Student Guide to Assessment: 2019/20 Semester 2 assessment period
Guidance on how to approach online assessment during the Semester 2 assessment period.
This is version 3 of the guidance which is also available in PDF format. A version history is noted in the PDF.
It is strongly recommended that you download a copy of this guide, and have it to hand when you are offline.
In response to the COVID-19 health crisis, on 18 March 2020 the University moved, temporarily, all teaching and assessment online for all undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses.
This means that we are unable to hold exams, and other assessments, on campus in semester 2. We have therefore adapted assessments so that they can be taken by you away from the University. These new assessment arrangements have been approved by your Head of Department, and the Dean, and have been overseen at the highest levels of the University.
We want to give all of you the chance to complete the academic year and achieve the outcome you deserve so that you can either progress in your studies or finish your degree on schedule. The University has an excellent reputation for high academic standards. You benefit from this reputation when you apply for a job or postgraduate study. Therefore, any action we take during the current COVID-19 crisis must reflect those standards. By putting in place arrangements for all units to be assessed, we enable you to achieve the credit for each unit, and thereby the learning outcomes of the programme. It also ensures that we will have reliable evidence for making awards and progression decisions.
We expect all students, wherever possible, to take their exams or other end-of-year assessments. At the same time, we recognise that this is a difficult time for you all. Therefore, we are taking steps that acknowledge the disruption, and the potential effect on your performance.
This guide provides you with information on what you can expect during the Semester 2 assessment period and advice on how to approach your assessments. Please also refer to any guidance provided by your department.
Should I attempt my assessments now?
We advise you to engage with your assessments as much as you can, and to try and complete them if you feel able to. Our no-detriment measures are in place to support you whether or not you are able to complete all your semester 2 assessments right now. Our priority is helping you to feel confident that your outcomes will accurately reflect your knowledge and the work you’ve put in.
Please read our guide, COVID-19: No-detriment measures for assessment for taught student outcomes. These measures are designed to take into account general disruption when working on your assessments.
Information on deferral, late submissions and IMCS
You can find specific information on deferring assessment, late submissions, and Individual Mitigating Circumstances (IMCs), in the guide, COVID-19 No-detriment measures for taught student outcomes. Support is also available from the SU Advice & Support Centre.
Types of alternative assessment
Exams at the University of Bath usually take the form of invigilated, handwritten exams taken in timed conditions on campus. For this exam period you will instead attempt your assessment on your own, in your own space (e.g. your own home) within a time-limited window.
There are five main formats of alternative assessment that you may be expected to attempt during the exam period.
Open-book exams – taken at home, these require you to complete a task and submit your work within a strict time limit (an ‘assessment window’). The assessment window will typically be 24 to 48 hours, but may be longer, or shorter. The exam itself is normally designed to take less time than provided in the assessment window. For example: the assessment window might be 24 hours but you would be expected to spend 2-3 hours on the exam itself. You can start, and finish, at any time to suit your circumstances within that 24 hour window; you are not expected to submit after the recommended 2-3 hours (unless you are taking a quiz; see below). This might mean that you have exams several days in a row, just as you would if exams were held on campus. However, you should have plenty of time to complete the assignments. Your unit convenor or Director of Studies should provide you with information on the length of time you should spend on your assignment, in advance of the exam.
Coursework – you will be expected to research a topic and produce a piece of work within a specified time.
Quizzes – These are normally multiple choice or single word answers. Rather than downloading the questions you will attempt the quiz in Moodle within a time-limited assessment window. Once you decide to start the quiz, you may have restricted time to complete it (for example, two hours). Your exam instructions will confirm any restrictions.
Recorded exams – You will be required to record yourself delivering a piece of work, for example a presentation or an oral exam. You will upload your attempt to Re:View.
Live exams – You might be asked to make a group presentation or sit an oral exam, online in real time. These will normally be held using Microsoft Teams and your exam instructions will provide details.
