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Engineering Guide: Online Exam Alternatives

Online Exam Alternatives

What do you need to know for your online exam alternative? How can you prepare?

This page covers preparation for your assessment and viva, where to get assistance, and how to find out if you will have access to your online textbook.

Start by reading this tip sheet carefully.

You may need to upload images of your calculations to your tests. This document will walk you through two ways to upload your calculations:

Make sure you practice scanning and preparing your calculations in advance, so you can minimise the amount of time this will take on the day of your exam alternative.

Preparing for a Viva

A viva is a live session where examiners will ask you to explain some of the answers you gave in your original assessment. This ensures you understand the course content and can explain your thinking, and is one way of detecting academic misconduct.

Learn more about vivas and what to expect:

Learn more about academic integrity and academic misconduct in online assessments, and what sources you are allowed to use:

Follow the links below for more tips on how to best prepare for a viva:

Nervous about speaking?

This technique is a good tool to develop your English, develop your confidence, or to use as a study technique to check how much you know about a topic:

Nerves can also be handled with deep breathing:

Library Ebooks

Many library ebooks have limits to how many students can access each book at one time. If your online assessment is time-limited, you may find that you will not be able to access your textbook online, because other students are using it already. If you check the availability of your textbook well in advance of your scheduled assessment due date, you will be able to prepare for this. You may need to make alternative arrangements, such as:

  • downloading required book sections ahead of the exam (if allowed),
  • taking detailed notes, or
  • purchasing your own copy of your textbook.


This information will look different depending on where the ebook is hosted. If your textbook is hosted on ProQuest Ebook Central, the availability will be visible on the landing page for the book:

Screenshot of ebook availability: Your institution has access to 3 copies of this book.

If your textbook says "Your institution has unlimited access to this book" then you should be able to access the book during your exam. Any other text, including if it says there are "multiple copies", means that there are user limits and you should take steps to ensure you have alternative access to the material.

Other hosting platforms will look a bit different. For example, here is a book hosted on ScienceDirect, with unlimited access:

Screenshot of ebook availability (ScienceDirect): Full text access.

Here is an example of a textbook on another platform with restricted access:

Screenshot of ebook availability (other database): Limited user access.


You can sometimes download parts of your textbook, but not all publishers allow their books to be downloaded. You can check the download conditions on the same page where you found the book's availability. For example, this book allows chapter downloads, but only a certain number of pages each day:

Download conditions (ProQuest): X pages remaining for PDF print/chapter download

This limit will reset after 24 hours. If you check early enough, you will be able to download multiple chapters in preparation for your assessment. Chapter PDFs of these books will not expire.

Not all books allow chapter downloads. If you download the whole book, you will need to ensure that your loan period does not expire before you finish your assessment. Here is an example of a book that only allows a whole book download:

Download conditions (ProQuest): Print and chapter download are not available for this book.

For books outside of ProQuest Ebook Central, it might be a bit more difficult to find out if you can download. Here is one example. Another example of download conditions can be seen in the previous section.

Download conditions (ProQuest): Download all chapters.



To download a section of a book that allows downloads, scroll down to the table of contents for the book. If the book is hosted in ProQuest Ebook Central, you should see a link to download a chapter. Choose your chapters carefully: which chapters or pages would be most useful for you for this assessment? Keep in mind that you can only download a certain number of pages per day.

Chapter downloads (ProQuest): Download PDF.

If your book does not allow downloads, you may need to purchase your own copy to ensure you have access to the chapters you need. Alternatively, you can take notes from the book. What examples, equations, or concepts will be most useful for you during your assessment?


Make sure you check the availability of your textbook early to avoid disappointment. If you are unsure about the access conditions for your textbook, email with a screenshot and a link to the book, and we can help you locate this information. Allow plenty of time to make alternative arrangements if the book does have access restrictions.

Reading Critically and Taking Notes

For tips on reading critically and taking effective notes, use the following resources:

Where Can I Go for Support?

For support with Canvas and other learning technologies that are used to enhance your learning and assessment ECU offers a range of support:

For IT-related support:

To ensure you are aware of what constitutes academic misconduct, read through the Academic Integrity page on this guide:

Finally, if your question is about course or unit content, you should contact your unit coordinator or tutor directly.