Using Zoom for Exam Invigilation

Zoom can be set-up for the purpose of invigilating online exams in real-time. There are specific settings that should be enabled/disabled for the Zoom meeting if it is used for invigilation purposes as opposed to an online lecture. This page details the steps that instructors should take to ensure that Zoom is properly set up for invigilation.


Communication to Students

The following note should be included in your exam invigilation instructions to students:

Exam Invigilation Instructions
This is an invigilated exam. You must turn on your camera and leave it on throughout the examination. You will be asked to hold up your student card for identification purposes, and an invigilator may also ask you to share your screen at any point during the exam.

Your privacy is important to us. The camera feed [insert if the session will/will not be recorded]. If you have any questions about how your privacy is protected while using Zoom, please consult with your instructor.

Recording Invigilation Sessions

Invigilation of exams may be recorded using cloud recordings only. Local recording is not permitted. There is a maximum of 25 video feeds that can be displayed per page in gallery view. Please refer to the recording a session section on how to start a cloud recording in Zoom. Make sure you review your cloud recording settings to ensure it will record in the correct format before the exam.

Important: Cloud recording is not available in breakout rooms; it is only available in the main room. If you need to record the session then you cannot use breakout rooms during the invigilation. The workaround is to create multiple Zoom meetings (with a TA in each) to break the students into smaller groups in replace of using breakout rooms. The individual Zoom meetings will need to be created by the TAs/Invigilators and they will be the Host of those sessions. (Note: you can only be part of one Zoom meeting at a given time and you cannot host multiple concurrent meetings, more details here.)

Roles & Permissions in Zoom

  • Host – dedicate one person to be the host who will be responsible for the following:
    • Set-up the Zoom meeting
    • Admit participants from the waiting room
    • Create and start breakout rooms
    • Oversee and manage the session during the exam

  • Important: Only one person can be assigned as the host per meeting.

  • Co-host: TAs/Invigilators/Instructors will stay in the breakout rooms and invigilate the students.
  • Participants – Students stay in the waiting room until they are admitted and assigned to a breakout room by the host.

Note: waiting room and breakout rooms can be enabled/disabled, depending on how you want your exam to be invigilated.


Steps for Setting Up Zoom for Exam Invigilation

Zoom Settings

You should review the default Zoom meeting settings set for your account. There are a couple settings that we recommend disabling/enabling for exam invigilation purposes. To access your Zoom Settings, log into Zoom at: Click on Settings from the left-hand menu.

Under the MEETING tab:

  • Chat: Under "By default, allow participants to chat with:" you can choose either "Everyone" if you want students to be able to send general messages to everyone, or "Hosts and co-hosts" if you want students to only be able to communicate with the Teaching Team.
  • Private chat: disable this option so participants cannot send a private message to another participant. Private messages are not visible to the host or co-host.
  • Always show meeting control toolbar: enable this option so you have access to the controls on the toolbar at all times.
  • Remote control: disable this option to prevent participants from controlling each other’s computer.
  • Virtual background: this setting applies to the Host only and not the participants. Include in your exam instructions that students should not be using virtual backgrounds during the exam.
  • Focus Mode: this setting causes participants to only see the video feed from the Host, Co-hosts, and Spotlighted participants, preventing them from seeing the video feeds of other participants. Focus Mode does not prevent participants from hearing each other’s audio or seeing reactions and Chat messages.

Under the RECORDING tab:

If you are recording the invigilation session, under the cloud recording setting, the following settings are recommended:

  • Record gallery view with shared screen. This will display the video feeds of the students in the recording
  • Save chat messages from the meeting/webinar
  • Add a timestamp to the recording
  • Display participants' names in the recording
  • Record thumbnails when sharing

Note: if you have more than 25 students, not all the video feeds will be displayed in the recording. Only 25 video feeds can be displayed on each "page" in gallery view, more details here.

Under the TELEPHONE tab:

  • Mask phone number in the participant list: enable this option so the phone numbers of the participants who join by dialing into the meeting do not appear to all other participants.

Note: Refer to UBC IT’s page on Zoom Privacy and Security Settings for additional recommendations on settings.

Zoom Profile

Check your Zoom profile to see what is the maximum meeting capacity you can hold in your meetings. To access your Zoom Profile, log into Zoom at: Click on Profile from the left-hand menu. Scroll down until you see Capacity. If you need to be able to host larger meetings, please contact

  1. Log into your Canvas course
  2. Click on the Zoom link from the left navigation menu.
  3. Click on Schedule a New Meeting button.
  4. Fill in all the meeting information. All the settings should be kept as default except for the following:
    • Topic: enter a name for your meeting
    • When: specify the date of the exam and the start time (set the start time to be at least 30 minutes before the exam start time to account for set-up and identity checks, more details below)
    • Duration: indicate how long the exam will be
    • Security: check the waiting room option
    • Meeting Options: check the "mute participants upon entry" option.
    • Alternative Hosts: if your TAs/Invigilators have UBC Zoom accounts, you can add them as alternative hosts so they automatically show up as co-hosts when they join the meeting.

    • Tip: this waiting room option can be used as a way to take attendance of who “attended” the exam. It also gives the host more control. The host will also know if anyone is late or left the session during the exam since the student will be in the waiting room, and the host can decide whether to admit them.

  1. Your meeting is now set up.

For large courses, instead of having all students join one session with multiple breakout rooms, create multiple Zoom meetings to break the students into smaller groups. For example, the Zoom meetings can be created by the Co-instructors/TAs/Invigilators and they will be the Host of those sessions. (Note: you can only be part of one Zoom meeting at a given time and you cannot host multiple concurrent meetings, more details here).

There are certain settings that can only be done within the meeting so it is recommended that the teaching team joins approx. 20 minutes before the exam start time.

3.1. Start the meeting and disable chat

  1. The host will need to start the Zoom meeting first.

    If this is your first-time using Zoom, you should download the Zoom desktop application. If you already have the application installed, click on Open when prompted to.

  2. Important: it is recommended that you use the Zoom desktop application instead of joining using the browser as the browser does not provide you with all the features.

  3. The host should disable the ability for participants to message everyone in the main room. Click on Chat from the bottom of the meeting screen and a chat window will appear on the right.

  4. Click on the three dots beside To: Everyone and check “Host only”.

  5. Tip: keeping the setting as host only allows students to still be able to message the host/co-hosts privately in the main room if they have questions or experience any issues.

    Important: the chat functionality in the breakout rooms is different from the main room
    • If the private chat option is disabled at the Zoom Meeting settings level (see Part 1), this will prevent students from privately messaging other students in the same breakout room during the exam (highly recommended). Private messages are not visible to the host/co-host.
    • If the general chat default is set to “Everyone,” students will be able to send public messages to everyone in breakout rooms. If it is set to “Hosts and co-hosts,” students will only be able to private message the host/co-hosts in the breakout room and are unable to send out messages to everyone.
    • You may want to provide students with an alternative way to contact the Instructor/TA (e.g. email, Canvas message, Piazza) outside of Zoom.

3.2. Make teaching team co-hosts

  1. The teaching team (Instructors/TAs/Invigilators) will join the meeting by clicking on Zoom within Canvas.
  2. After everyone joins, the Host needs to change everyone to “Co-hosts” (they join as “participants” by default). In the participant list, hover over the name > click on More > choose Make Co-Host. Repeat this for everyone in the teaching team. (You can have up to 50 co-hosts).

Tip: If the creator of the meeting assigned the TAs/Invigilators as alternative hosts in > Step 1, then they will automatically appear as co-hosts.

Students should join the meeting at least 15 minutes before the exam so the Host can assign them to breakout rooms.

  1. Students log into Canvas > clicks on Zoom from the course navigation and joins the meeting.
  2. Students will be directed to Zoom to connect to the meeting. If students join through the browser, they will be asked to enter their name. Ask students to use their surname and their preferred first name that they have on file with UBC when joining the meeting.

    If the “waiting room” feature is used, they will stay in the “waiting room” until the host/co-host(s) admits them. The student will see the following message when they are in the waiting room. This message can be customized by following the instructions here.

  3. Tip: change the message to something that is tailored to your course (e.g. exam instructions and guidelines or things that you want to remind students about). This is a good place to include the message at the top of this page under “Communication to Students”.

  4. The host/co-host will click on Participants at the bottom of the meeting screen to see a list of participants in the main room as well as the people in the waiting room.

    Students will appear in the order they join, with the first one on the list being the first to join. The host or co-hosts can click on Admit to admit the students individually or Admit all to admit everyone at once.

  5. Tip: If you are using the waiting room as a way to take attendance, you should decide with your teaching team who is/are the one responsible for admitting the students and taking attendance. Both the host and the co-host(s) can admit students.

    Identity Check 1: Match the students’ names in the waiting room with your class list.

  6. Once most of your students have joined the meeting, click on Breakout Rooms at the bottom of the meeting window.

  7. Indicate the number of breakout rooms you want to separate the students into and choose whether you want the students assigned Automatically (system assigns randomly) or Manually (host manually assigns)

  8. Tip: assigning automatically is useful for courses with lots of students. Assigning manually is useful if you want students from the same section/tutorial/lab to be in the same breakout room.