If your assessment is not listed above, your department will provide you with information on the format.
The majority of on campus exams have been replaced with online exams. These are designed to be taken within a limited period. You will not normally be expected, or given the time, to research or learn new topics to complete the assignments. Therefore, we strongly advise you to revise as you would for an assessment taken under standard exam conditions. You may find that your exam has been replaced with coursework, in which case, according to the instructions from your department, you may be expected to undertake research to complete the assignment by the deadline. See Preparing for your exams for further advice.
In an open-book assignment, you are allowed access to your textbooks, notes and other resources. However, you mustn’t seek additional assistance, from any person, persons or organisation, during the assessment unless your exam paper explicitly states this is allowed (e.g. when working on a group presentation). For further information see Academic Integrity.
Once you have finished, you will submit your work as instructed on your exam paper, usually through Moodle in PDF format. A link to full instructions will be provided on your exam paper or Moodle. You can also find instructions for downloading and submitting assessments on the Learning and Teaching @Bath hub.
The semester 2 exam period for 2019/20 runs from 11 May to 12 June 2020. For this Semester, we have added two weeks to the assessment period to accommodate the change to assessments, and to provide students with enough time to complete their exams.
Your exam timetable is available on the Exams webpage.
Your exam’s window will open at a specified time between 9am and 5pm British Summer Time (BST), Monday to Friday. The deadline to submit will also fall between 9am and 5pm (BST) on a Monday to Friday. You will be able to work on your exam at any point during the assessment window but should only spend the time recommended on your paper to complete the exam. If you are attempting a Moodle quiz you may have limited time to finish the quiz once you have made a start. See Types of alternative assessment for further information. If you aren’t based in the UK, you should plan your exam attempt around your local time zone, as it falls into the BST window. You should also check the settings in your Moodle profile to ensure you are set up correctly for the timezone you are in.
Please bear in mind that you may have multiple exams in a week, and the timings of these may overlap. However, you will be able to start work on your exam at any point during the assessment window. You will need to manage your time accordingly to make time for sleep, meals, caring / family responsibilities, exercise etc. (See also Preparing for your exams)
Accessing exam papers
In advance of each assessment you will be informed of what to expect, including where to find the assignment, and any equipment or materials you will need to complete the assessment. This information will normally be made available on your Moodle unit course page. The full exam paper will normally be released on your Moodle unit course page at the time listed on your exam schedule.
You must complete and upload your exam by the submission deadline.
Academic integrity (including plagiarism and cheating)
When you registered at the University you agreed to read and to abide by the University’s Regulations for Students and your programme handbook both of which include the references to, and penalties for, unfair practices such as plagiarism, fabrication or falsification. Your exam paper includes a rubric with instructions for completing the examination. Here, you will also be reminded of the requirement for academic integrity.
For open-book exams you may refer to your own course and revision notes and look up information in offline or online resources, for example textbooks or online journals. However, you may not communicate with any person, persons or organisation about the assessment before the submission deadline, unless explicitly permitted to do so in the instructions on your exam paper.
When you submit your assessment, you will be asked to agree to the University’s academic integrity declaration and confirm the work is your own. The use of the work of others, and your own past work, must be referenced appropriately. Your department will be able to provide you with further advice about the approach for your subject area.
Written work may be analysed by the University’s plagiarism detection software, Urkund. The University will be looking for signs of cheating and is bringing in additional measures to combat assessment offences, this year. Depending on the severity of the offence, you may be asked to leave the University if you are caught cheating.
If you are in any doubt about the rules for referencing please refer to the University’s academic integrity training.
Alternative arrangements for exams (Disability Access Plans)
Some students are entitled to alternative exam arrangements due to disabilities or long-term health conditions. These are set out in an agreed Disability Access Plan (DAP).
For many students the open-book exam format will provide a longer period for you to attempt your assessment and negate your previous requirements for alternative exam arrangements such as extra time, rest breaks or a specific type of venue. However, if you would like to review or discuss your support requirements ahead of the exams period, please contact the Disability Service as soon as possible.
