Regular Exams vs Proctored | Everything you Need to Know

Proctored Exam vs Regular
Santiago Mallea

Santiago Mallea

Content Writer At Gradehacker

It’s no mystery that online education successfully translated the tasks from in-person classes to the digital world. And tests are no different. Not only are there regular exams, with multiple-choice questions in a limited time, but also proctored exams, which require the same level of stress and preparation. 

Even in different places and without anyone physically beside you, colleges found a way to control what you do during your test.

So what can we say from the clash between regular exams vs. proctored? How much does their overall experience differ? Which are the differences between each type of exam? And how can I do better at them?

If taking exams is not one of your strengths, then some of these questions have definitely popped up in your head, especially before starting a new online course or after reading that one of your upcoming tests is proctored.

Preparing yourself to take a regular or proctored exam is no easy task, but luckily, by understanding how they work and learning a few tricks, your experience can significantly improve! 

Here at Gradehacker, we have tons of experience helping college students with even the most complex exams. We understand how hard and stressful it can be to take them, and that’s why we are comparing proctored vs. regular exams and commit to sharing the best hacks for you to ace all your upcoming tests!

Proctored Exam vs Regular

Before we start, it is important that we’ve got the basics covered.

What's The Difference Between Proctored And Non-Proctored Exams?

The main and most important difference is that in a proctored exam, there is an online proctoring software monitoring your computer’s desktop, webcam, and audio. In contrast, nothing is tracking your movements in a traditional exam. 

So, if you are taking a proctored exam, it is much harder to cheat as there will be someone or something supervising every move you take.

Still, each type of exam has its own changes and variations, and you must know how they work before starting a new class.

How Does An Online Proctored Exam Work?

As we mentioned, in a proctored exam, your screen will be recorded alongside your webcam video and audio, which will be supervised by a proctor or A.I. To achieve that, colleges hire remote proctoring software such as ExamOnline, SpeedExam, Examus, or ProctorU, among others.

Before taking the exam, you need to ensure that you have a computer with a strong internet connection. Then, you have to download and install the software. The proctor conducting the exam may do that for you by using your computer screen to ensure the program is installed correctly.

So first, you need to complete the check-in process. The proctoring software has to ensure that you are actually about to take the exam; therefore, you’ll have to validate your identity. This is done in two ways:

Until the proctor has authenticated your identity and ensured you are sharing your screen with video and audio, the test won’t begin.

Once you are ready to take the exam, the software will start monitoring you. Not only will you be seen and recorded, but it will also recognize which other software and websites are currently open on your browser. 

Additionally, each remote proctoring software has its own secure browser feature to detect any activity related to changing the test window and browsing for information. If you try to open a new window, even in incognito, your screen will be blacklisted, and the exam will end for you.

Because of this feature, you can’t:

Proctored Exam vs Regular

Types Of Proctored Exams

However, the key aspect of remote-proctored exams is that you will be seen during the entire exam duration. Under any doubtful case in which you make a strange eye movement, someone is heard in the background, or you attempt to use your phone, the software will recognize it and warn the proctor about it.

Still, there are three types of online proctoring:

Be aware that your recordings are saved into the software cloud, which will continue to be available for review after you finish the exam.


What are the best tips you need to take into account to avoid calling the attention of proctors and A.I?

Technical Requirements

Exam Environment

Can a College Service Help With A Proctored Exam?

Because of so many advanced exam security features, impersonation is difficult. Many college-related services that help students with their classes and usually help with tests are not able to take care of proctored exams.

Nevertheless, here at Gradehacker, we are always open to see how we can help with proctored exams. You can submit your request to our team to review, and if it is within our subject matter expertise and availability, we will let you know the next steps.

Proctored Exam vs Regular

Proctored exams are a great choice for colleges that want to avoid students cheating in their exams. However, many students feel uncomfortable with online proctoring because they are concerned about their privacy and don’t like having their computers monitored.

Plus, with so many cautions in mind and the critical consequences of failing them, many students feel more stressed when preparing for a proctored exam.

Now that we’ve seen how they work, how about non-proctored exams?

How Does A Regular Online Exam Work?

Regular tests are like traditional exams that you find and take in your online portal. Unlike proctored, there isn’t any supervisor or software watching you or controlling what you do on your screen.

While there might be some variations, they usually have multiple-choice questions that you have to answer in a limited time. Before starting it, always check how much time you’ll have, as the instructions will tell you everything about each specific test.

So, in regular exams, you can have other sites and documents open as you are taking them. You might have textbooks, Wikipedia, or any site to help you answer the questions with more certainty.

Are Regular Exams That Easy?

The truth is that colleges are aware of how easy it is to cheat during their exams, and they prepare their tests knowing it.

Something all colleges do is create a question bank with a wide variety of questions that appear randomly. This way, each student has to complete a different exam, stopping them from sharing results with other classmates.

Plus, to avoid copying and searching for questions and keywords in their textbook, teachers change the order or meaning of the question. This way, students won’t find the answers that easily, hence they’ll have to read the class material first.

Another trick schools do is prepare their exams with problem-solving questions, where it is necessary for students to first read and understand the exam content and then answer it with critical thinking of their own.

Proctored Exam vs Regular

Nonetheless, some colleges manage to use anti-cheating features that significantly impact how students cheat.

One way is by giving students only a limited time to answer. For example, if within an hour you have to finish an exam of 60 questions, you only have one minute to answer each question. With this really short time, it is highly difficult to find keywords or search for questions on Google.

But as there is nothing that limits the sites you can have open, you can first read all the course material and take notes, so when you are taking the test, you know where to find what they are asking you. 

Another way is to use test-blocking software, such as LockDown Browser, a custom browser learning management system used to lock down the testing environment. Unlike proctored programs, these don’t need to be installed on your computer, as they are included in your testing platform. With this option, students can’t change their window and can only stay on their testing screen.

While this controls how you use your computer, nothing stops you from having a notebook with annotations or using another device like your phone or a second computer.


Regular online exams may seem easier to take than proctored, but that doesn’t change that there are a few tips you should have in mind:

Can A College Service Help You With A Regular Exam?

Many college help services are fully capable of helping you with your regular exams.

If you want to secure a good grade, Gradehacker offers an Exams and Quizzes Service that will fit your needs. Check it out, and stop wasting your valuable time preparing for those complex exams!

While regular exams do require the same preparation time, it is true that without the academic pressure of someone watching and controlling what you do, students feel less stressed when they have to take them.

Proctored Exam vs. Regular Exam

So, what does each type of exam have to offer?


You need to download and install the proctoring software

You don't need to install anything

A proctor or an AI watches you and your screen

You take the test from your student portal

You have to verify your identity before starting

Nobody controls what you do while taking them

You can't open any other window, use external devices, or have people with you

You can have other windows and files open

Once you've finished the exam, the recordings of your screen are saved to be reviewed later

Some colleges do use anti-cheating features, but they are not as rigid as a proctored exam

Only a few college services like Gradehacker can help you with them

You can get help from college services like Gradehacker

Relax And Take That Exam!

Whether you can have your sources besides you in a regular exam or need to fully prepare yourself for a proctored test, preparing and taking exams can be one of the hardest and most stressful moments for college students. It is the ultimate moment where you have to prove that you know and understand all the course material, and that can be challenging.

While the pressure of having someone or A.I. reviewing your movements can increase the stress you feel, at the end of the day, you need to study on equal measures for both types. If you want to get the best grades, even the freedom of having the textbook with you is not enough! 

Your education is at stake, and while we know that some classes might not be as important as others, every piece of information is worth learning. So next time you have to take an exam, prepare yourself as much as you can and take it with confidence!

Even if it is a proctored exam. Don’t let the pressure overwhelm you; it’s just someone watching you as if you were in a physical classroom. Don’t think about it, and trust in what you know!

But if taking exams is troubling you, here at Gradehacker, we can help you ace that exam! Even if it is proctored, get in touch with our team and see if we can help! And if you need extra help, we got your back with essays and classes too!

If you want to learn more tips on how to improve your college experience, you can read our related articles: