Queen’s should conduct exams remotely

Out with the old, in with the remote

Image by: Curtis Heinzl
Vivian believes remote examination allows for better accommodation.

In-person exams are a dated tradition that don’t quite fit with modern academia. 

Over the last three years, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a host of challenges. However, the pandemic also brought about changes in the workforce and within academics. 

The pandemic presented a window of opportunity in which higher education saw changes to class delivery methods. Professors opted for Zoom classes when necessary, and likewise, students could access classes remotely if unable to physically attend class for any reason. 

Although attending classes virtually is certainly no substitution for in-person classes, exams are an entirely different issue.

During the height of the pandemic, Queen’s switched to remote exams to limit the spread of COVID-19. Last semester, Queen’s returning to in-person exams caused significant problems with scheduling, particularly for Law exams.  

There is a general feeling, particularly in the Law community at Queen’s, that in-person exams seem dated after successfully having remote exams for the last couple of years. 

In Winter 2022, all in-person exams were moved to remote platforms after students petitioned in support of remote examinations. Many students find writing in an exam hall very stressful as listening to other students type and shuffle their notes can be incredibly distracting. 

Last exam season was nothing short of a scheduling disaster, and it appears in-person exams are causing more issues than they’re solving in the post-pandemic academic world. 

Several Law school exams were impacted by the influx of accommodations. Students were required to write at a later date on a moment’s notice and some students were forced to wait until January to write their final exam, long after classes had restarted following the holidays.

Queen’s is a mid-size university and evidently does not have the space to house every student’s accommodation. It’s clear there isn’t enough space to accommodate each student, so why must we return to in-person exams? 

As evidenced by past exam seasons, there are ways that exams can be proctored effectively to avoid cheating as best as possible. Many faculties at Queen’s have regularly used Proctortrack and Examity with success. More recently, the Law school has adopted Examplify as the assessment platform. 

Last semester, the Law school permitted students to use their own computers to write their exams on a temporary basis, which is now permanent. For many Law students, the only reason they spend the gas money to drive to campus and pay for parking is simply to write their exam in a room that may or may not even be available. 

If Law students are permitted to write their exams on their own laptops, they should be permitted—or at least be given the option, to write from home as well. 

If there are an unprecedented number of students requiring private rooms, and Queen’s simply does not have the space to house all students with exam accommodations, shouldn’t these students be permitted to write from the comfort of their own controlled environment? 

Understandably, some students may not have the luxury of living alone or with other students in the same program and may therefore prefer to write on campus. However, implementing a remote exam policy would save space on campus for those who prefer to write there and save everyone the headache of attempting to schedule around every accommodation. 

With all this being said, there’s no question the concept of remote exams has faced issues with privacy and effectively exam proctoring.

Examplify is the platform used to administer Law exams and it prevents cheating by cutting off your computer’s access to internet and suspending the copy/paste function. Used in conjunction with Turnitin, it’s extremely difficult to cheat and not get caught red-handed. However, some professors permit the use of the internet since Law exams are open book.

However, it isn’t just universities that have to contend with cheaters. The Law Society of Ontario (LSO) confirmed over 150 candidates had breached the LSO rules and regulations during the November 2021 licensing exams. Even with the high degree of security around writing the bar exam, cheating still happens. 

It seems cheating is a plain fact of test-taking no matter what. The solution is finding a way that lessens the possibility of cheating as far as possible. It doesn’t seem that remote exams can be said to open the door to cheating more so than in-person exams.

In-person exams are an old tradition. Though Queen’s loves to continue their traditions, let’s do away with this one for the sake of the modern student’s sanity.


Vivian is a second-year Law student. 


exam season, exams, in-person exams, Law students, remote, remote exams

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

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