How Does Distance Learning Exams Work?

Picture this, you are a student in South Africa, and you are eager to learn, but life’s demands keep you from attending a traditional classroom. That is where distance learning comes to the rescue, offering you the freedom to study on your terms. 

And when it comes to distance learning, Skills Academy is your trusted companion. In this article, we will have a closer look at how distance learning exams work, and we will explore the different types of exams that make this education journey exciting.

What Are The Different Types Of Distance Learning Courses?

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty details of distance learning exams, first start with the basics. Distance learning exams come in various forms to suit different learning styles. Throughout this article, A breakdown of these different exam types will be discussed, showing you how they function. From those multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge to the hands-on practical assessments that evaluate your real-world skills, distance learning exams have got it all. 

So, get started on this journey to discover how it all works, and how Skills Academy makes it all possible.

NATED Courses

These courses cover a range of technical and vocational courses, providing students with industry-specific skills and knowledge. Here is a list of the NATED courses we provide through distance learning:

ICB Courses (Institute of Certified Bookkeepers)

Matric Courses

Equivalent to Grade 12, these courses are a critical part of South Africa’s education system, and Skills Academy offers Matric courses through distance learning.

Are There Specific Exams For Online Courses?

As you explore distance learning with Skills Academy, a common question arises: Do online courses have their own unique set of examinations? This question applies to each of the courses Skills Academy offers, including NATED, ICB, and Matric. 

Do Distance Learning Exams Include Practical Assessments?

Yes, some distance learning exams include practical assessments. This is especially true for courses that involve technical skills, such as ICB courses and NATED courses. For example, the Technical Financial Accounting: ICB National Diploma includes a formative assessment that students must complete. With the NATED diploma courses, students need to also complete 18 months of work experience.

How To Prepare For An Exam?

Distance learning exams with practical assessments can be challenging, but they are not impossible to pass. By following the tips, you can increase your chances of success on your next distance learning exam:

  • Review the course material carefully. Make sure you understand the key concepts and that you can apply them to real-world situations
  • Practice completing the practical assessment. You can find practice assessments online or in your course materials
  • Ask your lecturer for help if you are struggling with the practical assessment
  • Get a good night’s sleep before the exam
  • Arrive at the exam early so that you have time to relax and focus

How Do Distance Learning Exams Work For ICB Courses And NATED In South Africa At Skills Academy?

Distance learning exams for ICB and NATED courses at Skills Academy are typically proctored and online. This means that a human or computer will be monitoring you while you take the exam.

ICB Courses

For the ICB courses, you will need to be registered for your exams on the ICB official student portal. Studying with Skills Academy allows you to learn flexibly through distance learning, and this will allow you to write your exams online as well through ICB.

Here is what you need to know for the ICB exams as a distance learning student:

  • You will need to register for your ICB exams on the student portal
  • Your exams can either be online or paper-based at one of the ICB venues
  • As a student you will need to complete a portfolio of evidence (PoE) this will be available through MACCI
  • Each student will need to complete 3 assignments and 2 tests that will be needed for the portfolio of evidence

NATED Courses

NATED Courses has three different levels, starting at N4 and ending with N6. After a student has completed the N6 diploma course, they will first have to complete 18 months of work experience that will be recorded towards earning their diploma.

Here is what students will have to complete:

  • Assessments: You will need to complete three assessments for each subject, these assessments will need to pass with a minimum of 50%
  • Exams: You will be required to complete two examinations, one internal and one external exam for each subject

Are Professional Certification Exams Proctored?

Yes, professional certification exams are typically proctored. This is because professional certification exams are used to assess a person’s skills and knowledge in a particular field, and proctoring helps to ensure that the exams are administered fairly and that there is no cheating.

Distance learning exams for ICB and NATED courses at Skills Academy are typically proctored with some available online, while others need to be taken at exam centres.

How Do I Prepare For A Distance Learning Exam?

Some unique challenges come with taking distance learning exams. For example, you may not have the opportunity to interact with your instructor or classmates in person, and you may have to rely on your motivation and discipline to stay on track. Additionally, distance learning exams are often proctored, which can add an extra layer of stress.

