Proficiency Exam Instructions & Policies

Proficiency exams will be available to take online from May 6 – June 17.  Registration will open in early May.

Once you have registered and received confirmation, you may take the exam on a date and time that is most convenient for you, within the availability period. Students are notified of their exam results via email within approximately five days of taking the exam. Should you pass an exam, you will work with your Academic Advisor to review options for course substitution.

Exam Policies

  • Students must register for any proficiency exams they wish to take.
  • Each proficiency exam may be taken only once.
  • Students have a maximum of two hours to take each exam.
  • Study guides are not provided for proficiency exams. Students are encouraged to review the course overviews, provided here.
  • To take a proficiency exam, test takers are required to access Canvas, Washington University’s web-based learning management system, and Respondus LockDown Browser, a custom browser that allows for secure online exam delivery. Additional information about the exam platform and testing conditions can be found below.
  • Test takers must adhere completely to the testing conditions and instructions provided, and the Brown School’s Academic Integrity Policy.

Exam Platform

Proficiency exams are taken online through the use of two tools:

  • Canvas: Students must use their email address to log into Canvas.  If you have not created your email account, you must do so prior to taking an exam. When you log in, you will find that you have been “enrolled” in a class, “Brown Proficiency Exams” When you click into the class, you will find access to a set of practice exams, as well as the exams for which you have registered. You will not have access to exams for which you did not register. You do not need to download anything for Canvas.
  • Respondus LockDown Browser: Respondus LockDown Browser closes access to any other programs and pages on your computer, such as internet browsers, email, calendar, etc. It simultaneously records you as your take your exam. You will find a brief overview here. You will need to download LockDown Browser. If you are taking more than one proficiency exam, you will need to login again and reload LockDown Browser.

Testing Conditions

You must adhere to the following instructions for the duration of the exam:

  • You may not access any other electronic or paper resource, including, but not limited to: a phone, a tablet, notes or books. Students taking the Biostatistics exam may reference specific papers, and additional instructions are provided in “Announcements” section of the course.
  • Clear your desk or workspace of all external materials. All electronic devices (e.g. tablets, phones, second computers) must be turned off and remain out of reach. Remove any books, papers or other resources.
  • Ensure you are in a location in your house where others won’t interrupt you. You may not communicate with other people during the exam. If someone enters your space, please turn to face them, clearly ask them to leave, and then return to the exam.
  • Remain at your computer with the webcam positioned to fully capture your face for the duration of the test. Be prepared to sit at your monitor, without interruption or leaving your seat, for the duration of the exam.
  • If an interruption occurs, briefly explain what happened by speaking directly to your webcam.
  • You cannot exit (i.e. close the window of) the exam until all questions are answered and the test has been submitted. The Respondus LockDown Browser will also prevent you from accessing other websites or applications until the test is submitted. Before starting the exam, ensure you have allotted sufficient time to download LockDown Browser (between 5-30 minutes) and take your exam (120 minutes maximum).  The WebCam feature will note if you leave the space in front of your computer.
  • If you complete the WebCam Check and System Check for LockDown Browser, but then change the computer, Wi-Fi, or location, run the checks again prior to the exam

By submitting an exam, you affirm that you have completed this exam yourself and have not accessed additional materials or consulted with another person or other resource.

Step-By-Step Guide for Taking Proficiency Exams

Please refer to this step-by-step guide that walks you through the entire proficiency exam process.  We strongly recommend downloading and saving the guide before accessing your exam, as you cannot access this information once your exam is in progress.

 Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What if I do not have access to the internet?

A. Proficiency Exams require internet access. If you do not have internet access at your current location, you may be able to find a location with free and reliable wifi.

Q. What if I do not have a webcam?

A. A webcam is required for the exams, and is also required as part of the Brown School’s Laptop Requirement.

Q. When can I take these exams?

A. Exams will be available to take online, via Canvas, beginning in May. You may take the exams at any time of the day during the availability period.

Q. Who will watch the recording and when will they be watched? 

A. These exams will not be observed or monitored in real-time (i.e., while you are taking the exams). If you pass your exam, then we will watch a playback of your recording to verify academic integrity. Only the grader for the exams can view the recording.

Q. What are the technology requirements?

A. Please refer to the Brown School’s Laptop Requirement for system requirements. In addition, you’ll need a broadband internet connection to complete the exam. 

Q. How long will I have to take the exam?

A. You will have two hours for each exam.    

If you need accommodations for additional time for test taking, please connect with the Disability Resources Office as soon as possible. This will ensure the office has time to process your request. 

Q. Who should I contact if I have a problem?

A. Most technical issues should be resolved by taking the practice exams. If a problem does occur while you are taking the exam, don’t panic. You’ll find resources below for “Getting Help.” 

Tips for Producing a Good Webcam Recording

To produce a good webcam video, do the following:

  • Avoid wearing baseball caps or hats with brims
  • Ensure your computer or device is on a firm surface (a desk or table). Do NOT have the computer on your lap, a bed, or other surface where the device (or you) are likely to move
  • If using a built-in webcam, avoid readjusting the tilt of the screen after the webcam setup is complete
  • Take the exam in a well-lit room, but avoid backlighting (such as sitting with your back to a window)

Getting Help with Respondus LockDown Browser

Several resources are available if you encounter problems with LockDown Browser:

  • On Windows and Mac products, LockDown Browser has a “Help Center” button located on the toolbar.
  • Use the “System & Network Check” and “Webcam Check” to troubleshoot issues.
  • Respondus has a Knowledge Base available from Select the “Knowledge Base” link and then select “Respondus LockDown Browser” as the product. If your problem is with a webcam, select “Respondus Monitor” as your product.
  • If you’re still unable to resolve a technical issue with LockDown Browser, go to and select “Submit a Ticket” and receive customer support.