Exams in ONYX

Last modified by Carina Enke on 18.01.2024

The ONYX Testsuite facilitates the presentation of complex exam scenarios. To use exams in the context of the learning platform OPAL, you can integrate ONYX tests into your courses. The test course element also comes with a special exam mode.

More detailed information can be found on the OPAL help pages for the exam mode.

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Exam browser

An exam browser allows the implementation of closed exam scenarios. When using the exam browser, the participant will only have access to approved applications and functions. In the simplest case, the participant can only operate the exam application. Other browser pages, functions or system functions are not accessible.

For ONYX exams performed as part of the learning platform OPAL, the use of the open source system Safe Exam Browser (SEB) by ETH Zürich is recommended for closed exam scenarios. The exam browser SEB provides comprehensive security, and a special ID ensures that the exam can only be carried out in the SEB environment.

For more information, refer to the Guide to using the Safe Exam Browser (SEB).

Exam mode

The exam mode allows authenticated users to monitor the exam.

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For all participants who qualify to take the exam, the exam mode shows the current exam state:

  • The participant is not present.
  • The participant is waiting for the exam to start.
  • The participant is processing the exam.
  • The participant has restarted the exam.
  • The participant has completed the exam.
  • The participant has aborted the exam.

Using the exam mode, the supervisor has the opportunity to actively intervene in the exam process, which enables them to start or finish the exam for one or more participants. Exams can be configured in such a way so that they can only be started with the supervisor's manual approval. It is also possible to finish the exam for all participants at once.

More detailed information can be found on the OPAL help pages for the exam mode.

User identification during the exam

For reliable identification, the participant's name is permanently displayed on the screen while taking the exam. This extension affects in particular the exam execution in the Safe Examination Browser (SEB), where the participant's name from the learning platform is now permanently visible.

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Client backup

The assessment function also ensures a client backup. In the event of a system error on the client, the examiner may allow to continue the exam on another computer and extend the processing time if necessary. Once approved, the participant can continue the exam on another device.

Progress is saved with every change so that a complete recovery can be guaranteed.

Server backup

Exam data is stored on the server in real time and regularly backed up to the learning platform. If the learning platform fails for technical reasons, the exam can still be completed using ONYX.

As soon as availability of the learning platform is restored, the data will automatically be saved. If there should be any problems with the transfer of results, the answers can also be downloaded by the examinee and manually submitted to the examiner.

Export PDF file

Exam content can be printed as a PDF file and used as a hardcopy test in an emergency situation if everything else fails.

The PDF document will be printed in A4 format following the ISO 216 standard.

For more information, refer to the help page Export test as PDF.

Backing up learner responses

For each test and exam run, an exam record (exam) is created in HTML and PDF format upon completion of the test. The exam record contains all the information seen and generated by the examinee in the course of the exam. In addition to the exam record, an exam overview (assessment) is provided in HTML and PDF format. The exam overview always contains all assessment information, including manual re-assessments. The document is recreated each time the assessment is changed and offers an additional option for data archiving as well as the possibility to review the exam in paper format. 


The exam documents are protected against changes through a checksum using a hash procedure. This checksum serves as proof that the data has not been changed after it was created. For verification purposes within the learning platform (OPAL), an open source-based validation tool is provided.

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Within the learning platform (OPAL), the checksum can also be downloaded as a printable document in the exam mode.

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In the exam workflow, the participant can be displayed this exam confirmation, including the associated exam record, at the end of the exam. The exam confirmation to be signed by the participant then only contains the checksum. By signing the exam confirmation with the checksum, the participant also confirms the content of the associated document, i. e. the exam record as well as the exam questions and answers.

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