Despite these challenges, there are several things you can do to prepare for and pass your distance learning exams. By following the tips in this article, you can increase your chances of success and achieve your educational goals.

What Is The Recommended Study Schedule For Exam Preparation?

The recommended study schedule for exam preparation will vary depending on the length and complexity of the exam, as well as your learning style and preferences. However, there are some general tips that you can follow:

Start earlyGive yourself plenty of time to review the course material and practice answering questions
Create a study schedule
  • Break down the material you need to cover into manageable chunks
  • Schedule time to study each chunk 
  • Be sure to schedule breaks and time for other activities, such as eating, sleeping, and socialising
Stick to your study schedule
  • It is important to be disciplined and stick to your study schedule
  • This will help you to stay on track and avoid feeling overwhelmed

How Can I Create An Effective Study Plan For Distance Learning Exams?

To create an effective study plan for distance learning exams, follow these steps:

  • Review The Course Syllabus: The course syllabus will tell you what topics will be covered on the exam
  • Identify Your Learning Style: Are you a visual learner, an auditory learner, or a kinaesthetic learner? Once you know your learning style, you can choose the study methods that are most effective for you
  • Break Down The Material Into Manageable Chunks: Break the material down into smaller chunks and schedule time to study each chunk, instead of cramming everything into one long study session
  • Create A Study Schedule: Your study schedule should include time to review the course material, practice answering questions, and take breaks
  • Stick To Your Study Schedule: It is important to be disciplined and stick to your study schedule. This will help you to stay on track and avoid feeling overwhelmed

How To Get A Good Grade On A Distance Learning Exam?

Getting a good grade on a distance learning exam can be challenging, but it is possible. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of success:

  • Start Early
  • Create A Study Plan
  • Review The Course Material Actively
  • Practice Answering Questions
  • Take Care Of Yourself Physically And Mentally

Create A Study Plan

Break down the course material into manageable chunks and schedule time to study each chunk. Be sure to schedule breaks and time for other activities, such as eating, sleeping, and socialising.

Review The Course Material Actively

Do not just passively read your notes and textbooks. Try to summarise the key concepts in your own words, create flashcards, or develop practice questions. You can also use active learning strategies such as teaching the material to someone else or creating a diagram or mind map to help you visualise the concepts.

Practice Answering Questions

The more practice you get, the better prepared you will be for the exam. Try to find practice questions that are similar to the format of the questions that will be on the exam. You can find practice questions in your textbooks, on the Skills Academy website, or online.

Take Care Of Yourself Physically And Mentally

Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly. This will help you to stay focused and alert on the day of the exam. On the day of the exam, be sure to arrive early and relax. 

Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that you have prepared for this exam. Read the instructions carefully and budget your time wisely. If you get stuck on a question, skip it and come back to it later. And most importantly, do not panic. 

If you stay calm and focused, you will be well on your way to getting a good grade on your distance learning exam.

How Can I Improve My Exam-Taking Skills?

Preparing for exams can be challenging, especially in the context of distance learning. To help you navigate the process effectively, we have gathered some valuable tips on enhancing your exam-taking skills. Whether you are preparing for NATED, ICB, or Matric exams, these strategies will make a significant difference in your performance.

Here are some tips on how to improve your exam-taking skills:

  • Practice Under Timed Conditions
  • Identify Your Strengths And Weaknesses
  • Develop A Test-Taking Routine
  • Use Positive Self-Talk

Practice Under Timed Conditions

Practising under timed conditions is a fundamental step to success. It helps you become accustomed to the time pressure of exams. You can find practice exams online or in your textbooks, which mimic the actual exam conditions. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will be during the real test.

Identify Your Strengths And Weaknesses

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is key to targeted improvement. If you tend to rush through exams, take a moment to slow down and think. If time management is an issue, consider using a timer to stay on track. Focusing on areas where you need improvement will help you perform better.

Develop A Test-Taking Routine

Establishing a test-taking routine can alleviate exam anxiety. This routine might include reviewing your notes, taking deep breaths before starting and marking challenging questions for review. Consistency in your approach will make you feel more confident on exam day.

Use Positive Self-Talk

Positive self-talk is a powerful tool. Remind yourself that you are well-prepared and capable of excelling in the exam. This mindset can boost your confidence and reduce anxiety, helping you perform at your best.

How To Access Digital Resources For Studying?

There are different ways to access digital resources for studying at Skills Academy.  Even though we provide you with resources you can also source more that are available online. Here are a few tips:

Use the Skills Academy online learning platformThe Skills Academy online learning platform provides access to a variety of digital resources and past exam papers
Search for online resourcesThere are several websites and online courses that offer free or low-cost educational resources
Use a library
  • Many libraries offer access to digital resources, such as e-books and online journals
  • You can also use a library to borrow textbooks and other physical resources

What Are Some Tips For Taking A Distance Learning Exam?

Taking a distance learning exam might seem like a daunting task, but with the right strategies, you can approach it with confidence. In this section, we will provide you with valuable tips that apply to NATED, ICB, and Matric courses with Skills Academy, and that can significantly improve your exam performance. 

From time management techniques to strategies for tackling different question types, we have got you covered.

Some Tips For Taking A Distance Learning Exam

Online exams come with unique challenges, and a well-prepared strategy can make all the difference. Here are some tips to help you excel in your online exams:

  • Read Instructions Carefully
  • Manage Your Environment
  • Time Management
  • Use Scratch Paper
  • Answer Easy Questions First
  • Stay Calm
  • Review Your Work

Read Instructions Carefully

Start by carefully reading all the instructions provided for the exam. Understand the format, any time limits, and how to submit your answers. Each exam may have specific requirements, and overlooking them can lead to unnecessary errors.

Manage Your Environment

Creating a serene and distraction-free exam environment is critical. Make sure your computer and internet connection are stable, and kindly let your family or housemates know that you are taking an exam. This can help minimise disruptions during your exam.

Time Management

Time management is the cornerstone of successful online exam-taking. Know how much time you have for each section or question and stick to it. If you get stuck on a question, move on and come back to it later. Setting a timer can help you stay on track, ensuring you do not run out of time.

Use Scratch Paper

If permitted, using scratch paper for rough work and calculations is a smart move. It is much easier to work through complex problems on paper and transfer the final answers neatly to your exam, avoiding any calculation errors.

Answer Easy Questions First

Starting with the questions you find easiest is a confidence-boosting technique. This ensures that you secure the marks for the simpler questions and manage your time more effectively.

Stay Calm

If you encounter a difficult question, do not panic. Take a deep breath, move on to the next question, and return to it later if time allows. Stress can significantly affect your performance, so staying calm is vital.

Review Your Work

If you have time at the end of the exam, review your answers. Check for errors, incomplete responses, or misinterpretations of questions. This final review can make a difference in your final result. This can help ensure you do not lose marks due to small oversights.

How To Answer Multiple Choice Questions Correctly On A Distance Learning Exam?

Multiple choice questions are a common format for distance learning exams. These exams have a certain format, where a question is given and there are multiple answers provided. From your knowledge, you would have to choose the correct one. Here are a few tips on how to answer multiple-choice questions correctly:

  • Read the question carefully and make sure you understand what the question is asking
  • Eliminate the wrong answers by reading each answer choice and try to eliminate the ones that you know are wrong. This will leave you with a smaller number of answer choices to choose from
  • Pay attention to keywords in the question and answer choices. Look for keywords that are repeated in the question and answer choices. This can help you to identify the correct answer choice
  • If you are unsure of the answer, mark the question for review. You can come back to the question later if you have time
  • Do not second-guess yourself. Once you have chosen an answer, stick with it. Changing your answer at the last minute is more likely to lead to a mistake

How To Study For Multiple-Choice Questions?

Before you take any exam, it is best to prepare for it. Here are some additional tips for answering multiple-choice questions correctly for your exam:

  • Review the course material carefully before taking your exam. Make sure you have a good understanding of the key concepts
  • Practice answering multiple-choice questions, if none are available use apps that can generate such questionnaires
  • Use the process of elimination to your advantage. If you are unsure of the answer to a question, try to eliminate the wrong answers. This will leave you with a smaller number of answer choices to choose from
  • Do not be afraid to guess if you have to. If you are stuck on a question, and you do not have time to come back to it later, make an educated guess

How To Eliminate Incorrect Options In Multiple-Choice Questions?

Here are some tips on how to eliminate incorrect options in multiple-choice questions in the exams:

Look for answer choices that are too broad or too narrow
  • The correct answer choice should be specific and accurate
  • If an answer choice is too broad or too narrow, it is likely to be incorrect
Look for answer choices that contain absolutes or qualifiers such as “always,” “never,” or “all.”Absolute and qualified statements are more likely to be incorrect than statements that allow for some exceptions
Look for answer choices that contain grammatical errors.
  • The correct answer choice should be grammatically correct
  • If an answer choice contains a grammatical error, it is likely to be incorrect
Look for answer choices that are similar to each otherIf two answer choices are very similar, one of them is likely to be incorrect
Use your knowledge of the course material to eliminate incorrect answer choicesIf you know the course material well, you should be able to eliminate incorrect answer choices that are based on false or incorrect information

What Are The Benefits And Challenges Of Distance Learning Exams?

In the world of education, distance learning exams present a fascinating blend of advantages and challenges. They have become a cornerstone of modern education, but understanding their intricacies is key to making the most of your journey in NATED, ICB, or Matric courses with Skills Academy. 

In this section, you will cover the benefits that come with distance learning exams, unravelling how they can shape your educational experience. Distance learning exams have garnered attention for a variety of compelling reasons. Here is a closer look at their benefits:

  • Flexibility at its finest
  • Tailored for you
  • No commute, unless otherwise specified
  • Abundance of resources
  • Cost savings
  • An increase in self-discipline and time management

How Does Distance Learning Offer Flexibility In Exam Scheduling?

Flexibility is one promising factor of distance learning when it comes to scheduling exams. You can view the exam dates and choose the date and time you feel will accommodate your schedule. Here is a closer look at how distance learning makes your exam schedule bend to your will:

  • Self-Set Exam Dates
  • No Geographic Constraints
  • Customised Study Rhythm
  • Reducing Exam Stress

Self-Set Exam Dates

With distance learning, you are not bound by set exam dates. Instead, you get to choose the date and time that is available from a calendar created for students. These exam calendars are typically released early to ensure students are well-prepared for their exams. 

No Geographic Constraints

Traditional exams often tether you to a specific location. Distance learning breaks these chains. As long as you have a reliable internet connection, you can sit for your exams from virtually anywhere. 

Even so, online learning has its own rules and regulations that will ensure that no cheating is possible. So you might have to prepare an exam setting of your own, using a webcam, lighting and other measures provided by exam guidelines. 

Customised Study Rhythm

We all have our unique study rhythms. Some of us prefer exams at early time schedules, and others might prefer the latest time available. Distance learning acknowledges these differences. You are free to choose when you are most productive and schedule your exams accordingly. It is like taking a test when you are at your intellectual peak.

Reducing Exam Stress

Traditional exams often bring anxiety due to fixed dates and locations. Distance learning removes this pressure. You approach your exams with a sense of control and a calmer mindset. It is like turning a high-pressure event into a manageable milestone, significantly reducing stress.

What Are The Challenges Of Distance Learning Exams?

While distance learning exams offer a wealth of benefits, they are not without their share of challenges. It is crucial to understand and address these potential hurdles:

  • Isolation
  • Self-discipline
  • Technical Issues
  • Time Management
  • Self-assessment
  • Limited Practical Experience


The absence of face-to-face interaction with instructors and fellow students can lead to feelings of isolation. Distance learning can sometimes be a solitary journey, and it is vital to find ways to stay connected and seek help.


The freedom to set your schedule can be a double-edged sword. It places the responsibility of time management squarely on your shoulders. Without self-discipline, procrastination can become a formidable adversary. Staying motivated and adhering to a structured study plan is crucial to overcome this challenge.

