Preparation for Fall Final Exams and Grading

Well, we’ve just about made it to the end of the fall quarter. Phew! Given the external pressures on everyone at this moment, that alone feels like an accomplishment. But, now that the majority of the quarter is over, it’s time for the final two tasks to close it out: finals and grading.

As a recent article in Inside Higher Ed points out, grading in a pandemic can present its own unique challenge. To make the process easier, we’ve gathered a shortlist of resources for you as you prepare to finish up.

Online Exams

When offering a final exam online, it’s important to remember that students have varying internet access, speed, and signal strength, as well as the added complexity of being spread across multiple time zones. The video below, from the Keep Teaching series on Digital Learning, is a great primer on the various tools available to you as a Northwestern instructor when offering online exams. Additionally, it includes a number of thoughtful suggestions from peers across the university on dealing with student anxiety over finals.

Keep Teaching–Online Quizzes and Exams

For more information on this topic, read our three-step guide that can help you give an exam online. For more general assessment needs, the Keep Teaching Assessment and Grading webpage also includes links to tools, grading policies, and additional resources.

Using Respondus for Final Exams

If you are planning on using the Respondus LockDown Browser or Monitor proctoring tools in conjunction with Canvas for your final exam, the list below will be crucial to successfully using either option (especially if you have not previously used them in your course).

  1. Attend one of the daily webinars offered by Respondus: Register here.
  2. Add a short, no-stakes practice exam for students that uses LockDown Browser and Monitor so your students can work out any technical difficulties before the live exam.
  3. Share this link to download Respondus with your students,, as well as the quick start guide. It’s a good idea to also post this in your Canvas site as well.

NOTE: Some screen readers are incompatible with Respondus products. Students should consult AccessibleNU regarding screen readers and LockDown Browser and/or Monitor. Also, if any of your students use a Chromebook, there are some extra setup steps you’ll need to complete to enable their use for the exam.

Helpful Guides on the Canvas Gradebook

The Teaching & Learning Technologies team has created a quick guide to help you navigate the Canvas gradebook. In addition, Canvas Support also has helpful guides on adding and editing grades as well as how to access SpeedGrader from the Gradebook.

Sending Grades to CAESAR

Instead of manually entering each grade individually in CAESAR, you can enable GradeSync in your course to automatically send final grades to CAESAR with the push of a button. It can be used more than once throughout the grading period, allowing you to submit grades in batches or to adjust as you go. CAESAR will always reflect the most recent GradeSync submission.

Review our instructions on the setup and use of GradeSync.

Canvas Support

Need help? Canvas Support is available 24/7 for instructors by calling 833-879-0860 or via live chat. Instructors may also email with NetID issues or Northwestern-specific Canvas questions. Finally, within Canvas, you can use the automated Canvas Chatbot to search the Canvas Guides or get answers to common questions.

The content of this article was originally shared in The Canvas Post. You can read the original version as well as more tips and insights from the Northwestern IT Teaching and Learning Technologies Team at