SEM and Examlock Troubleshooting and Tips

The University of Alberta provides technical support for two online proctoring programs, SEM and Examlock. As is true of all technology, technical issues can occur while using these tools. The following can help you mitigate and solve the challenges your students may encounter:

Catch Issues Early: Practice In Advance 

Hold a few practice sessions for your students; doing so will allow them the low-stress opportunity to test their hardware while getting used to SEM and/or Examlock. To allow ample opportunity to check for technical challenges, plan to run three or more of these practice sessions. Where possible, ask your students to sit in the same environment they intend to write the actual exam in. (i.e. try the same room, the same lighting, etc.)

In addition to the practice sessions, consider offering a live demo to ensure that your students understand how to use the software.

Software Compatibility Issues

Some of your students may require the use of special accommodation software when working in an online environment. During your practice sessions, let your students know that they can contact you if they encounter any issues using their accommodation software while utilizing SEM or Examlock. 

If they run into compatibility issues like this, you should reach out to Accessibility Resources right away. Talk with one of their specialists to see what solutions may be available. If the technology will not work together, you may need to offer the individual student an alternative option.

Internet Disruptions

If a student encounters internet connectivity issues and loses access to an exam and/or SEM, they should be advised to restart once their connection has been restored. Both eClass and SEM will allow re-launches and will save in-progress work and monitoring logs. Students would need to go through the SEM sign-in again if that SEM session has dropped.

Students using ExamLock are NOT affected by internet disruptions during their exam attempt. Examlock will allow them to continue answering questions and will save their work to their computer. Once their internet connection has been restored they will need to submit their attempt and upload the ExamLock information. If students encounter crashing or freezing in ExamLock they should be able to re-start their attempt with the same session code.

Identity Recognition Issues

There have been reports that the online proctoring tools are sometimes unable to recognize when a student is present. In some cases, this may present as a note that the student does not have enough lighting, or it might simply not verify a student’s identity, or Face Match may not work. Hopefully this is something that will be caught during a practice session, but no matter when it may occur (i.e., in practice or during the exam), make sure that they can click “proceed” to skip the step. Remind your students to let you know if this happens to them. As the instructor, if you see a flag related to validation, conduct your own manual identity check after the exam.

Premature Use of the “Finish Exam” Button

Occasionally a student might accidentally click the “Finish Exam” button at the start of the exam by mistake. When this happens SEM marks the student’s exam as complete and will not let them back in.

Just in case this happens, before each exam it’s recommended that you create a separate SEM block/link in your eClass course and set it to “Available but not shown.” Then create a clone of your SEM exam session in this “hidden” block.

If a student contacts you at the start of an exam to let you know that they accidentally clicked the “Finish Exam” button you’ll be able to send them the link to this hidden block. It’s important to keep this back-up block hidden since it should only be used for those few individual cases when it’s needed. 

If you are using Examlock and SEM as tools in your exams, eClass support will help you check the settings of these tools for major exams (Midterms and Finals). Please contact them at for more information.

As a reminder, you can always visit the Centre for Teaching and Learning to find out if there may be an alternative to online proctoring that might better meet both your teaching needs and the learning needs of your students.