University Exams Online: Ask your Questions here!

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04MR17
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There's been a lot of questions here recently in the wake of the Covid-19 and universities announcing changes to their planned summer exams, in some cases with a move to online exams.

It's important to check whether your university has said they are doing this, as not all of them have announced closures extending that far in advance. :yep:

For institutions that have announced they're moving to digital assessments in place of traditional exams, most will not have had opportunity to provide any detail about what this means and how each subject is affected.

LeapingLucy and I have both taken modules with online exam components before at university, and we thought it would be a good idea to set up this thread to give you the opportunity to ask questions about how it worked for us.

So, ask away.


Note #1: Please don't assume that our experiences over the last couple of years are going to be the same as the planned alterations for this summer's exams.
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Anonymous #1
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In your case, were online exams more like essay questions or multiple choice? And what subject did you study?
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Anonymous #2
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(Original post by 04MR17)
There's been a lot of questions here recently in the wake of the Covid-19 and universities announcing changes to their planned summer exams, in some cases with a move to online exams.

It's important to check whether your university has said they are doing this, as not all of them have announced closures extending that far in advance. :yep:

For institutions that have announced they're moving to digital assessments in place of traditional exams, most will not have had opportunity to provide any detail about what this means and how each subject is affected.

LeapingLucy and I have both taken modules with online exam components before at university, and we thought it would be a good idea to set up this thread to give you the opportunity to ask questions about how it worked for us.

So, ask away.


Note #1: Please don't assume that our experiences over the last couple of years are going to be the same as the planned alterations for this summer's exams.
Was it harder than an in person exam? Do people cheat? How do they prevent people from cheating?
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LeapingLucy
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(Original post by Anonymous)
In your case, were online exams more like essay questions or multiple choice? And what subject did you study?
For me, it was an essay-based exam. I study History and Politics, and it was a history module.

The essay questions were posted online at 12pm on a Tuesday, and we had until 12pm Thursday that week to write and submit two 2000 word essays.
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LeapingLucy
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Was it harder than an in person exam? Do people cheat? How do they prevent people from cheating?
I wouldn't say it was harder, just that it was different.

On the one hand, it was easier, because I didn't have to memorise loads of details - I obviously had to be familiar enough with the course content to write essays about it, but I could check and re-read my notes during the exam.

The difficult part was, I think, getting on with it. I'm quite a big procrastinator, so sitting in an exam hall with a one-hour deadline per essay and no distractions works well for me - there's no time to prevaricate, you just have to write.

At home, with 48 hours to complete the two essays, I had to really push myself not to get distracted - so I logged out of TSR and all social media, and deleted the Guardian off my phone.

Regarding cheating, with essay subjects how would someone cheat, really? I suppose theoretically you could pay someone else to produce the essays for you, but if that person hasn't been studying the same module all year, and getting practice at writing the kind of essays expected, are they really likely to be able to produce better work than you?
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by LeapingLucy)
For me, it was an essay-based exam. I study History and Politics, and it was a history module.

The essay questions were posted online at 12pm on a Tuesday, and we had until 12pm Thursday that week to write and submit two 2000 word essays.
Wow! 2 whole days!

Do you think that might be the case this time round with universities (maybe not as long as 48 hours), since a lot of students have decided to go back to their home countries and there'd be differences with timings?
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by LeapingLucy)
I wouldn't say it was harder, just that it was different.

On the one hand, it was easier, because I didn't have to memorise loads of details - I obviously had to be familiar enough with the course content to write essays about it, but I could check and re-read my notes during the exam.

The difficult part was, I think, getting on with it. I'm quite a big procrastinator, so sitting in an exam hall with a one-hour deadline per essay and no distractions works well for me - there's no time to prevaricate, you just have to write.

At home, with 48 hours to complete the two essays, I had to really push myself not to get distracted - so I logged out of TSR and all social media, and deleted the Guardian off my phone.

Regarding cheating, with essay subjects how would someone cheat, really? I suppose theoretically you could pay someone else to produce the essays for you, but if that person hasn't been studying the same module all year, and getting practice at writing the kind of essays expected, are they really likely to be able to produce better work than you?
That's the problem for a lot of students with trying to not get distracted. Not everyone has a quiet environment at home and some universities (mine included) have decided to close our library after next week.

And I guess for essay subjects you can't really cheat (unless you discuss with others the key things to include in them), but for STEM subjects it is pretty obvious how.
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LeapingLucy
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(Original post by Anonymous)
That's the problem for a lot of students with trying to not get distracted. Not everyone has a quiet environment at home and some universities (mine included) have decided to close our library after next week.

