Exam Frequently Asked Questions

What is the format of Semester 2 exams?
The Semester 2 exams for the School of Social & Political Sciences (other than those identified in the assessment timetable) will be 2-week open book exams rather than the standard unseen exam. These exams will be an adapted version of the original unseen exam, but you will be able to complete it with access to notes, course materials, the internet, etc, and over a longer period.

How long will I have for the exam?
Your examination will be available 2 weeks prior to the examination schedule published by the University on 2nd April. The School sent out an up-dated version on 3rd April showing the dates on which you will be able to access the exam paper. Please note that the times in the timetable are in ‘British Summer Time’.

You have a 10-working day period to begin and complete this exam. You will then have a 24-hour window in which to upload your exam answers. Please ensure that you give yourself at least half hour to upload your answers to Moodle. This is important as this give you the ability to take evidence of (e.g. screenshots) and report any problems within the 24-hour answer upload period.

Are exams in other schools and colleges following a similar format?
Please note that if you are undertaking exams held in different Schools, the configurations of your assessment environments, and the guidance for submissions, will differ from those for SSPS. If you have any queries relating to these exams, please contact those Schools for their advice and guidance.

How much should I write?
For all exams relating to courses delivered by the School of Social & Political Sciences, there will be a maximum of 750 words per exam question answered.  Please note that other Schools/disciplines have adopted different word limits. Therefore, you must check the exam requirements if you are undertaking an exam in a different School/discipline. This figure does not include any diagrams, figures, graphs, references etc., which can be used to supplement the text where appropriate.

Penalties will not be imposed if you go beyond this word limit but work beyond the word limit will not be marked. This is a maximum word limit – please be assured that you will not be penalised for shorter answers although if you are significantly below the word limit, do check that you have appropriately answered the question.

You can use online resources, but you are not expected to spend time undertaking extensive literature searches. You should answer the question as much as possible in the style as you would in a ‘normal’ exam.

A bibliography or reference list will not be required for your exam answer, but you are encouraged to refer to the literature within your answer as in a normal exam.

Does the 750 upper word limit apply to my whole exam paper or to each exam question?
The 750 word upper word limit applies to EACH exam question. Put the word count at the end of each of your exam answers. Some exam papers may only have one question.

Will I be able to talk to my friends about the exam questions?  
Although we encourage co-operative and collaborative learning in class, this is an exam and you should not discuss the questions with anyone else. This must be your own work. You must sign a Declaration of Originality Statement and we may check answers for similarity through Turnitin.

How do I prepare and revise for a 'take home' exam?
The main difference between a typical and 'take home' exam in SPS is you get to see the exam questions in advance and target your revision and preparation more specifically to question(s) you choose to answer. Here is a suggested timeline, as an example, on how to plan your revision.

Prior to the release of exam questions, you may wish to do some general revision and deepen your basic understanding and overarching concepts/themes relevant to the course (e.g. conceptual definitions, cross-cutting theories/theorists). You may find lecture notes, slides, and general/essential readings of the course helpful.

Take this time to also familiarise yourself with the procedures and School/University guidance on taking online exams.

On the day exam questions are released, check Moodle and download and read the exam paper carefully.

After exam questions are released, choose exam question(s) you wish to answer and do more targeted readings accordingly (e.g. readings on a specific theme). This may also be a good time to explore recommended and further readings that are relevant to the exam question(s).

You should devise a plan on how you would tackle the question(s) and link this with ongoing topic-specific and general readings you have done and will do before the exam. This plan can have several drafts and be adapted as you do how you would tackle the question(s) and link this with ongoing topic-specific and general readings you have done and will do before the exam. This plan can have several drafts and be adapted as you do more readings/revision.
You should also start to write and draft your exam answer as early as possible, you don’t have wait till the 24-hour period to do so (this is only the period you are permitted to submit your answers).

How do I do well in a 'take home' exam? 
The marking criteria we use in a take home exam is the same as other assessments, it is only the format of how you do the assessment is different. You may wish to consult the Students’ guide to the marking system and more about the marking process on university pages.

Once the exam questions are released, use the time to design a good structure, improve the quality and precision of your writing, and pay attention to the depth of your arguments too.

The general tips are:
• Demonstrate your arguments are informed by the relevant literature and readings on the topic
• Show awareness and engage with the key debates. Do not be afraid to critique, and cite evidence and sources of work to develop your arguments.
• Consider a suitable range of literature and/or perspectives on a topic to make an argument of your own
• Answer the exam question directly and confidently and justify the arguments and any choices you make
There are subject-specific requirements and definitions on how to tackle an exam, so please contact the UofG Exam helpdesk for clarification and guidance if required.

How will I submit my exam answers?
You will submit your answers via a Moodle submission area in the Course Moodle site for which you are being examined. If you experience problem with the submission process, please take a screenshot of the error message and follow the instructions contained in your exam guidance paper.

What if I don’t have access to a computer/the internet?
Whilst most students will have access to an internet-connected device, we are conscious that a small minority of students will not be able to access either a PC/laptop/similar device or the internet. We will accept hand-written answers that can be scanned/photographed and e-mailed to the relevant course administrator. Students concerned about their ability to access Moodle assessment/submission areas for your exams should email the School Administration team in the first instance.

The University has made additional funds available to support students through these assessments. You can apply for a grant to help you if you need to purchase any additional hardware for doing and uploading your assessment. The process is relatively simple, and we recommend that you consider making an application if you feel it would help.

What if I have additional support needs?
Our aim is to ensure that these assessments are compliant with our Accessible and Inclusive Learning Policy, and therefore, for many students with additional support needs. We believe that the move to a 2-week open book provides everyone with enough time and opportunity to complete the exam. 

What will the University do to support students who are parents or carers ?
We decided to hold assessments because we thought, on balance, it would be of benefit to students and it is certainly our intention that no student should be disadvantaged by their performance.  We do understand that in the current circumstances it will be difficult for many students to take these exams at home and, in particular, those with young children. Our 2-week open book exam format will assist students in completing this exam alongside any other commitments they have. 

What if have two exams scheduled for the same day?
You may be concerned that you could have two exams within an overlapping period. By adopting a 2-week open book exam format, it is expected that you will have more than enough time even if you have overlapping exams.

What should I do if I am unable to complete my exam?
Please inform your School contact at the earliest opportunity if you are unable to complete the open book exam as you will need to submit a case for mitigating circumstances.

Due to the focus on the April/May exam diet, we have not yet confirmed arrangements for the August examination diet. The School will be in touch with any relevant information once confirmed, and if/when it is appropriate.

I have questions about how the Unversity's 'No Detriment' policy applies to my particular circumstances. How do I find out more?
The School is currently in the process of developing additional guidance as indicated in the 'No Detriment' communication issued to students. We will have this guidance completed as soon as possible and posted here on the FAQ site. 

Concluding message and further support:
Our key aim as a School is to support you to get through these exams as best we can – we are all in this together and we have become even more expert at finding solutions to unexpected events in the past fortnight.  We will take each exam one step at a time, and deal with anything that comes up – so please try not to worry – we are committed to your success.

If you do have any more questions, please contact the University Exam Helpdesk. Please do not contact academic staff as they are not permitted to discuss the content or interpretation of the exam questions before or after the exam paper has been released.