tools for tas

19 May 2013

When proctoring an exam, a friendly TA understands that part of the duty is to regularly update students on the time remaining in their sitting. This is not a particularly difficult task — and it provides a nice diversion from the boredom associated with watching a group of people sit still for hours at a time — however there is some nuance in deciding just how often to issue time updates: too often and students are distracted; too rarely and they are anxious.

To avoid these complications, many proctors pull up an online stopwatch and let it count down, so that students know exactly how much time is left, and there are no interruptions due to noisy chalkboard use. This has the downside of plastering the room's projection screen with distracting advertisements, and additionally generally has the anxiety-inducing feature of showing students how much time is left down to the millisecond.

Clearly an improvement is in order; below are some tools which offer the features of noiseless, accurate updating but in a more zen manner.

Tips for use:

By using the browser's full-screen capability and zooming in so that only the time remaining is visible, you ensure a peaceful, anxiety-reducing presentation of the amount of time remaining in the exam.

countdown to time

Use this section to count down to a predefined time. Unless the suffix "am" or "pm" is added, the input will assume the time is entered according to a 24-hour clock; i.e., "3:00pm" is 3:00 in the afternoon, while "3:00" is 3:00 in the morning and "15:00" is 3:00 in the afternoon.

End at:

countdown minutes

Use this section to count down a prespecified number of minutes.


All included LaTeX graphics are generated at LaTeX to png .

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