Online exams make different demands on you compared with in-person exams, both from a technical and personal standpoint. Prepare yourself using the guidance below.
Preparing for your online exams
Online exams can be short window, long window or Learn Quiz. They each have their own procedures and challenges.
How should I prepare for my online exams?
Before the exam
Online Exams are ‘open book’ but otherwise are as similar as possible to a ‘normal’ exam. You should therefore prepare largely as normal.
- Practice how you are going to approach the exam, including knowing how you are going to prepare and submit your answers
- Note down in advance how to get help if you have a problem on the day
- Study your material as thoroughly as you would for any other exam – do not assume there will be time available to look up all the answers! Decide and organise what materials and resources you plan to use
For each exam, guidance will normally be provided on the exam paper regarding the preferred format for completing your answers – for example, word processed and/or handwritten. Please use the preferred format if possible, but ultimately this is your choice and it will of course depend on the nature of the questions. If handwriting your answers, make sure you have all the stationery you require (e.g. pens, pencils, paper, calculator etc.) to hand. You should also make sure that you have familiarised yourself with the guidance on uploading your work to Learn in advance of the day, including how to quickly combine photos or files into one PDF.
Whilst it doesn't affect students this year, we do have guidance on how to prepare during Ramadan.
Your exam environment
Find as comfortable and quiet a space as possible in which to complete your exam. If you have any online long window exams, consider when would be the best time for you to undertake the exam within the 23 hour period allocated. The online exams will be ‘open book’ but otherwise will be as consistent as possible with standard exam conditions and therefore you should prepare largely as normal.
All our study spaces on campus will be open for both revision and taking your exams online if you wish to access them. Some of these spaces, especially in the Library, can be booked in advance.
Your computer and technical setup
All students will need to use a computer to access your online exam paper. For the majority of assessments, you will only need an internet connection to download and then later upload your work within the appropriate time window. If you are taking a test, quiz or multiple choice exam through Learn, you will need a connection throughout the duration of the test. If your connection fails, the system will have saved the last response which you submitted so you should be able to pick up where you left off within the duration of your test attempt.
You will not need access to a printer or dedicated scanner. Where answers are handwritten, they can be photographed or scanned with devices such as a mobile phone. Further details are available in the "Preparing your answers for submission" section below.
If you need help setting up your computer for your assessments, please review the Working from Home advice on the IT Services Website. If you need technical advice, you should contact IT Services directly for support.
If you have specific concerns about the technology you need or accessing suitable IT facilities, please contact contact IT Services urgently, who will be able to provide support or advise you about suitable Computer Lab availability on campus.
Use the practice module on Learn
We have made a practice module available through Learn which replicates how you will interact with your exams during the actual examination session - linked below. Once enrolled you will be given instructions on what to do next. The module is available now.
You can access the practice module as many times as you like and we strongly recommend that you do so at least once in order that you can familiarise yourself with the process of downloading and uploading documents. You should also practice combining a variety of file types (hand written scanned/photos and computer files) before your exam to avoid problems at the time of submission/deadline.
If you have any queries please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conduct during online exams
The online exams are 'open book'. This means that during the exam:
- You may, but are not expected to, consult teaching materials, on-line library resources, academic papers, books, book chapters, dictionaries and/or internet information etc. to inform your answers, unless any additional materials have been specifically provided to you for the exam.
- You may use any calculator.
- You may, but are not expected to, use relevant computational/algebraic software packages. Exam questions will not normally require their use and it is possible that spending time doing so will be detrimental to your performance. Marks are generally awarded when full working and appropriate explanations are provided as answers. If you choose to use a computational software package, and only give the final answer, it is likely you will get a low mark for that part of the question.
Other than the points above, normal expectations around academic integrity, exam conduct and cheating remain unchanged.
- Your answers must be entirely your own work. You must not use answers/content provided wholly or in part by others/other sources.
- You must not share any information or discuss how to interpret or do the questions with anyone else whilst you or they are still taking the exam.
The University has a number of measures in place to ensure students cannot cheat in assessments, including in online exams, and any attempts to do so and/or gain an unfair advantage will be taken very seriously.
Taking your online exams
Here's guidance to help you on the day of your online exam.
