Most online classes require a minimum of one proctored examination. With the increased risk of academic dishonesty, some instructors and professors require multiple proctored exams. I recently completed a 100% online Introduction to Oceanography course. The professor (of Florida Institute of Technology and BCC) required three proctored exams for the course. These tests included two mid-terms and one final exam, all three requiring an essay worth 30-50% of the exam. Unknown topics always cause anxiety, especially when it is a timed, closed book, no notes--proctored online exam. As I took my final exam yesterday, I was confident until I looked at the list of essay topics I had the opportunity to choose from. Out of the five, one topic seemed to be most familiar to me--Hydrothermal Vent Communities. I was grateful that I might know enough to actually write a complete essay on the topic. I was sure I would not do well enough with any of the other four topics to have passed this exam (essay was worth 50% of this final). Yes, there is life at the bottom of the ocean floor but how do I write five paragraphs?
As I began writing my outline to cover the five points my professor requested for this topic, another student entered the exam room and was seated behind me. As she began to take her essay exam, this student's anxiety rose to a level I was not prepared for. As she pounded the keyboard typing her essay, I thought she would break it. I could hear her gasping for breath as if an elephant were seated upon her chest. It was quite disheartening, it has been so long since I felt any anxiety during a timed essay exam, I'd forgotten what it was like. The tension blanketed the computer lab and I was thankful to be proofreading my final essay for submission. A few moments later I clicked on the "Submit" button and exited the lab. When I arrived home and checked my coursemail I was pleasantly surprised to see that my professor had already graded my essay and posted the results! I enjoy receiving perfect scores on my essays and was delighted to learn I'd achieved over 100% for a final grade for the course. I could not help but think about the woman seated behind me gasping for breath while typing her essay. Was the essay well written? Did she catch her breath and correct her mistakes? Could she remember what she'd learned and outline it logically?
If you're a science major and you'd like to improve your ability to draft an essay for examination, please do not hesitate to contact me! I'd love to coach you and help you achieve higher scores on your exams.