Academic Guidance – Online Exams

Exam Marking, Feedback and Grading

Will the exams be marked in the same way as usual?

Your exam answers will be assessed using the same Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs) and marking system as exams taken on-campus. You are expected to answer the questions in the same way and in the same amount of time as you would if the exam was held on-campus. The markers will, therefore, assess these answers in the same way too, although will take account of the extent to which certain skills may or may not be reasonably possible for you to demonstrate given the Covid-related disruption to the end of the teaching period.


How will I be checked for plagiarism?

We expect all students to submit exam answers which are solely their own work. The University’s Declaration of Originality applies to online exams in the same way it applies to coursework and in-person exams.

The University reserves the right to carry out vivas (spoken examinations of students) where we suspect plagiarism or misconduct, in order to ensure that all submitted material is the student's own work and that the student has an understanding of what they have written. We may also check work using originality checking software such as TurnItIn. Students will declare the originality of their work before each exam, and a false declaration will not just affect an individual course, but could put a student's whole degree at risk.

You should focus on studying and doing the best you can on your exams. Exams are your opportunity to demonstrate to us your skills and knowledge, and this does not change if the exam is held online instead of in person.


What happens if I submit my exam late?

Exams cannot be submitted late, just as on-campus exams cannot be handed in late. It is your responsibility to make sure you submit your exam on time, and we recommend allocating your time so that you are not aiming to submit your exam near the published end time of the exam. If there are technical issues that prevent you from submitting the exam on time, you should get in touch with the Helpdesk.


How will I get feedback?

Exam feedback will be provided as usual to all students in line with the University’s Generic Feedback on summative exams policy. This is feedback on the exam and performance overall – your School will indicate to you if any individual feedback will be available in line with the normal practice for your degree.


How will I get my grades?

Your course grades will be released after exam boards on MyCampus in the usual manner. You will be given your grade for specific exams as normal, not on MyCampus, by your School – be aware that this may be delayed because of how busy Schools will be during this period, but they will do their best to get this to you in line with normal timescales. Do not check the Moodle Assignment you used for the exam for your grades – they will not be available to you and you run the risk of slowing down Moodle for other students.


Completing the Exam

How should I spend my time in my exam period?

You should be able to complete the exam in the time indicated and are unlikely to derive major benefits from taking longer. Note that spending longer often leads to muddled answers that do not receive high grades. It is better to answer in a clear and concise fashion within the time limit given. The intention is that you spend no more time on the exam than you would do if it was being held on campus. For example, if your exam was due to take 90 minutes when it was scheduled on campus, we still expect you to take no more than 90 minutes to complete your answers.

When planning your time, you should allocate up to an additional half-hour to download the exam paper and an additional half-hour to upload your answers to Moodle at the end of the exam. It may take a little while (up to a minute) to upload each file during busy times. Do not refresh your browser during this time, and make sure to leave plenty of time for the upload period. These times also give you the ability to report any problems within the 24-hour exam availability period.

Further information can be found on the guide to online exams.


How should I reference on an online exam?

Our expectation is that these exams will be completed as far as possible in the originally allocated times. With this in mind, we do not expect a full reference list at the end of the answer. We just expect whatever in-text citations you would normally use in written work (minus the reference list) to evidence your arguments. Please note the referencing format will be different across subject areas. This should follow the usual practice in your field; you do not need to provide a full reference list or bibliography at the end of the submission. For clarification, refer to your subject guidance and/or course Moodle.

Be careful not to try to take credit for the work of others – while you do not need to provide a reference list, you do need to clearly state the ownership of the ideas you are using.


What happens if I have two exams open at the same time (i.e. with an overlap in the 24-hour windows)?

You should not have two exams that are scheduled to start at the same time because we have retained the University’s exam scheduling that tries to avoid this. However, you might, or you might have two 24-hour exams that overlap. In either of these scenarios, focus on one paper for the amount of time allocated to that paper (including time to download the question(s) and then upload your answer) and then, once you have taken a break, do the same for the second.

If you have a 24-hour-period exam, remember that this period takes account of the fact that students are studying in different time zones, and that they may have IT issues, caring responsibilities or disabilities that mean a bigger time allowance would be helpful. They are not 24-hour long exams; they are 24-hour windows in which you can submit your answers. Focusing entirely on one paper for the 24-hour period, or for any period longer than the recommended length of the exam, will not produce your best work.


If I can access all my materials in the exam, why should I bother studying in advance?