What to do if you don’t feel well enough to attempt your exam and/or think you have COVID-19
If you test positive for COVID-19, or you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as a high temperature, which could be COVID-19: You do not need to take a COVID-19 test before you sit any of your exams, but if you do test positive or you have symptoms in line with current Government guidance you should try to stay in your accommodation and avoid contact with other people until you no longer have a high temperature (if you had one) or until you no longer feel unwell. You should still attempt your online exam if you feel well enough to do so but please remain in your accommodation if at all possible. However, if you feel that your illness negatively impacted your exam performance, we recommend submitting a Mitigating Circumstances claim. Please note that no evidence will be required when submitting a claim for this reason, and if upheld, it is very likely that the outcome will be a repeat attempt. Make sure to read through our Reassessment guidance to understand what this might involve.
If you don’t feel well enough to attempt your online exam for another reason: We advise that you do not take your exam. Instead, you should submit a Mitigating Circumstances claim. Please note that no evidence will be required when submitting a claim for this reason, and if upheld, it is very likely that the outcome will be a repeat attempt. Make sure to read through our Reassessment guidance to understand what this might involve.
Technical guidance on downloading and uploading exam documents
You will be able to download the exam paper from your Learn Timeline or the relevant module page from the start time set for the exam (shown in your exam timetable). If your exam is a resit, please note the module page will be named 'Module Code_EXAM', e.g. '21ABC123_EXAM'). The paper will be in PDF format. If you can't see your exam on your timeline, simply search for it, using the module code in the search bar of your Learn landing page.
You are advised to download the paper as soon as you can for an online short window exam, or as soon as is convenient for you to do so for an online long window exam. This is in the event of any unforeseen loss of internet connection. For a few exams, additional documents will also be available (e.g. formula books) for you to download. If this is the case, you should be made aware of this in advance via the relevant Learn module page. These documents will appear alongside your exam paper.
The exam process has been designed to minimise the length of time you will need to remain connected to the internet. This is to accommodate those students who may have a more limited connection or who may experience unforeseen connectivity issues on the day. This means that it will not be possible to raise a query about the paper during the exam itself. We have worked very hard to ensure that all instructions and questions on exam papers are as clear as possible but if you are unsure about any aspects, then you should write a comment to this effect on your script. This will then be considered afterwards as part of the marking process.
You should submit your completed exam answers to the Learn submission point by your final submission time set for each online exam. You will be able to make as many submissions as you like up until the deadline, but staff will only be able to access and mark the final submission (earlier submissions will be overwritten).
You will need to upload your work as one single PDF file. This must be labelled as follows:
Student ID/registration number, followed by the module code and then ‘Exam’ and Version number
e.g."B123456-19GYB400-Exam-V1" (unless you are advised otherwise for a specific exam).
If you realise before the deadline that you need to change your submission, you MUST update the version number e.g. v2, v3. This will ensure that your previous submissions are not overwritten.
Your most recent submission before the deadline will be marked.
You may find it helpful to consult the detailed guide on how to PDF your work, in the next toggle below.
Once uploaded, check you have submitted the right file by reviewing it on Learn after submission, plus keep a copy. If you believe there is an issue then please let us know immediately.
- If you experience any issues with submitting your work, it is strongly recommended that you seek support from the exam helpline (see below) at the earliest opportunity and ideally before the deadline.
- If you miss the deadline, it is still important that you submit your work and that you do this as soon as possible following the deadline - you may need to get in touch with the exam helpline (see below) to make your submission.
- If you submit the wrong or incomplete work, you will not be provided with an opportunity to make any further submissions through Learn following the deadline, but you should seek support from the exam helpline (see below) as soon as you become aware of this issue.
It is your responsibility to submit your work by the stated deadline and it is your responsibility to check that you are submitting the correct piece of work. Mitigating Circumstances claims or Academic Appeals based solely on work having been submitted incorrectly or late will not be accepted, unless you are impacted by circumstances beyond your control.
We strongly recommend that you access the practice module in order that you can familiarise yourself with the process of downloading and uploading documents (particularly merging documents into a single PDF).
Preparing your answers for submission
This is a similar process to coursework submission. More general guidance is available here. It is important that your work is easy to read and it is clear which answer relates to which question on the exam paper.
Please ensure you include your ID number (but please do not write your name in your work) at the top of each page and number the pages of the material you plan to submit.
Once you have created your PDF file, please check you can open it and the contents are as you expect (e.g. pages in order, the right way up etc.) before you upload it to the Learn submission point. Once uploaded, check you have submitted the right file by reviewing it on Learn after submission, plus keep a copy. If you believe there is an issue then please let us know immediately.
Are your answers word processed (e.g. using Microsoft Word)?