Technical Issues

A stable internet connection and access to the necessary technology are fundamental to distance learning. Technical issues can disrupt your study and exam-taking experience, making it vital to address such problems promptly and have contingency plans in place.

With Skills Academy we deliver your study materials for this reason. You will not need to use the internet as frequently unless you need to upload any assessments or interact with tutors and peers. 

Time Management

While flexibility is an advantage, it can also lead to time mismanagement. Poor time management can result in last-minute exam cramming and rushed preparation. Developing effective time management skills is essential to navigate this challenge.


In a traditional classroom, instructors provide constant feedback on your progress. In distance learning, you often have to become your assessor. This means accurately evaluating your understanding and progress, which can be a learning curve in itself.

However, with Skills Academy we make sure to track our students’ progress and provide feedback on where they need improvement. This allows you to target the areas you fall short on.

Limited Practical Experience

Some courses, particularly those with hands-on components, might lack the practical experience you would gain in a traditional classroom. It is important to supplement your distance learning with practical application whenever possible.

Overcoming these challenges requires a proactive approach for example the following:

  • Staying connected with your support network
  • Creating a structured study routine
  • Addressing technical issues promptly
  • Actively self-assessing your progress

Approaching these challenges can significantly enhance your distance learning experience. In the end, distance learning is a journey of personal growth, knowledge acquisition, and adaptation to a unique and rewarding educational experience.

How Do I Get My Results From A Distance Learning Exam?

To get your results from a distance learning exam, you will need to log in to the platform you write your exams on or contact the institution if your exam was at a venue. Your exam results will be available as soon as they have been reviewed. 

How Long Does It Typically Take To Receive Exam Results?

The duration for exam results varies depending on the courses you take. For example, if you completed your matric exam, your exam results could be released in January or even later in the year depending on when you sat for the exam. 

ICB will provide the dates of when your results are available, you will then need to login to the portal and access the results online. There is also an option for them to email you with an attachment of your exam results. 

Can I Retake A Distance Learning Exam If I Fail It?

Yes, you can retake distance learning exams if you fail it. However, there are some restrictions. You may only be able to retake an exam a certain number of times, and you will be charged a fee to retake the exam.

The re-examination policies for online courses vary depending on the course. To find out the re-examination policy for a specific course, you can consult the course syllabus or contact your instructor.

Here is a general overview of the re-examination policies for online courses at Skills Academy:

  • You may only retake an exam at certain dates or periods (semesters)
  • You will be charged a fee to retake the exam. The fee will vary depending on the course
  • You must request a retake 

If you are considering retaking an exam, it is important to carefully consider the pros and cons. Retaking an exam can be a good way to improve your grade and pass the course. However, it is also important to keep in mind that retaking an exam can be time-consuming and expensive.

Here are some things to consider before retaking an exam:

  • Why did you fail the exam in the first place? Did you not study enough? Did you not understand the material? Once you know why you failed, you can develop a plan to address those issues
  • How much time and money do you have to invest in retaking the exam? Retaking an exam can require a significant amount of time and money. Make sure that you are prepared to make this investment
  • What is the re-examination policy for the course? Some courses have strict re-examination policies, while others are more flexible. Make sure that you understand the re-examination policy before you decide to retake the exam

People Also Ask

Distance learning involves accessing educational material and instruction online, allowing students to study remotely at their own pace or through scheduled online classes.

Effective time management is essential when taking a distance learning exam. Start by thoroughly understanding the exam’s format and time limits. Allocate specific time for each section and question, and stick to your schedule. Use a timer to keep track and ensure you do not spend too long on a single question.

Distance learning is beneficial for its flexibility and accessibility, ideal for self-motivated learners with good access to technology, but may not suit those who prefer in-person interaction.

Distance learning may not always involve traditional classes. Instead, it can include self-paced study with materials like recorded lectures, readings, and assignments, allowing students to learn independently without real-time instruction.

Author: Angela Mouton
Editor: Connor Bergsma
Date Published: February 1, 2024

Last Updated: 1 February 2024



Contact us

Click the button to complete a form and we will contact you to help with any queries you might have