It is inevitable search engines such as Google will be allowed in public examinations, including GCSEs and A-Levels, the head of an exam board says.
OCR chief Mark Dawe told the Today programme allowing internet use in exam rooms reflected the way pupils learned and how they would work in future.
He said students would still need a basis of knowledge and would have limited time to conduct searches.
The Campaign for Real Education condemned the idea as "dumbing down".
Mr Dawe said: "Surely when they learn in the classroom, everyone uses Google if there is a question.
"It is more about understanding what results you're seeing rather than keeping all of that knowledge in your head, because that's not how the modern world works."
He compared the idea to the debate about whether to have books available during a test, saying: "In reality you didn't have too much time [to consult the book] and you had to learn it anyway."
Mr Dawe suggested some exams may allow internet access and others may not.
He told the Today programme: "It's about understanding the tools they have got available and how to utilise them.
"When we are asking a question where we know there's access to the internet, we could ask a different question - it's about the interpretation, the discussion."
On the issue of when internet use might be allowed in exams, Mr Dawe said: "It's very unlikely to happen in the next few weeks or next few months, but it's certainly inevitable, I would suggest."
Chris McGovern, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "We have a crisis in standards in this country.
"We are three years behind the Chinese, at the age of 15.
"We have got universities running remedial courses.
"We have got employers saying too many youngsters are unemployable."
He added: "You can have an exam in how to use Google - that's not the same thing as having a history exam or a geography exam.
"We do have to test what children are carrying in their heads".