If yes – then please ‘Save As…Adobe pdf’, and then upload the pdf file to the Learn submission point on the module page as you would normally do for coursework.
If you are writing in LaTeX, your output will be a pdf file, and you can upload it to Learn.
Are your answers hand-written?
If yes – then please scan hard copies of your pages and save them as a PDF before submitting. If you don’t have access to a scanner, you can scan (or photograph) your work using an iOS or Android phone or device by following the guides below. You can also use one of the many MFD printers on campus; if you plan to do so, please make sure you allow enough time.
Scan your work on an iOS phone/device
Use Microsoft Lens (Apple/iOS Guide) or Notes on your iPhone (Using the Notes app to digitise your answers). You can also use other scanning apps that produce high-quality PDFs, if you wish (for example, Scannable or Genius Scan).
Review your scans. Make sure all pages are in one PDF. If your scans are blurry, use the Tips for Scanning below. Name your file by tapping the file name.
Scan your work on an Android phone/device
Use Microsoft Lens on your phone to directly create a pdf (Android guide), or another scanning app that produces high-quality PDFs, if you wish (for example Genius Scan).
Review your scans. Make sure all pages are in one PDF. If your scans are blurry, use the Tips for Scanning below. Name your file by tapping the file name.
Preparing your work using a tablet
You can also use a tablet device and stylus if you have access to them to write on screen and save the work as a PDF.
If none of the above works for you, then please take photos of your answers using any digital camera. You will then need to transfer the images onto a device which you can then use to combine your photos into a single PDF file and upload to Learn. You can create a PDF from the document using ‘Save As…Adobe pdf’.
Do you have a mixture of word processed answers and hand-written answers?
The easiest way to create a single document is to use a scanning app on your phone or device to take a picture of the handwritten parts as above, upload them to a device, and then insert them into your document. Use ‘Insert…Picture’ to do this.
You can then create a pdf from the document using ‘Save As…Adobe pdf’ as above.
Do you have to use one of these methods?
No. As long as you can produce a PDF file of your work which is easy to read, you may use any approach which suits you and the technology you have available. However, once uploaded on Learn, please check it will open, make sure all pages are there and it looks as you intend.
Tips for scanning using your phone or tablet
- Use dark lettering: use the darkest pen, pencil, or font colour possible to do your work.
- Scan on a flat surface: scan on a dark table with high contrast to your paper.
- Steady your hands: hold your phone at a bird’s eye view and scan your pages slowly with steady hands.
- Review your scans. Make sure all pages are in one PDF.
Academic Misconduct and Cheating in Online Exams
What is Academic Integrity?
The University expects all students to uphold the highest standards of academic integrity during the conduct of all assessment processes. Academic integrity is the commitment to, and demonstration of honest and responsible scholarship and it is crucially important in order to ensure that:
- all students can learn and benefit from the process of learning;
- all students are treated equally and fairly; and
- the standards and value of academic awards are maintained.
All students receive guidance and training on the University’s expectations in the early stages of their studies. However, the University is aware of the potential greater vulnerability of the online assessment process to academic misconduct (i.e. cheating). You should be reassured that the University takes academic misconduct very seriously and has designed the online assessment arrangements to make it difficult for students to cheat. The Academic Misconduct section defines the activities we consider to constitute academic misconduct. This includes plagiarism (submitting work as your own of which you are not the author), assisting another candidate to gain an unfair advantage (such as sharing answers via WhatsApp or other messaging platforms) and impersonation (someone else taking the exam for you). The Library has some helpful online resources to help you understand plagiarism and how to avoid it.
How we identify academic misconduct
The University also employs a variety of mechanisms which enables it to identify where students have cheated. These include:
- Turnitin UK, which searches the web and extensive databases of reference material and content submitted by other students to identify duplicated work. We are aware that some essay mills offer 'plagiarism-free' guarantees. However, many essay mill writers themselves take short cuts by copying work, so text matching software does identify this. Some writers also recycle material for subsequent commissions.
- Turnitin Authorship Investigate, which provides evidence about the origin and consistency of a student’s submitted work that can be used to confirm academic misconduct. This can be used to track writing styles, typing patterns and linguistic style, helping to determine whether there have been multiple authors of work submitted by the same student or if there are significant variations in writing style from different pieces of work.
The University will also compare student performance in their online assessments with their prior performance and reserves the right to question students as part of the Regulation XVIII Academic Misconduct process if it is felt necessary to do so to confirm the authorship of any of their submitted work.
