Our exams begin next week, and our focus this week is getting students ready for managing themselves and their academic performance in the exam period. Two key issues from the student perspective are understanding what that 48 hours looks like for them, and giving strong guidance on keeping focussed in their exam answers. A problem with 48 hours is that it is two sleeps, not one, and we want to push a strong message of keeping up a regular and healthy pattern of sleeping and eating over the exam period, with clear advice and directions if students are looking for help. This post is the complement of the Students’ Study Guide shared at the start of this process.
We’ve made the guide shown, and the text is below, available to anyone who might find it a useful basis for their own setting.
Text of document:
Getting ready for the exam period
In advance of the exam period, use the following checklists to ensure you are prepared in advance.
What will you need to complete the assessment?
- Notes and other resources you want to have available to you;
- Pens, paper, calculator, model kits, etc;
- Food and drink that you want to have available.
Do you know how the assessment interface works?
- Watch the explainer video;
- Try out the Mock Exam site on Learn and make sure you know how to submit your answers;
- If you are not sure, ask!
Be proactive in looking after yourself
- Eating, staying hydrated, and sleeping regularly will help you keep routines;
- Stay in touch with friends and family;
- Sketch out a rough timetable of what the exam period looks like for you (down time, time on assessment, sleeping/eating time);
- Inform people you live with or who rely on you when you plan to be working on the assessment to try to minimise disturbance;
- Remember this is not a sprint— pace yourself!
Check in with your Personal Tutor in advance of the examination period if you want to talk through your preparations or have any questions about the assessment process.
During the 48 hour period
For any technical or process queries, or if you have a query during the exam period, contact:
This email is monitored during office hours (UK time) by the Teaching Office staff, IT staff, the Director of Teaching, and the Senior Personal Tutor.
Managing your time and yourself
- While you have 48 hours, each assessment should only take up to 3 hours to complete.
- Even though it is open-book, it is understandable that you may be nervous—especially with the first exam—take your time and work methodically;
- Keep in touch with friends and family. You can discuss anything except the exam!
- Ensure you eat and sleep regularly.
Be proactive in managing your well-being during exam period is important. Make sure you eat regular meals and stay hydrated.
Completing the assessment
- Take time to read through the exam paper, noting questions you are going to work on;
- Write out your answers clearly;
- You may consult notes, books, lecture captures, etc, but everything you write must be in your own words and in your own hand;
- Remember to answer the question asked. Lots of unnecessary information will indicate a poor understanding of what is being asked;
- If you have any questions during the exam, email _______________ who will be invigilating during office hours (UK time). You may not contact academic staff during the 48-hour period about exam questions.
- Only submit the number of questions asked for, and take a break before the next exam.
Even though it is open-book, the techniques are the same. Take your time, work methodically, and focus on answering the questions asked.
Answers to 12 Frequently Asked Questions
- What will be covered on each exam?
Exams will have identical format to previous years. The lecture courses covered in each exam are detailed in the “Assessment Details” links on the exams contingency page.
- How do I access my exam paper?
Papers are made available 24 hours in advance of the start time on a dedicated Learn site for each exam. You may download the paper in advance if you wish, in preparation for opening it at the start of the exam.
- How do I open my exam paper?
At 1 PM on the day of the exam, a password to open the exam paper will be emailed to the class group. Use this password to open the file. The password will also be added to the exam paper site.
- Do I need graph paper?
We are assuming that all students have plain paper, pens, calculator, and a mobile phone. Therefore if questions ask for graphs, you may sketch them on plain paper. Do not use pencil.
- Can I use figures from books or internet?
All work on the exam answer must be in your hand. While you can consult other sources, you must draw or sketch it in your own hand. This includes chemical reactions and mathematical expressions.
- Can I use MS Word/ChemDraw?
If you wish to compile your answers on MS Word, you may use Word to type answer text and add in chemical reactions, plots, drawings, etc that you have drawn. However, you cannot use ChemDraw, Excel, or equivalent to submit answers requiring drawing/plotting. These must be in your own hand. You should check the readability of your PDF before submitting.
- What if I have a question during the exam?
In normal exams, students ask invigilators questions and these are relayed to academic staff members. For open-book assessments, the exam will be invigilated during office hours by the email __________________. You may not communicate with academic staff about an exam during the 48 hour period. After that period, staff cannot discuss marking or answers to exams until after the Exam Board.
- I am concerned about my health/well-being—who do I contact?
We recommend that you contact Chris Mowat if you can. If you prefer, you may contact your Personal Tutor, but they will not be allowed to discuss any topic relating to the examination.
- How much should I write?
You should write enough to ensure that you have answered the question asked. A key skill being assessed in this exam is how well you focus your answers on what is being asked, so writing a lot of additional and unnecessary information is poor practice, and may indicate that you do not understand the content.
- I am concerned about plagiarism—what am I allowed to do?
The key message is that you should submit answers to questions that only you have written, and are based only on your thoughts. You may consult with other resources (notes, books, internet resources including lecture captures), but you should not copy these word for word. Anything you submit must be written by you, or drawn by you. You should not discuss the exam with anyone else, neither the academic content, nor the “easiness” or “hardness” of an exam—to do so is unfair on others. Full details of the Code of Conduct as they relate to open-book assessments are overleaf. If you have any concerns, contact Michael Seery.
- Can I do more than the required number of answers?
No—you may only submit the required number of answers. If you submit more, the required number will be selected randomly.
- How do I know you have received my answers?
For each answer you submit, you will receive an email confirming receipt. If you resubmit an answer, this will override your previous submission, and you will receive a new receipt. Check your email receipts tally with what you expect.