eClass Support
Knowledgebase: Online Assessment
Troubleshooting SEM Issues - Students
Last modified on 13 February 2024 02:42 PM

This article will assist students if they are having issues launching an exam monitoring session using Smart Exam Monitor (SEM). This tool is often used as a requirement to validate remote exam submissions by providing webcam and screen recordings of student completing online exams. For basic instructions for using SEM please view Using Smart Exam Monitor (For Students).

Please note: if you are currently attempting to write an exam and are experiencing difficulty, please contact your instructor immediately to advise them of the situation before trying any of the steps below as they may be able to provide assistance and/or provide a time extension on the exam for you.

General Troubleshooting

Good first steps in trying to resolve any issues are:

  1. Ensure that your Chrome is up to date:

    • Click the Chrome dropdown menu > About Chrome. Then click Update (or re-launch):

  2. Clear your Chrome browser cache:

    • Click the Chrome dropdown menu > Clear Browsing Data. Then select 

  3. Restart your Chrome browser, then your entire machine, and then try again.


  • The timer is already running prior to the start of an exam

This is normal function - the timer will count down to the designated start time at which point the exam will launch and/or students will be provided with any instructions required for beginning their exam.


  • The monitoring session is going to end before my exam is complete

Students can extend their monitoring session by clicking Add time at the top right.


Troubleshooting Specific SEM Issues 

  • There is no 'Take Exam' button

When exam session descriptions are longer and a user has a small display size, the Take Exam button can sometimes be off-screen. Students can use the Chrome Zoom Out feature to shrink the text until it is visible:

Pointing to the Zoom Out function in Chrome in order to shrink the page and show the Take Exam button

  • Screensharing fails to launch or throws an error

Students can follow these instructions to ensure that they have provided the correct system permissions for SEM to share and record their screen. Also note that you must click on the icon of your full screen for the Share button to become active. Sharing Other applications or specific Chrome tabs is not compatible with SEM.

If you are using a Mac and the error message "Could not start screen capture please try again" is displayed, especially if you have previously used SEM without issue and the permissions have been set correctly, update Chrome to 99.0.4844.83 (effective March 23, 2022).

However, if you are stuck on the old version of Chrome prior to the date above, then you may need to disable and re-enable screen recording permission using the following steps:

- Open System Preferences
- Open Security and Privacy
- Scroll down to Screen Recording
- Disable Screen Recording for Chrome
- Quit and re-open Chrome
- Re-enable Screen Recording for Chrome
- Restart SEM 

  • SEM shows a blank screen

Some 3rd party Chrome browser extensions block SEM from operating. Any (or all) Chrome extensions can be disabled by going to chrome://extensions/ and toggling the Enabled slider for each extension. Chrome and SEM can then be re-started.


  • SEM permissions aren't correctly granted for audio and webcam

Follow these instructions to make sure the microphone and camera are both given permission in the MacOS or Windows system settings.

Please note: If the microphone does not have system access, it may prevent the camera from being detected by SEM. This can be an issue with Windows computers. Please make sure that if there is an option to give Desktop Apps access to the microphone, that should be toggled on as shown below:

It may also be necessary for students to fully clear their browser cache in Chrome and re-launch SEM to ensure the correct access is granted.

A quick step to review the audio and video permissions for a page is by clicking the lock icon at the left edge of the Chrome URL bar:


  • SEM Video feed is blank

If the video feed is blank, the permissions have been correctly granted, and the correct device is selected and the video still won't load, a full machine restart may also be required to solve this issue as the frequent use of other tools (eg. Zoom) that use the webcam can impact use by other applications. 

  • (Mac) Screen recording still fails despite correct permissions

You can to go the Security & Privacy settings, locate Google Chrome in the Screen Recording list, and click on Chrome, ensure that it is highlighted in blue as shown below. Then click the Minus button to remove Chrome. Then reload SEM and ensure that you allow the Screen Recording permission to resolve the issue. 

  • SEM Audio check does not complete

If the audio check spins and never completes, users can do a hard refresh ctrl-F5 (PC) or cmd+shift+R (Mac) to clear the SEM page cache and re-launch. On Mac, a full machine restart may also be required to solve this issue as the frequent use of other tools (eg. Zoom) that use the microphone can impact use by other applications. Students should also verify that they have not inadvertently muted their microphone.


  • The exam window says "Please maximize this window" but nothing is happening, even though it's maximized

Make sure that Chrome does not have any pending updates by clicking on the settings dots in the top right corner, then Help, then About Google Chrome. Update and relaunch Chrome if required.

Windows: Make sure your taskbar is on the bottom of your screen. If it's not, right-click on it and make sure "Lock the taskbar" is unchecked, then drag (from any space that isn't an icon) the taskbar to the bottom of the screen. Or, search Windows settings for "taskbar settings" and change the taskbar location from there


Make sure your dock is on the bottom of your screen, you can change its location by going to Apple menu -> System Preferences ->Dock & Menu bar. In the same settings, add a checkmark to "Automatically hide and show the menu bar in full screen":

dock menu

In macOS 14.x Sonoma, you must also hide the top menu bar. You can find the setting in the Apple menu > System Settings, then click Control Center in the sidebar. Scroll down to the  Menu Bar Only section > Automatically hide and show the menu bar and set the dropdown to Always.

  • Problems with maximizing window for 2021 and later Macbook Pros with a screen notch around the camera:

Chrome must be configured to be full screen without the camera notch. To do this: make sure Google Chrome is completely shut down by selecting "Quit" from under the file menu; go to your Applications folder (under the Go menu in finder or pressing CMD-Shift-A); find Google Chrome; right-click on the app icon and select "get info"; check the setting "Scale to fit below built-in camera."; then relaunch and restart the SEM setup process.

dock menu

  • SEM Crashes when used in conjunction with ExamLock

If SEM has been setup correctly and appears to function correctly but then crashes when ExamLock is launched, students must ensure they are using Google Chrome. SEM will function with MS Edge but not if used in combination with ExamLock.

  • General connectivity issues

Ensure that you have a stable internet connection. If you are out of region and require a VPN service, contact IST through the U of A Service Portal available on the Staff Service Centre and the Student Service Centre webpages. If you are using a VPN service, you may try disabling it.



(145 vote(s))
Not helpful

Comments (0)