The penalties and perils of academic misconduct
The likelihood of detection of any cheating is therefore very high, and the potential consequences of cheating are extremely serious. Students found guilty of academic misconduct may fail an assessment altogether or even have their studies terminated (see the potential penalties listed in Regulation XVIII). Indeed, a number of students were charged with academic misconduct during the Semester 2 (2019/20) online exam period and appropriate action was taken. In addition, students should be aware that, as well as being morally and ethically wrong, and contrary to University Regulations, there are significant personal risks associated with the use of “essay mills” and other “contract cheating” services. These include blackmail and extortion, because once a student has cheated in this way, they will be permanently vulnerable, not only while in higher education but into their professional careers. Students who use online essay mill services also expose themselves to the risk of their personal details being sold on to identity fraudsters.
If you become aware of circumstances which appear to indicate that another student has committed an act of academic misconduct, you are encouraged to report such circumstances, at the earliest opportunity, to your lecturer or School Director of Studies or Associate Dean for Teaching. Providing this reporting is done in good faith, the University will view it positively and will seek to maintain your anonymity wherever possible and protect you.
How to get help during your exam (the helpline)
If you have any problems downloading the exam paper or uploading your answers during an online exam, you need to call the Helpline straight away, so that we can help you as soon as possible:
|Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm UK (GMT) time||Any other time, or if not able to make phone call|
|Telephone 01509 222900||Email email@example.com from your University account, stating your student ID number and module code|
As with the Helpline, the mailbox will be monitored between 8am and 6pm UK (GMT) time, Monday to Friday during the hours set out above.
Please note that the helpline will not be able to assist with any queries related to the questions on the exam paper. The helpline and mailbox will only be monitored during the examination period.
We are expecting you to submit your exam answers through Learn. However, if you experience difficulties in doing so by the deadline for your exam you may, as a last resort, email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have to do this, please ensure you do so before the deadline from your University email account and include your student ID number and module code in the email.
Please bear in mind that the maximum file size which can be sent from your student email account is 25MB. You cannot send links to One Drive files.
If you do not have access to email, then please call the telephone helpline number as above.
General guidance on taking exams
For each exam, guidance will normally be provided on the exam paper regarding the preferred format for completing your answers – for example, word processed and/or handwritten. Please use the preferred format if possible, but ultimately this is your choice and it will of course depend on the nature of the questions. If handwriting your answers, make sure you have all the stationery you require (e.g. pens, pencils, paper, calculator etc.) to hand. You should also have familiarised yourself with the guidance on uploading your work to Learn in advance of the day.
Please ensure you:
- Write in English unless the instructions on the exam paper say otherwise.
- Include your ID number (but please do not write your name in your work) at the top of each page and number the pages of the material you plan to submit.
- Follow the instructions on the exam paper carefully.
- Keep a check on timings and the marks allocated for each question
- If you are typing your responses, make sure you save your work as you go along
- At the end, check your file carefully before submission to make sure you have included everything you need, check you have submitted the right file by reviewing it on Learn and keep a copy! If you believe there is an issue then please let us know immediately.
Please also note the following:
- Your answers should be equivalent in content and length to answers you would have produced under normal exam conditions, unless you have been advised otherwise for a specific exam.
- You should complete your answers within the indicative time provided regardless of whether it is a short or long window exam, paying attention to any recommended word counts/answer lengths.
- You may handwrite and/or word process your answers, as you see fit.
- You are encouraged to word process narrative answers (e.g. essays, short answer questions), with the following formatting 12 point (ideally Arial or Times New Roman); 1.5 spacing; minimum 2 cm margins, but scans/images of hand-written answers will be accepted.
- You are encouraged to hand write answers to numerical/quantitative questions as you would normally to ensure that you show all steps in your calculations. You may mix word processed and hand written work as long as you make the structure of the answer clear. Please refer to the guidance in section 6 for help on how to do this.
- If you are asked to complete a certain number of questions within the exam paper and/or within different sections of the paper, you should only complete and submit this number of answers. If you have attempted additional questions and the answers are included in the pages you submit, remember to cross them out. Any questions answered beyond the number required which have not been clearly crossed out will not be marked.
- Where appropriate, you should cite literature in accordance with disciplinary protocol (e.g. Smith, 2019) to support your answers, but you do not need to provide a reference list as you typically would for coursework.
- You will not be expected to source information from academic papers, books, book chapters or other resources to inform your answers during the exam.