If you are using any assistive software (e.g. screen reader/text-to-speech etc.) you should familiarise yourself with how it works before the exam period. It is important that you establish your own way of working ahead of the exams so that you are relaxed and confident when they begin. (See also Preparing for your Exams)
Exam support worker
You may have an entitlement to an exam support worker (e.g. reader/scribe/prompter). If you are taking up this support, we advise that you have a practice session prior to the exam period to familiarise yourself with the new process. Please contact the Disability Service as soon as possible if you are unsure about any of your disability support.
The Disability Service is available to provide further support and advice before and during the exam period.
Preparing for your exams
You should prepare for your exams as you normally would – through sticking to a reasonable revision schedule, accessing past papers and materials to practice questions etc. Make sure you also look after your mental and physical health by taking breaks, trying to get some exercise and eating as you would normally.
You can find help with your exams and assessments on the Academic Skills blog produced by the Skills Centre. There is specific guidance on open-book exams, as well as advice on revision and short presentations on academic writing, there is useful advice and tips including:
- Top ten tips for exam preparation
- Top tips for taking open book exams 1 – preparation
- Top tips for taking open book exams 2 - on the day
- Mastering multiple choice question exams
You can also get help with your writing by booking a 1:1 online academic writing tutorial.
Familiarise yourself in advance with how to upload your assessment
You may find that for your exam you are asked to create and upload an assessment in a way that you’ve not previously been required to do. For example, you may need to convert your completed paper into a PDF, create a PDF from your photos of handwritten notes, or create a video for a presentation. Scripts must be legible, with each page upright, and all pages in order. If you have been given permission to write all or part of your exam by hand, dark (black or blue) ink must be used. It is not possible to assess an illegible script.
Before each of your assessment windows opens, it is strongly recommended that you attempt a practice run at creating files in these formats using the step-by-step guide provided at the University’s teaching hub. This will help you feel more at ease during the assessment window and better able to concentrate on getting your exam work complete.
Your wellbeing during exams
We recognise you may be entering into a potentially stressful period during your assessments and, given the current circumstances around COVID-19, this could become amplified, so it is very important you look after yourself. Please find below some recommendations on simple strategies you can implement and access on how to maintain a healthy balance:
Creating a study routine
We are all getting used to new ways of working and studying, so firstly it is important to create a clear dedicated study space that is free from clutter and distractions. Set up a calm and dedicated study environment, and have a daily sweep of this to make sure it is conducive to study. (See also Create your own exam conditions)
Set a clear plan for the day. Give tasks your full attention, switch off all distractions and have dedicated time to focus on your revision. You could try the ‘Pomodoro technique’ - where you study in short, sharp bursts with breaks in between.
Focus on self-care
In response to the current pandemic, lots of apps and services from fitness to mindfulness and meditation have been offering free access. Gentle and regular exercise can also provide natural breaks within your day and allow you to recharge and refocus.
As we are spending most of the day in our homes we are never far away from the biscuit cupboard. It is important to try and not overindulge in sugary foods and to try and maintain stable blood sugar levels to facilitate good levels of concentration.
Try to avoid speculation
The news can be a constant source of distraction, and if viewed too much can unhelpfully raise our anxiety levels. Try to follow the news in a time-limited way and avoid continually refreshing screens for updates as this can make you feel ‘on-alert’ or ‘on-edge’. We also recommend sticking to reputable sites and well-established news corporations.
Undertake positive reflection activities
It is very easy at the moment to get drawn into thinking about the bigger picture of this situation and the future with catastrophic thoughts about what is going to happen. We advise bringing things back to the here and now. Think about what you are grateful for, reflect on what has gone well during your day – no matter how small that thing is - and set yourself small achievable tasks, ensuring you do something for yourself just for you each day that you enjoy. This will help centre and promote a more balanced frame of mind, which will contribute towards being more effective and present in the here and now.
Reach out and get support if you need to
We are all individuals who need support at different times and in different circumstances. Please do think about your support network, family or friends and reach out to them where you feel comfortable. You can also arrange a phone or video call with the Wellbeing Service for support and guidance.
The Student Services team are available for support.
The Exam Stress Podcast has general guidance on understanding exam stress, how to manage it and tips to prepare for the exam period.
Silvercloud is an online self-help platform for wellbeing and mental health which offers secure access to online CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) programmes.
Read Well provides a selection of over 50 books that can support your health and wellbeing, with topics including anxiety, stress and general development.
Anxiety Aid: Coping in the time of coronavirus is a free online course for Bath students struggling to keep worry and anxiety in check.
On the day of your assessment: key points
A few key things to think about when taking an exam are:
- Punctuality: make sure you are prepared to start and finish your assessment within the times given, and that you have a way to keep track of time – you might find it helpful to set alarms
- When the ‘clock starts ticking’: stay calm and take the time to read instructions and the questions carefully
- Technical aspects: whenever possible test your internet connection and computer in advance. Make sure you have any chargers or cables with you – you might want to use an Ethernet cable if your Wi-Fi is unreliable
- Alert your family or house-mates to the fact that you are doing an exam. They should avoid distracting you, and may also be able to limit their broadband usage while you are working
Create your own exam conditions
You should try as much as possible to create a quiet, comfortable space in which to take your assessments. A checklist of things you may find useful to have is:
- A desk or table
- A comfortable chair
- Adequate lighting
- An internet-connected computer with Microsoft Word or equivalent
- If you are hand-writing your answers, you will need to be able to scan or photograph pages for submission.
- Heating or cooling arrangements
- A way to monitor your time, e.g. regular alarms
- Your books, notes, and other resources
- Your student number, single sign on (SSO) and password
- Drinking water and snacks, etc
You should check in advance of the assessment what materials you are permitted to have with you during the exam (e.g. calculators, textbooks, notes etc.) and ensure these are easily accessible.
You might find headphones useful to block out noise, and we would also recommend turning off any devices (for example, your phone) which might distract you.
If you are taking an open-book exam the additional time will allow you to access and download the exam paper, consult any reference material if appropriate, check your responses and prepare and upload your script. It also takes account of the fact that there may be distractions or possibly minor problems, such as a poor internet connection. How long you spend on the exam is up to you, but for some exams there will be a maximum permitted word count which will help to guide time spent.
If you aren’t based in the UK, you will be able to plan your time to attempt your assessment so that it best fits with your own time zone. However, you must still submit your exam by the deadline set in British Summer Time (BST).
How to submit your exam
You will be expected to submit your assessment as instructed on your exam paper or Moodle. This might look a little different to what you would normally do for an assessment.
Follow the step-by-step instructions
The University has provided step-by-step instructions on how to submit your exam for each type of assessment and format. In most cases this will require you to upload a paper in PDF format to Moodle. However, you might be expected to submit your assessment a little differently, for example by taking pictures of your written notes and converting these into a PDF, or videoing yourself for a presentation. Check the instructions on your exam paper and on the Moodle unit carefully, and well in advance of submitting your assessment.
Read your exam’s instructions carefully and give yourself time to make sure you submit your assessment in the correct format. You should also give yourself plenty of time to submit your paper. This will reduce the risk of any unexpected technical issues preventing you from submitting by the deadline. We also may not be able to accept a submission that is in the wrong format, so make sure you check your file once it's uploaded.
Make sure you clearly identify yourself on your submission
Where possible, and unless stated otherwise on your exam paper, you must include your name and student ID at the top of your assessment.
Use the standard file name format
Due to the volume of submissions through Moodle, examinations will not be anonymous this semester. Unless specified by your exam paper, you must use the following naming convention for your file:
We suggest using capital letters rather than underscores or spaces between words in a file name (eg JonesPeter123456789ED50326.pdf).
Check your file after it's uploaded
You should double-check your submission once you've submitted it on Moodle or other systems to ensure it has uploaded correctly. If the file is corrupted, it will not be possible to assess your work and it will be treated as a non-submission.
What if I upload the wrong attachment?
Make sure you give yourself lots of time during the assessment window to check your file format before you submit your assessment. However, if you do upload the wrong file by accident and the submission deadline has not passed, you will be able to upload a new file to replace your previous submission. You will receive an email notification that your submission has been successfully uploaded.
Keep a copy of your work
Please remember to keep a copy of your submitted script for yourself.
Issues submitting your assessment, or missing the deadline
You should make every effort to submit your assessment by the deadline set on your exam paper. Generally, you are not expected to spend the whole of the assessment window working on your assignment. You should have been given enough time to take account of any distractions or minor issues you might encounter. Therefore, try to complete the assignment in the suggested time and upload it well in advance of the deadline.
If you are unable to attempt or submit an exam by the deadline, for any reason, your assessment will automatically be deferred to the supplementary assessment period, when you will take a new exam, as for the first time. You do not have to notify anyone of this.
Though it is not required, we strongly encourage you to let your Director of Studies know if you will need to defer your assessment. They will be able to give you advice and/or direct you to pastoral support if you are having difficulties. If something goes wrong during the exam, try to stay calm. You will normally have time to resolve any difficulties. Please bear in mind the following points:
- The Board of Examiners considering your result will take account of COVID-19 disruption when considering whether you should progress or graduate, just as if you had applied for an IMC
- If you fail and have to do supplementary assessment, you will have the opportunity to do a new exam as for the first time during the supplementary assessment period
- You may be eligible for the classification ‘safety-net'
We recommend that you attempt the submission even if you are very close to the deadline. If submit your exam beyond the deadline, your attempt will be deferred to the supplementary assessment period.
For further information on all the no-detriment measures that will apply to you, please read the University’s COVID-19: No-detriment measures for taught student outcomes.
If you are doing coursework and you think that you will not be able to submit on time, you should ask for an extension, as normal. If you submit coursework beyond the deadline, without permission, your mark will be capped. Please read Section 8 of QA16 Assessment, Marking and Feedback for further information about seeking coursework extensions, and penalties for late submission.
Technical issues and queries
Before the assessment window opens
Contact your Director of Studies, Personal Tutor or Unit Convenor, as appropriate, with any questions about your assessments.
Once the exam has started
You should not normally approach your department. During your exam help and advice is available.
If you need to speak to someone urgently, please call our emergency telephone support line on +44 (0)1225 387500. The line is open from 8am to 6pm British Summer Time, Monday to Friday throughout the assessment period.
What to do in the event of a University-wide technical failure
If there is a technical failure with a University system that affects your assessment, for instance with Single Sign-On or Moodle, please wait until the relevant system is available again in order to continue or to submit your assignment. Information on the current status of systems is available at: https://status.bath.ac.uk/. We will attempt to notify you that the system is up and running once the problem is fixed. If there is a University-wide system failure, we will accept a late submission as long as you submit:
a. within an hour of the original deadline, if the fault lasts for less than an hour or occurs before 4pm (BST)
b. within 24 hours of the original deadline, if the fault lasts for more than an hour or occurs after 4pm (BST)
If you are attempting a Moodle quiz, at the time of the system failure, you will receive instructions on how to restart the quiz once normal service is resumed.
If you think you’ve spotted an error in the exam paper
If you believe you have found an error in the paper, make a note of the error on your script and attempt the question or task to the best of your ability. There is no need to notify a member of staff as they will not be able to take any action to rectify the error.
The impact of any errors will be taken into consideration when your results are reviewed by the Board of Examiners for Units.
Further sources of support
During the exam period, a wide range of support and guidance across the University continues to be available to you. This includes: