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Student Guide to Exams

Guidance to help you prepare for and take your exams. Last updated 21 November 2022.

This guide sets out what to expect for your exams. It is updated each assessment period, and was last updated for Semester 1 exams, 2022/23.

Please also read carefully any guidance provided by your department.

We recommend that you save a copy of this page as a PDF in case you are unable to access it during your exams.

Exam Schedule

Your personal Exam Schedule is available in SAMIS.

Find out more about your Exam Schedule.

Types of exams

There are several types of exams at Bath:

The type of exams you'll have will be shown on your Exam Schedule.

Open vs closed book

Your exam will either be open or closed book.

  • Open book exams are designed so that you may consult external sources such as textbooks and your own notes during the exam time. An open book exam may, or may not, be invigilated.

  • Closed book exams do not allow you to access any other sources of information during your scheduled exam time, unless you have been told this specifically in advance, or materials (such as a textbook) are provided by the University. Closed book exams are invigilated.

Timings for exams

Your exam will be either Fixed-time, Flexible-start or Open-24 hour.

  • Fixed-time exams are short-duration exams, scheduled to be taken in a specific time slot. The date, start and end times are shown on the Exam Schedule. All in-person exams are fixed time, and some remote Inspera exams.

  • Flexible-start exams are remote, short-duration Inspera exams that you can start at a time of your choosing within the 24-hour window specified on the exam schedule. Once you start, your exam will have a fixed time period to attempt it. Your attempt will finish either at the end of the time period, or at the end of the 24-hour window, whichever comes first. The exam duration gives you sufficient time to attempt, check and submit your exam, including uploading any files.

  • Open-24 hour exams are sat remotely using Inspera. The exam is open for 24 hours, but you will only be expected to work on the exam for the duration indicated on the schedule (e.g., two hours). The exam will close at the end of the 24-hour period.

Checking the type and details of your exam

You should check your Exam Schedule. You may have a combination of exam types, and up to two exams scheduled within the same 24-hour period. If this is the case, it will be possible to sit both exams within the 24-hour period. You will need to manage your time accordingly to allow for a break in between each exam.

If you have a Disability Access Plan you may have additional time. Please read the guide to alternative arrangements for exams (Disability Access Plans).

In-person exams

In-person exams take place on campus and are invigilated.

Further guidance on what to expect and how to prepare is provided in the guide to In-person exams.

If you are sitting an in-person exam using Inspera (as shown on your Exam Schedule) you should also read the guide to In-person Inspera exams. These exams are invigilated.

Inspera exams

Some exams are sat using the University’s assessment platform, Inspera.

Further guidance on what to expect and how to prepare for an Inspera exam is provided in the guide Inspera – the essentials.

If you are sitting an Inspera exam in-person and on campus you should also read the guide to In-person Inspera exams.

Academic integrity (including plagiarism and cheating)

The University expects all its students to commit to, and maintain, high standards of academic honesty and integrity.

Academic integrity means being honest about where you have sourced materials for your assignments, indicating which ideas are your own and which are from others. It also means only submitting work you have produced yourself, independently within the rules for that assessment.

Academic misconduct is defined by the University as “the use of unfair means in any examination or assessment procedure”. This includes (but is not limited to) cheating, collusion, plagiarism, contract cheating, fabrication, or falsification. The University’s Quality Assurance Code of Practice, QA53 Examination and Assessment Offences, sets out the consequences of committing an offence and the penalties that might be applied.

When you're sitting an invigilated, in-person exam, you are explicitly prohibited from having any unauthorised material or devices on you (including mobile phones and smart watches) or from communicating with anyone else during the exam. Your library card will also be checked to confirm the identity of the person sitting the exam.

By submitting an Inspera exam, you agree to the University’s academic integrity declaration, which explicitly confirms the work was produced by you independently.

If you are in any doubt about what may or may not be considered an academic offence, please refer to the University’s guidance on academic integrity during your exams.

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).

Further information on how to request alternative arrangements and how these will be put in place can be found in the guide to alternative arrangements for exams.

Preparing for your exams

General resources to help you prepare effectively for exams and specific support is available from the Skills Centre.

Depending on the type of exam you are sitting you should also read and follow the guides to:

Your wellbeing during exams

As you prepare for and sit your exams is very important you look after yourself.

Student Support provide a wide range of help and advice to support your wellbeing as you prepare for and attempt your exams.

Please find below some recommendations on simple strategies on how to maintain a healthy balance:

Create a study routine

Create a clear, dedicated study space that is free from clutter and distractions and have a daily sweep of this to make sure it is conducive to study.

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. You can try this out using the Be Well App.

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.

Focus on self-care

Lots of apps and services are available from fitness to mindfulness and meditation. Gentle and regular exercise can also provide natural breaks within your day and allow you to recharge and refocus. 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 on current events

The news can be a constant source of distraction, and if viewed too much can unhelpfully raise our anxiety levels. Try to 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 to get drawn into thinking about the bigger 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. You can use the Be Well app to help.

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. Be Well – Talk Now is a 24-hour confidential support service offered by Student Services which gives you immediate advice and support 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Further sources of wellbeing support

Student Support have created the Exam Stress Podcast, available on the Be Well app, which provides guidance on understanding exam stress, how to manage it and tips to prepare for the exam period.

The Be Well app has several resources that can support you during exams. You could use the Pomodoro timer to manage your time, listen to the mindfulness podcasts, try a breathing exercise to relax or listen to the short exam calm podcast just before entering your exam to ground yourself and prepare.

Read Well is a selection of over 50 books that can support your health and wellbeing, with topics including anxiety, stress and general development.

Exams issues and queries

Before the exam

Contact your Director of Studies, Personal Tutor or lecturer, as appropriate, with any questions about your assessments.

If you know in advance of your exam(s) that one or more exams are likely to be affected by illness (for example, ongoing health issues), you should speak to your Director of Studies for advice regarding your academic circumstances. You should also contact the Disability Service as soon as possible if you need to arrange for additional measures to be put in place to help you attempt your exam .

Once the exam has started

Feeling ill

You should attempt your exam at the time it is scheduled if you feel able and well enough to do so.

If you feel unable to attempt your exam(s) and it has already started, you will need to submit an Individual Mitigating Circumstances (IMC) claim for the missed exam(s) by the IMC deadline.

If you feel unwell and attempt your exam, you have the option to submit an Individual Mitigating Circumstances (IMC) claim if you think your illness had a significant impact on your performance. The deadline for an IMC is during or immediately after the formal assessment period, so you will not have your marks before deciding whether to submit a claim.

Other circumstances affect your exam attempt

If you are unable to attempt your exam, or you submit your exam and feel your performance was affected you may be able to apply for Individual Mitigating Circumstances (IMCs). There are guides that explain:

Help during remote Inspera exams

If you are taking a remote Inspera exam you must not contact your department during your exam attempt. Instead, please read the advice in the guide, Exams - get help and advice.

If you need to speak to someone urgently, a phone line runs during the day on weekdays.

What to do in the event of a University technical failure

If there is a technical failure with a University system that affects your attempt, for instance with Single Sign-On or Inspera, please wait until the relevant system is available again to continue or to submit your assignment. Information on the status of systems is available on the University of Bath IT status webpage. We will attempt to notify you that the affected system is up and running once the problem is fixed.

If you think you’ve spotted an error in an exam paper

If you believe you have found an error in the exam questions or instructions, you should 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 during your exam 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 results are reviewed by the Board of Examiners for Units.

Further sources of support

In the run up to, and during your exams, a wide range of support and guidance across the University continues to be available. This includes: