance, some applicants might originate from societies where maintaining eye contact is frowned upon, leading the proctor to mistake their actions as suspicious. Cultural sensitivity must be considered while designing online proctoring systems to prevent unfairly disadvantageous outcomes for specific candidates.


Last but not least, is misunderstanding of the teacher’s intent. It is often seen that students tend to misunderstand what the teacher meant or taught. It generally happens because students and teachers do not meet face-to-face. This particular problem leads to wrong narratives which is another significant ethical dilemmas of online exams.

Possible Solutions to Ethical Dilemmas Of Online Exams

Academic Integrity Policies and Honor Codes

It is advisable to mention the Honor Code at the start of exams or on the cover sheet. This practice should be paired with conversations or communications to ensure that students know what comes under a violation of this code while taking an online exam. The tone of the conversation communicates the expectation that students follow the Honor Code.

Design Assessments to Reduce Misconduct

Using assessment modes less prone to cheating than written tests—such as oral exams, articles, group projects, poster sessions, discussion boards, etc.—is the most efficient way to protect academic integrity in online assessments. If written tests are required, there are strategies to reduce the impact of cheating on other students and deter cheating altogether. While Part III covers a range of particular exam forms and how they lessen the incentives and chances for cheating, this section offers some broad guidelines.

Technology and Software Improvements

After considering their students’ DSP accommodations, possible internet connectivity problems, workspace circumstances, and geographic location, teachers should develop a plan to meet their students’ needs. Instructors who are unsure about whether to provide an accommodation should speak with DSP (Disabled Student Programs and Services) Disability Specialist Services right away. DSP rules for online learning and evaluation are available here. The Google survey sample that members of the Working Group have created on Online Examinations and Proctoring can be tailored to an instructor’s requirements.

Communication and Support for Students

Instructors should test the online submission process, such as for open-book vs. closed-book online exams, at least one week before the exam date. This will help troubleshoot potential issues and allow the instructor to receive student feedback. Instructors should keep the dry run as close to the exam format as possible. Both bCourses and Gradescope allow instructors to duplicate assignments. This function can be used to create a dry run assignment with a similar setup.

Online Exam Assistance

You can choose to get help from online exam assistance websites like These websites provide professional exam takers who will take your exams on your behalf. The technical experts are subject matter experts offering guaranteed A grades. 

Bonus: 4 Online Exam Tips For Dire Situations

  1. Professors are always there to assist you! Ask questions about topics you need clarification on and what the exam will cover.
  2. Things may alter depending on which source your professor chooses to administer the test through. To check that entering responses is clear or to identify any technological difficulties (some require access to a camera and microphone), try the format first!
  3. If your Wi-Fi stops working, first, first take a screenshot of the problem and provide your answers. That way, you have proof for the professor that it was a network issue.
  4. NOT for cheating during an exam, but they can be accommodating to study from the last minute. A cheat sheet only includes the most essential concepts and what you struggle to memorize.


The ethical dilemmas of online exams are multifaceted and complex. They range from the temptation to cheat in an unsupervised environment to concerns about privacy, equity, and the adequacy of online assessments in truly measuring a student’s abilities. Exploring these challenges requires rethinking how online assessments are conducted and a deeper understanding of students’ unique pressures and constraints in the digital age.

Also read on online exam strategies that can help you overcome online exam challenges and score well. As we embrace online education, addressing these ethical dilemmas of online exams head-on is crucial, ensuring that the pursuit of knowledge remains fair, respectful, and accurate to the academic principles underpinning our educational systems.

Courtney Haden