How do students get time-based accommodations for online timed assessments?

Students who are eligible for exam accommodations with the OSD must complete the online exam sign up form a minimum of 14 days prior to the date of the assessment for all time-based assessments scheduled on or after February 1st, 2021.

The OSD Exam Coordinators will then follow up with you, the course instructor, and request that you complete the Exam Instructions for OSD form to confirm the details of the exam at least 3 business days before the exam. The information provided on this form is crucial as it will confirm and/or supersede the exam details students have provided on sign up.

Once you have confirmed the details of the assessment, the OSD Exam Coordinators will follow up with you approximately 2 business days before the assessment by email to inform you of any time-based accommodations to be applied to the given exam (see image below for example).

The OSD has created an online calculation tool to support instructors with the implementation of these accommodations (login required).

It is possible to adjust the individual timing of exams on myCourses for students with different time-based accommodations. Detailed instructions can be found through McGill IT Services (login required). Brightspace also offers a series of video tutorials, including one on changing individual exam times. Detailed instructions can be found in this McGill IT Support Article. The article pathway is: Knowledge base > Teaching & Learning > myCourses (learning management system) > Creating Quizzes in myCourses > Restrictions (Allowing Students Special Access to a Quiz).

You can also enter “Creating Quizzes in myCourses” into the search form.

Prior to the exam, we ask that professors communicate directly with students to confirm any modifications to their exam (format, start time, or duration) so that students are informed that their accommodations have been applied and can prepare accordingly. With the information provided by OSD, instructors can follow the guidelines on "Remember to think about accessibility" on the TLS website and to engage with the resources provided, and "Allowing students Special Access on MyCourses", available on the IT Knowledge Base.

If the class has been given 48 hours or more to complete the assessment (i.e. if the students have the full 48 hours to open, complete, and submit their assessment):

Time-based accommodations do not apply; students do not submit an exam sign-up form. The OSD Exam Center may reach out to you directly should a student require exceptional consideration given their disability-related barriers.

I received an email from the OSD that a student has registered for online exam accommodations in a course that I am teaching. What do I do now?

1. Confirm the format of the assessment to determine whether individual time-based accommodations apply

There are 3 types of assessment formats:

  • Timed: Students have a fixed duration to complete their exam. For example, students have a 48-hour window to complete a 1-hour assessment. Once they log in, they have 1 hour to submit.

    • Individual time-based accommodations apply. Please ensure to calculate and adjust the exam times individually for all students with approved accommodations. Then, communicate directly with the student to confirm that their accommodations have been applied.

  • Timed & Inclusive Assessment Design: Students have a fixed duration to complete their exam. All students receive at least double the original duration (2x time) to submit the exam. You have communicated to students regarding this assessment design at the start of the semester, ideally in your course syllabus. Students have a 48-hour window to complete a 1-hour assessment. Once they log in, they have 2.5 hours to submit.

    • Individual time-based accommodations do not apply, so long as the exam writing period doubles the expected duration AND you have communicated this to your students in advance. The OSD will contact you if there are exceptions.

  • Take-home exam: Students have at least 48 hours to start, finish, and return the exam. There is no set time within the designated window.

    • Individual time-based accommodations do not apply, so long as the exam writing is at least 48 hours. The OSD will contact you if there are exceptions.

2. Verify that the course-relevant information listed in the e-mail is accurate


Family name

First name

Course number



Student e-mail




FOOD 101


T 1/4 & SW

john.doe [at] mail.mcgill.ca

3. Calculate the student's time-based accommodations using a secure calculator tool

For timed assessments, the instructor is responsible for calculating and adjusting the exam parameters for each student. If you have any questions about programming student's extra time on myCourses, exams.osd [at] mcgill.ca (subject: nyCourses%20support%20with%20individual%20time-based%20accommodations) (reach out to our exam team). Please provide the course code as well as the issue that you are experiencing and we will do our best to assist you.

A calculator was created by McGill’s OSD to best guide Faculty & Staff when providing students with their approved exam accommodations in an online context. The calculator generates the exam time for students, according to their time-based accommodations. To access the calculator, click here.

For example, the student John Doe has T1/4 (time and a quarter or 25%) and SW (stopwatch) listed as their exam accommodations. In other words, the student is entitled to receive extra time towards their exam duration in the following way:

  Original duration Duration for John Doe
Exam duration 2 hours 3 hours

In the calculator tool, select the exam length (original duration), the type of time-based accommodation, as well as the student's specific extra time amount, as listed on the e-mail that you received from the OSD. 

Click on Calculate. The calculator generates the updated exam time for students, according to their time-based accommodations and the original duration of the exam.

4. Adjust individual time-based accommodations in myCourses

To access the full instructions on Creating a timed quiz on myCourses, click here to view the McGill Knowledge Base. To adjust individual time-based accommodations, follow the instructions listed below.

On the Restrictions tab of the quiz, click the radio button beside the following option "Allow selected users special access to this quiz".

  • "Special Access" allows you to set special access rights or restrictions for chosen users. All other users will be able to see the quiz and will be governed by the normal restrictions you have set up in the Restrictions tab for the quiz.
  • Click "Add Users to Special Access"

Select the checkbox beside the name of each student ("User") you want to give special access to.​ Click "Add Special Access​."

