Accommodations still apply for remote final exams, and there are things students with disabilities can do to ensure all goes as smooth as possible. Disability Services, in collaboration with the Office of Information Technology (OIT), Digital Accessibility and Arts and Sciences Academic Coaching have put together various resources for students to utliize as they prepare for final exams. 

Before the Test

  • Ask your professor if you can wear ear plugs during the exam (earmuffs can sometimes work too).
  • Set up a loud fan or noise machine to drown out excess noise.
  • Notify others in the house that you will be taking a test, where, and for how long.
  • Hang a sign on your door with language such as “Do not disturb, taking a timed test.”
  • Use a room separate from others, if possible; minimize any distractions (phone, people, computer pop ups or sounds). Place your phone on the other side of the room, or in a different room, to minimize this potential distraction.
  • Set up to test in an area that is relatively isolated, well away from others, and with a stable internet connection. Testing your internet connection before the exam is highly recommended. If possible, use an Ethernet cord to access the Internet rather than Wi-Fi for reliability.
  • If the test is offered over a long period (such as 24 hours), arrange to test at a time with relatively few distractions; for example, consider taking the test when other people are out of the house, quietly working, or asleep.

  • Confirm your accommodations for each exam with your professor ahead of time.
  • Make sure you know the standard test length time so you can double check at the start of the exam to ensure that any extended time or break accommodations have been implemented.
  • Connect with your professor and discuss how you should connect with them if you have a question, error, or complication arise during the exam.
  • Ask your professor what type of exam this will be: multiple choice; free response; essay; etc., and be sure you have a clear understanding of the content that will be covered.
  • What software will you be using to test? Canvas? Examity? Proctorio? Try to familiarize yourself with the tools as much as possible in advance. Ask your instructor if you they can set up a practice exam using the software.
  • Confirm your exam time relative to your time zone with a time zone converter tool. Remember, CU Boulder is currently in Mountain Daylight Time (MDT). Canvas shows assignment times in the course time zone by default, but you can also set your local time zone for your Canvas account, which will then change all times into your time zone.
  • If you are testing in Canvas, make sure you understand how long the exam will be “Available” for so that you can plan when you need to start the exam to be able to finish by the time it closes. If a 90 minute exam is only available from 8am - 10am, you would need to start by 8:30am to be able to use the full 90 minutes. Once the “Available Until” time arrives, all students will be forced to submit the exam regardless of whether you have additional time remaining.

  • Do a "brain dump" (make notes of what's currently going through your mind) and put it aside.
  • Make sure computer will be set up for use for the full duration of the exam. Ensure it is fully charged and plugged in; make sure the computer will not forcibly install any system or software updates during the exam; turn off all desktop notifications not related to exam and close out all non-essential software; ensure you can connect to the Internet.
  • Take care of your basic needs. Get a good night's sleep, have a hearty breakfast, eat normal meals throughout the day, use the bathroom right before, and make sure you have access to water nearby.
  • Consider a quick guided breathing or meditation activity (recommend from CU's website) just minutes before the exam.
  • Prepare a quick “warm-up” to do before the exam. You don’t see sprinters running a marathon or taking a nap before a race; you see them doing a warm-up.  How do you want to feel when you start the exam? Confident? Relaxed? You probably don’t want to feel overwhelmed. What should you do in your warm-up to prompt the way you want to feel?  

  • Practice under simulated exam conditions.
  • Schedule Zoom review sessions with your classmates- have everyone come prepared with five to ten review questions they have created that they think could be on the test and quiz each other.
  • Choose a topic that will be on the exam. Now create ten practice questions that could be quiz questions related to this topic (think like your professor). Answer these questions, then repeat for additional topics to practice studying. Try to guess what questions might be on the exam.
  • If it's an open book exam, add stickies or tabs in your textbook for sections you know you'll need to reference ahead of time. Prepare condensed notes for faster review during exam time (i.e. formula sheet, theory summaries, etc.).
  • Use the Pomodoro technique; study for 20 minutes, take a five-minute break. Then, on every fourth break take a longer 20-30 minute break instead. Studying in bursts helps to maintain concentration and energy levels.
  • Look into Bloom’s Taxonomy as a guide for study strategies. This is a great baseline for the types of knowledge that could be tested on an exam, and types of questions that could be asked.
  • Begin studying well in advanced of the exam; for example, if there are seven chapters included in this exam, begin studying eight or nine days ahead of time and break your studying up by studying a chapter each day. Ideally, you should study and review the material every day anyway; this time would be dedicated test preparation added to your normal study time.
  • Check in with your Academic Advisor about virtual tutoring, mentoring, and academic coaching that could be available through your program.

During the Test

  • Before starting the exam, review the time limit and any other relevant settings to ensure your accommodations have been implemented. Contact your Access Coordinator ASAP with any concerns.
    • In Canvas, the “Available” field within the testing start page will highlight how long the test will be open for; for example, from 8 to 10 a.m.. The test will end at 10 a.m. MDT no matter where you are within the exam (whether you have completed it or not). Be sure to leave yourself enough time to complete the exam.
    • The “Time Limit” field within the test start page will highlight how much time you personally will have on the exam—this is where your extra time would appear.
    • If expected accommodations and/or resources are not available, contact your professor immediately at start of exam so they can address this as soon as possible. You can copy your Access Coordinator to this email as well.
  • Keep track of how much time you are spending on each question, if possible, to set a good pace. Or keep track of the overall time. One option could be to set a timer to go off every five minutes to help you stay on track.
  • Read each question carefully; if your professor allows scrap paper, write down key words for each question to double check understanding (for example, “Provide three examples...”, “Identity which never occurred...” etc.).
  • If potential answers are provided, read each answer before selecting one (e.g. multiple choice).
  • Make sure you have answered all test questions and the questions have been marked as “completed” or “answered.” In Canvas, there is a question list in the top right corner of the page; questions will change from a question mark icon to a checkmark icon when they have been completed.
  • Take a deep breath or stretch (recommend simple at-desk stretches) when feeling stressed to relieve tension.
  • If you have accessibility or technology concerns arise during the exam, please contact your professor and Access Coordinator as soon as possible!
  • Take any extra time to double check your responses and revisit questions that you are unsure whether you have answered correctly.

After the Test:

  • If you had accessibility or technology concerns arise during the exam, please contact your professor and Access Coordinator as soon as possible!
  • If you would like to review your exam answers and results, please set up a time with your professor to go over the test.
  • Reflect on the test-taking experience to learn for next time. What strategies helped or didn't help and why? What changes may need to occur, who can help make those changes happen?


  • Certain accommodations such as Reader, Scribe or Screen Reader may require additional planning for final exams; if you have questions or concerns, please contact your Access Coordinator well in advance of your exams or quizzes.
  • We also have additional information about accommodations in the online/remote format.

Downloadable Handouts

Additional Resources: