Quick Guide to using Zoom for online exam proctoring

Quick Guide to using Zoom for online exam proctoring 

Proctoring using Zoom can allow an instructional team to observe students via their webcams during exams; however, this approach has significant technical and logistical limitations, including concerns about student privacy and effectiveness in discouraging academic dishonesty. Other approaches, including automated proctoring through Respondus LockDown Browser + Monitor or alternatives to traditional assessments, are recommended before pursuing a Zoom-based strategy.

This self-help guide offers context and suggestions to consider as you plan your Zoom proctoring. Technical support for general Zoom questions is available through the IT Express help desk; however, IT Express does not specifically provide support for do-it-yourself Zoom proctoring, including live help during exams.

What Works

  • Instructor(s) and TA(s) can observe student webcams during exams and some elements of exams can be recorded
  • Zoom’s gallery view can show up to 49 webcam thumbnails on a single screen
  • Students can be separated into breakout rooms that can be monitored by TAs

What Doesn’t Work

  • No automated proctoring features exist in Zoom, so all proctoring must be done actively by the instructional team 
  • Student computer desktops and windows will not be visible during the proctoring session (Note: “Focus mode” may make this possible, depending on class size.)
  • Unmuting all student microphones is likely to cause disruptions; remaining muted means that sounds from each student’s test taking location will not be audible to proctors
  • Physical materials or other aids in a student’s test taking location will likely not be visible to proctors
  • The gallery view can only be recorded by the host with Zoom’s cloud recording features; breakout room local recordings only capture the active speaker view


  • Best for open book and other lower security assessments
  • Students may be concerned about privacy since all webcam feeds will be visible to all students in the session (Note: “Focus mode” may mitigate this concern.)
  • Identity verification by showing student IDs on screen presents privacy risks (Note: “Focus mode” may mitigate this concern.)
  • Instructional team should plan how to verify that each student’s exam was submitted in Canvas before the student disconnects from Zoom (Note: “Focus mode” may provide a solution for this.)
  • Zoom proctoring can exacerbate equity issues for students who lack access to technology like high speed internet or students who need accommodations, as well as those in non-ideal learning environments
  • Since Zoom proctoring is only synchronous, students in different time zones will be disadvantaged and may need alternative exam times

Suggestions for Planning

  1. Prepare
    1. Form a proctoring team
    2. Establish proctoring protocols and train proctors
    3. Set proctoring expectations with syllabus language and directions for students
    4. Create a support plan
    5. Plan alternative assessment methods for students unable to proctor due to technology limitations, accommodations, etc.
    6. Identify proctored exams and dates before quarter begins
  2. Set Up
    1. Canvas settings
      1. Set up a Quiz (Tip: Use “Require an access code” to limit access)
      2. Set up a SpeedGrader assignment
      3. Set up a Gradescope assignment
    2. Zoom settings
      1. Create Zoom meeting inside Canvas
      2. Enable “Focus mode”
      3. While creating / setting up meeting...
        1. Automatically record meeting” “in the cloud” to capture main session
        2. Turn off “Enable join before host
        3. Turn on “Mute participants upon entry
      4. During meeting...
        1. Turn on “Focus mode”
        2. Set chat to “Host only”
        3. Set screen sharing to “Only host” / Uncheck “Allow participants to screen share
        4. Make proctors “co-hosts”
  3. Communicate
    1. Before - syllabus, announcements, etc.
    2. During - backchannel, submission confirmation
  4. Proctor
    1. Exam day steps for students and proctors
    2. Recording and review process for proctor team
  5. Report and Evaluate
    1. Review incidents
    2. Forward to UC Davis Student Judicial Affairs or dismiss