Synap Blog  |  4 min read

Inclusive testing: 9 ways to make online exams accessible for all

How to create accessible exams to provide a fair and equal opportunity for every candidate. wheelchair.jpg


In the dynamic landscape of delivering online exams, the pursuit of accessibility and inclusivity stands as a cornerstone for creating a fair and equal opportunity for every candidate to showcase their understanding. The key to achieving this lies in embracing accessibility, and ensuring a user-friendly experience that caters to the diverse needs of all participants.

In this blog post, we delve into the essential provisions and accommodations that are key to designing an online assessment environment that not only supports, but champions the varied abilities and circumstances of each test-taker.

1. Granting extra time

Extending time allowances for an exam proves to be a valuable accommodation for candidates who may face challenges in completing their assessments within the standard timeframe.

With an average of 31% of candidates in some exams requiring 25% extra time or more 1, this is often the most commonly requested access arrangement for examinations.

Implementing an exam time extension for eligible candidates ensures that they are granted the additional time necessary to successfully navigate through their exams, promoting a more inclusive testing environment.

Granting extra time in an exam

2. Screen reader compatibility

To accommodate candidates with visual or auditory impairments, it is crucial for online exams to be seamlessly compatible with screen readers. This ensures that individuals with these access arrangements can effectively engage with exam content, fostering a more inclusive and accessible examination experience.

3. Font size customisation

Empowering candidates to customise font sizes enhances the user-friendliness of the entire exam experience. Whether individuals require larger or smaller font sizes, providing the flexibility to adjust not only the exam content, but also the entire platform, ensures a more accommodating and accessible environment for all participants.

Font size customisation

4. Multiple languages

Choosing an exam platform that offers multiple languages empowers candidates to choose their preferred portal language for a more comfortable experience.

Additionally, uploading exams in various languages facilitates a global reach, and catering to the diverse linguistic preferences of users worldwide. This combined approach ensures a more inclusive and accessible examination environment on a global scale.

Multi-lingual options

5. Resilience in low internet bandwidth

Candidates often encounter challenges such as low internet bandwidth or connectivity issues during exams, leading to potential disruptions and increased stress in an already demanding examination situation.

Choosing an assessment platform that considers low bandwidth environments becomes crucial in alleviating these concerns. Such platforms seamlessly saves the candidate's progress, eliminating the need for restarting in the event of internet drop-offs.

This resilience ensures that test-takers can continue with their exams unaffected by intermittent connectivity, allowing them to submit their responses once the internet connection is restored. This approach significantly contributes to a more reliable and stress-free examination experience.

6. Proctoring in low bandwidth environments

Traditional proctoring methods often rely on continuous video monitoring, demanding a strong and stable internet connection.

Opting for a proctoring solution designed for low bandwidth environments ensures that monitoring remains effective even in situations with limited connectivity. This strategic choice not only allows for uninterrupted proctoring but also safeguards exam security and integrity.

Synoptic breach detected

7. Mobile-friendly exams

Recognising that some candidates may lack access to desktops or laptops, with only 36.1% of households in developing countries having access to a computer at home 2, it becomes essential for exams to be compatible with mobile devices and tablets, to ensure equal usability.

This approach aims to eliminate potential disadvantages, enabling all participants to engage with their exam seamlessly, regardless of the device they use. By offering mobile-friendly options, the examination process becomes more inclusive and accessible to a diverse range of candidates.

8. Modern browsers

Ensuring user convenience during an exam is paramount, and a key aspect of this is compatibility with all modern browsers. This includes popular options such as Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge, and others.

By functioning seamlessly across various browsers, the exam platform offers a versatile and accessible experience, accommodating users regardless of their browser preference and contributing to a smoother examination process.

9. WCAG 2.1 AA compliance

Opting for an online exam platform that aligns with WCAG 2.1 AA standards guarantees an inclusive and accessible digital environment for users of all abilities. This commitment to accessibility ensures that the platform is designed to accommodate diverse needs, meeting the standards set by the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and fostering an equitable experience for every user.

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  1. Ofqual. "Access Arrangements for GCSE, AS, and A-Level: 2022 to 2023 Academic Year" GOV.UK, published [2023],
  2. Statista. “Developing countries: Share of households with a computer in 2022”, published [2021],

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