Open book exams are not a test of your ability to search literature quickly and insert quotes/facts into your answers; instead, you should use your time in advance to prepare your understanding of the core concepts, ideas, discussions and debates around your topic. During your exam, you will not have time to accurately learn new material and will not be able to show your examiners a thorough grasp of the concepts under study. Your studying in advance should be used to develop and enhance your knowledge; your exam time can then be spent crafting an accurate and advanced answer to the specific question(s).

Your study in advance will allow you to gain access to the relevant materials in the fastest possible time, and to produce the most meaningful, concise answers to the exam questions.

Further information can be found on the guide to open book exams.


Can I look up notes, source materials, etc and use them in my exam? What about in a timed exam (for exams not in the standard 24-hour format)?

You are not expected to use online resources or to spend time undertaking literature searches. You should answer the question as much as possible in the style you would in a ‘normal’ exam. A pitfall in open book examinations is to expect answers to come directly from page X of the textbook, slide Y of the notes, or from Google. Although we cannot stop you using online resources, they will often just distract you from focusing on answering the question in front of you clearly and concisely: your own critical abilities will serve you better as you should be drawing on your own learning throughout the course. The revision you are able to do without access to the question should best prepare you to do well in the exam.

Spending your energy trying to find particular pieces of information, facts or quotes is not the most effective use of your time through the exam. Instead, make use of your exam time – and your prior study – to put together answers that are most applicable to the specific exam questions.

Remember that, if you do use any source materials in your exam, you need to provide in-text references in a style appropriate for your subject. (You do not need to include a full bibliography/reference list at the end of your submission.)


Should I talk to other people about this? What if I am tempted to discuss the exam or my answer with others?

Your answers must entirely be your own work. You must not communicate or collude with other students taking this exam while the exam is active. Note that all exam papers may be processed through Turnitin for plagiarism checking, and in cases of suspected misconduct Schools may hold a viva examination to further check your knowledge and establish that the exam answers are your own.

If you live with other students who will be undertaking the same exam as you, we recommend you discuss with them well in advance where you each will work so that there will be no accidental collusion between you in your exam answers.

Exams are an opportunity to show how you have achieved the Intended Learning Outcomes of the course. The best approach is to prepare well and then to use your time in the exam to show your knowledge and analysis clearly by answering the questions set.


What happens if I have a question about the exam paper? Who should I contact?

Within the first three hours of the exam period you should report any problems with the exam paper to the Helpdesk. They can then contact someone in your School if required.


Can I handwrite my exam answers in the same way as I would normally?

We would strongly encourage you to type your answers and submit a typewritten paper. We recognise this might not always be possible across all subjects; for example, if you are working with graphs or equations, we would expect you to handwrite these and upload images as part of your exam answer.

If you do handwrite your answers, ensure your handwriting is clear, legible and intelligible. Remember to correctly and accurately number each question’s answer on your script. You should also number each page in sequence in case they get out of order when you scan them.

You can submit your answers as a set of image files or as a single PDF. Your exam instructions should make clear to you what is expected. To turn your handwritten exam script into a PDF you can use a tablet/smartphone app like Office Lens which makes it easier for you to do this – if you intend on doing this, you should practice well in advance of the exam at the Student Practice Exam Moodle site well in advance of the exam.

Find out more about Office Lens.

Otherwise, you should follow the instructions provided with your device or scanner.


Additional Time and Alternative Formats

Will adjustments be made for students with a disability?

The Disability Service has worked with academic staff to ensure that the exam processes are inclusive and accessible for all. We are confident that every consideration has been given to meeting the needs of students with disabilities in this unprecedented period.

24-hour examination window: the original time allowance for the exam, plus the additional time that you would have been allocated, is fully accommodated within the 24-hour examination window. As such, it is not necessary for us to add any additional time to the 24-hour window but when planning the time in which you are taking your exams, you should allow for the extra time you would normally have.

Short Duration/Timed Exams: if you have a timed exam, the time allocated is already double the time required to complete the paper. Therefore, any additional time is already accommodated. By providing 100% more time than would usually be given, the need for individual adjustments has been removed. When planning the time in which you are taking your exams, you should allow for the extra time you would normally have.

In exceptional circumstances, where there are students with complex support needs, for whom additional time on top of that already provided may need to be considered, students should first speak to their Disability Adviser. Where necessary their case can be put in writing to the Executive Director of Student and Academic Services, Robert Partridge for further consideration.

Disability Service are liaising with Schools to ensure that students’ needs are met. If you have any questions about your exam adjustments or are anxious, please do contact your disability advisor directly and they will be happy to talk things through with you in order to put your mind at ease.