There are several different ways that professors ensure that an online student is not cheating come exam time. The first is through a webcam—professors will require that you position a webcam in a particular position so that they can see what you are doing at all times. They want to make sure you aren't flipping through any textbooks to get the answer. Another technique that professors use is the "timed test" technique. With his technique the test is taken completely online, but you only have a few seconds to answer each question, thus you theortically do not have enough time to flip through a textbook. The most popular format however is the proctored exam. Here, an outside source monitors you at some sort of testing center to ensure that no funny business occurs. Usually if your online school as a brick and mortar building near by a student will take their tests there. However, if this is not the case a student is usually required to find their own pre-approved proctor and site for examinations. But how?
As required by some online schools, you will most likely have to find an approved proctor as early as the end of your second week of the semester. In order to avoid any conflict of interest, usually a proctor cannot be a family member, friend, neighbor, or coworker. In short, if you know this person on a personal level, he or she will not be approved. Typically, online schools favor librarians from local libraries or high schools, an officer of higher rank than the student (if the student is in the military for example), or an employee who works for testing sites. A list of testing sites and employees around the country can be found here.
In addition, a proctor must also have access to all of the following: Internet, printer and fax machine. They must also have a working phone number and email address in order to communicate with the online school. Once you think you've found a candidate you will need to get the proctor approved by completing a form and sending it to your online school. Take note even if you get your proctor approved, their services usually don't come free. On average, a proctor usually charges $30 for a 3 hour block of time. Sometimes this cost is factored into your total tuition costs, sometimes it is not. So be prepared to pay out of pocket on exam day.