On the "Special Access Properties" page, select the Date Availability and Timing options you want the selected student(s) to have.

After setting up special access for a student, in the "Special Access" section of the Restrictions tab, you can see that the selected user been added to the list and their special access settings appear beside their name.

Hover your mouse over the pencil icon that appears beside a student's name to modify the student's "Timing".​ Click on "Enforce a Time Limit." ​This is where you will input the student’s time limit, in accordance to their time-based accommodations.

5. Communicate directly with your students individually to confirm that you have programmed their extra time on the testing platform (i.e. myCourses).

Below is an example that you might include in your confirmation e-mail to students:

Dear student, this e-mail serves as a confirmation that your time-based accommodation has been programmed onto myCourses, which has been calculated as per your registration with the OSD and the original duration of the assessment. Please make sure to verify, before starting your assessment, that your extra time has been programmed correctly. If your extra time has not been programmed, please reach out to me directly to let me know.

How are time-based accommodations applied to various final exam formats?

Below we have put together a simple chart outlining how time-based accommodations are applied to the recommended final exam formats:

Exam Option Do time-based accommodations apply? Who does what?

Oral exam

(e.g. students complete exam virtually with instructor/TA)



Informs instructors of student time-based accommodations


Adjusts exam times individually for all students who have approved accommodations and communicates directly with students to inform them of any modifications to their exam.


Some students may experience barriers directly related to the oral exam format. If this is the case, students are requested to reach out to their Access Advisor for support.

Timed online assessment

(e.g. students have a 48-hour window to complete a 3-hour timed exam)



Informs instructors of student time-based accommodations


Adjusts exam times individually for all students who have approved accommodations and communicates directly with students to inform them of any modifications to their exam.

Take-home assessment (non-timed):

(e.g. students have 48 hours or more for completion)


No action necessary.

While other individual accommodations and occasional exceptions may still be required (and will be coordinated by OSD), time-based accommodations are by far the most prevalent and will require direct instructor involvement, based upon examination strategy.

What are some examples of how accommodations would be applied?


If I give a 3-hour assessment on myCourses that students have 48 hours to access, do time-based accommodations apply?

Yes. Since the assessment period is time-bound, time-based accommodations will apply, and you will have to manually adjust students’ access times within myCourses following receiving confirmation from the OSD Exam Centre of students’ accommodations.

If I give a take-home exam with a due date of 48 hours or more, do time-based accommodations apply?

No. Since you are giving an assessment period of 48 hours or more for the student to work at their own pace, time-based accommodations do not apply.

I expect that an online exam will take 2 hours for students to complete, but I am giving the entire class 3 hours to complete it (to help with technological issues that may arise). Do I still need to provide accommodations?

Yes. Many instructors have reached out to the OSD prior to an examination period about providing extra time to all students to allow them to deal with any technical issues that may arise during an online assessment. TLS also recommends that for open-book, timed exams, time should be added to the submission timeframe to allow for connectivity issues (a suggestion is 30 minutes). It is important to keep in mind that OSD-registered students may experience technical issues as well as barriers related to their disability.

Considering this possibility, students’ approved accommodations continue to be applied for any exam under 48 hours in duration. Doing so will ensure students' accommodations are consistent with legal requirements, even if all students are provided with extra time.

I expect that an exam will take 2 hours for students to complete, but I am giving the entire class 4 hours to complete it to allow for UDL or inclusive pedagogy principles. Do I still need to provide accommodations?

Note: There may be exceptions where individual time-based accommodations are still required.

I would like to use Respondus LockDown Browser in MyCourses for assessments. How does this impact students receiving accommodations?

Respondus LockDown Browser locks a student in a quiz on myCourses. Students cannot navigate away from the quiz and are unable to open a browser window or access files or software on their computer. For students with extra-time accommodations, this can be programmed as usual. However, if students require adaptive technology, the Lockdown Browser will inhibit them from accessing it.

Please communicate to your students at least 14 days in advance if you are using a LockDown Browser. Students that require adaptive technology will require an exemption from the LockDown Browser and will need to complete the exam sign-up form to apply. We will communicate a list of students requiring adaptive technology to you prior to the date of your assessment.

How do I provide an exemption from the Respondus LockDown Browser?

To provide individual students exemptions from the LockDown Browser, there are 2 options:

1) Manage exemptions using Respondus

  • Go to your course and then click on Quizzes.
  • Click the drop-down arrow next to the quiz you would like to give exemption to and then click Manage Exemptions.
  • Select the students you would like to give exemptions for and then click "Exempt"

2) Duplicate your quiz

  • Duplicate the quiz before setting up Respondus
  • Hide the duplicated quiz
  • Provide special access to the hidden quiz to the students who are exempt from the Lockdown Browser


What should I tell students to do if they experience technical difficulties during an online exam?

Instructors have been asked to include an additional 30 minutes in their submission timeframe to allow for connectivity issues. Students who encounter technical difficulties with submission during IT Support hours should contact IT. If a student experiences technical difficulties outside IT Support hours, they should itsupport [at] mcgill.ca (submit a ticket to the IT Service Desk), and copy their instructor to officially record the issue.

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