    Click on Create Breakout Rooms when you are ready to create the rooms

  9. You will then see a window that shows who is assigned to each breakout room. You can move participants to different breakout rooms by clicking on Move To or exchange participants between rooms by clicking on Exchange.

  10. Important: the co-hosts will also be assigned to the breakout rooms automatically. The system does not evenly distribute the co-host across the breakout rooms so you will need to review the people assigned and make adjustments by moving them around if needed.

  11. Click on Options at the bottom of the breakout room screen.

    • Automatically move all assigned participants into breakout rooms: check this option so participants are automatically moved to the breakout rooms once you “open” the breakout rooms.

    • Note: If this option is unchecked, students will receive a notification to join the breakout room on their screen and they will need to click on Join Breakout Room

    • Allow participants to return to the main session at any time: check this option so students can go to the main room and ask for help during the exam without interrupting other students in the breakout room.

    • Tip: Create extra empty breakout rooms by clicking on Add a Room. These extra breakout rooms can be used in situations where the invigilator wants the student to share their screen.

  12. Once you have confirmed that everything looks good, click on Open All Rooms and the students will be distributed to their assigned breakout room.

  13. If you have students who join after the breakout rooms have already started, the Host can manually assign them to a breakout room. The students will appear under Unassigned in the breakout room window.

    Click on Assign To beside the student you want to assign and select the breakout room you want to assign them to.

5.1 Monitoring the video feeds

On the upper right-hand corner of your Zoom window, switch to Gallery View to see the video feeds of all your students. Most computers should have the capacity to view up to 25 video feeds per page. Depending on your computer’s CPU (see requirements), you may be able to display more videos on additional pages.

Identity Check 2: Ask students to hold up their Student ID cards in the breakout room and cover the first four digits of their student number. Check it against the name in Zoom as well as your class list.

Alternatively, you can set up extra "empty" breakout rooms and the Host can move students to that room for ID check and then move them back into their breakout room.

If you have participants who forgot to turn on their videos, you can request that they turn it on by clicking More beside their name and choose Ask to start video. The student will receive a notification from their end.

Identity Check 3: Download your class list from the Faculty Service Centre (FSC) that includes the students’ profile picture and match it against the video feed.

Tip: If everyone’s audio is on, it can be distracting. You can ask students to turn off their audio and periodically ask them to turn it on to detect any abnormal noises happening in the background.

5.2 Request for screen sharing

If an invigilator wants to ask a student to share their screen sometime in the middle of the exam, the co-host will need to contact the host using a method outside of Zoom (when the co-host is in the breakout room, they are unable to message the host in the main room). The host will temporarily move the student out of the breakout room to an “empty” breakout room and ask the student to share their screen. If you are planning to do this, the empty breakout room must be created before you “open all rooms”.

To move a student, the host will click on Breakout Rooms from the meeting window. Then click on “Move To” beside the student’s name and select the “empty” breakout room.

5.3 Ending the breakout room

Once students finish their exams, they can leave the breakout room by clicking on the Leave button at the bottom of the meeting window and then click Leave Meeting.

Tip: The Host can broadcast messages to all the breakout groups. The broadcast message will appear in a blue bar at the top of the meeting window temporarily and then disappears. You can use this to let all the students know when to start the exam or provide periodic updates on the time remaining. To send a broadcast message, click on the breakout rooms icon and click on "broadcast a message to all".

Important: The invigilator should stay in the breakout room until all students have left the session. If an invigilator accidentally leaves the breakout room, they can rejoin but the Host will need to admit them and re-assign them back to the breakout room.


Additional Considerations

Instructor Constraints Student Constraints
If Zoom is used for exam invigilation, it would be difficult to identify where the noise is coming from if all the students have their audio enabled. Students need to have a webcam and microphone if Zoom is used for invigilation purposes.
The video quality is unpredictable and is dependent on internet connection. The video feed on Zoom can be blurry and pixelated if there is poor connection. When joining a session using the web client (e.g. joining from your browser), certain browsers do not support all the features in Zoom. The recommended browser is Chrome (see this link for details on what is supported)
Anyone who has the meeting join URL will be able to join the session.


  • You can create up to 100 breakout rooms for any number of participants.
    • This will apply for all breakout room types, including 'Pre-Assign' and 'Self-Select' breakout rooms.
    • Note: If you expect to have 300-1000 participants, you will still need to request for a large meeting add-on, regardless of if you are using breakout rooms or not.
  • Do a practice run by scheduling a Zoom meeting with your class before the exam so students know what to expect and can resolve any technical difficulties beforehand.
  • Have a contingency plan in place for students who do not have a webcam or experience technical difficulties with joining the meeting.

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