Best Practices for Writing Effective Exam Rules


The exam has been written. You’ve successfully created questions that are both effective and challenging. Now it’s time to develop the exam rules. 

One of the most important characteristics that test-takers value is clarity. The best way to provide this is through practical exam rules that make it easy to understand what is, and is not, allowed. When writing your exam rules, please note that Examity has Standard Rules, which apply to every test and do not need to be manually added each time.

Standard Rules include:

• Being alone in the room
Having a clear desk and work space
Connected to a powersource
No phones or headphones
No dual monitors
No leaving seat
No talking
Webcam, speakers, and microphone must remain on throughout the test
The proctor must be able to see you for the duration of the test

These rules ensure that the test-taker will be free of distractions and able to focus on the exam without interruptions or the use of outside resources. 

If you are building additional rules into your exam, always abide by simple guidelines:

Make them clear
Make them concise
Make them consistent


Avoid confusion by making the rules as clear as possible. One way to do this is to group together the list of rules for each part of the exam (pre-exam, exam, post-exam). The example below demonstrates how this is best utilized.

Do Don’t
PRE-EXAM: Remove electronic devices from the testing area.  Make sure that any items that can access the internet are not present with you during the time you are taking your exam.

TIP: Communicate exam rules to test-takers in advance of test day by sending them via email,  posting them in your LMS, or noting within your program documentation.


Be direct. Less is more. In order to keep the test-taker’s attention, it is crucial that you convey your messages as concisely as possible.

Do Don’t
Test-takers are allowed to use one black or one blue pen. No other pen colors are permitted. Test-takers cannot have more than one pen. The pen has to be black or blue. It cannot be any other color aside from black or blue. Any other color pen must be removed from the workspace. Using a pen that isn’t black or blue will result in an automatic failing score.

TIP: Concise instructions reduce authentication time, allowing test-takers to start their exam sooner.


Test-takers look for consistency to know what to expect both now and in the future. When possible, try to create and stick to the same set of rules. This builds expectations about what is and is not permitted during exams. 

Do Don’t
For ALL exams, test-takers may not use study materials or any other outside resources. Test-takers may not use study materials or any other outside resources during this exam.

TIP: If you want to draw attention to a particular element of the rule, apply all capital letters. However, you should use this treatment sparingly to maximize the impact.


The next time that you are writing exam rules, keep these three guidelines in mind in order to avoid confusion and help test-takers feel more at ease. Remember, the Examity account team is always here to help.