And I guess for essay subjects you can't really cheat (unless you discuss with others the key things to include in them), but for STEM subjects it is pretty obvious how.
Yeah, it's a lot harder to imagine how online exams will work for STEM subjects.

Regarding having a quiet space to work, I went home to my parents' house. This also meant I didn't have to cook during the exam, which was helpful.
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bioenthusiast
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I study Biomedical Science - how would an online exam work for that? We do have essays in our exams, but it's different to subjects like history or english. With those subjects, it's a lot more independent thought. But with my course - the essays rely on essentially recalling biological information. Surely you could easily cheat by having your paper notes next to you??
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Anonymous #2
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(Original post by bioenthusiast)
I study Biomedical Science - how would an online exam work for that? We do have essays in our exams, but it's different to subjects like history or english. With those subjects, it's a lot more independent thought. But with my course - the essays rely on essentially recalling biological information. Surely you could easily cheat by having your paper notes next to you??
My thoughts exactly and I study maths. Who knows how this will play out.
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bioenthusiast
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(Original post by Anonymous)
My thoughts exactly and I study maths. Who knows how this will play out.
Yeah maths is even more strange. I can't imagine how you can be examined for maths without doing a physical exam. God knows.
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Anonymous #2
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(Original post by bioenthusiast)
Yeah maths is even more strange. I can't imagine how you can be examined for maths without doing a physical exam. God knows.
I'm thinking maybe an worksheet style open book test with harder questions or the traditional in person test if the university is feeling reckless or maybe they'll change the exams to a later date.
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by Anonymous)
I'm thinking maybe an worksheet style open book test with harder questions or the traditional in person test if the university is feeling reckless or maybe they'll change the exams to a later date.
I'd rather have the exams at a later date tbh. Most students revise using past papers so what's the point of making it harder?

Can they not just have exams in May/June but spread the students out more so they're not sitting so close together in the exam hall?
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04MR17
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(Original post by Anonymous)
In your case, were online exams more like essay questions or multiple choice? And what subject did you study?
Essay questions for me, though a mix of some source work and some longer essays.
Mine were in History modules.
(Original post by Anonymous)
Was it harder than an in person exam? Do people cheat? How do they prevent people from cheating?
I personally found it easier digitally. Mostly because I prefer typing essays.

The only form of cheating I can think of is collusion among students, but software like Turnitin would pick this up ordinarily.
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04MR17
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(Original post by bioenthusiast)
I study Biomedical Science - how would an online exam work for that? We do have essays in our exams, but it's different to subjects like history or english. With those subjects, it's a lot more independent thought. But with my course - the essays rely on essentially recalling biological information. Surely you could easily cheat by having your paper notes next to you??
(Original post by Anonymous)
My thoughts exactly and I study maths. Who knows how this will play out.
I'm honestly very unsure about how online exams would work for these subjects.
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1st superstar
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favourite month of the year?
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04MR17
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Wow! 2 whole days!

Do you think that might be the case this time round with universities (maybe not as long as 48 hours), since a lot of students have decided to go back to their home countries and there'd be differences with timings?
It may well be that some unis decide to make digital exams longer than physical exams. I suspect this approach will vary per university though.
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LeapingLucy
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Wow! 2 whole days!

Do you think that might be the case this time round with universities (maybe not as long as 48 hours), since a lot of students have decided to go back to their home countries and there'd be differences with timings?
I think it's definitely possible - people from my uni have gone home to countries all across the world, so forcing them to sit online exams in the middle of the night where they are wouldn't be very fair.
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Toki the Dumdum
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My university seems to be going with remote exams but just giving an extra half hour or hour to take photos of workings, collate into one document and then submit. This isn't yet confirmed (just informal chats with lecturer) but currently appears the most positively viewed method.

Hopefully, with a decent amount of unseen content and volume to the papers, it will mitigate somewhat against the inevitable collusion.
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04MR17
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It's worth saying that your university will be setting generic guidelines for assessments but when it comes to your individual modules the biggest influence are going to be middle management - so schools and departments and the sort of policies they're going to follow. Use your student voice system (course student reps and the like) to find out if things are happening in meetings between staff or get in touch with your Students' Union. Do give staff time to put plans in place though.

In general, expect to see more threads from me and others with something about how to navigate things in the next few weeks/months. I'm most interested to hear how differently universities will approach this in general.
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