What Do Students Think of Online Exams?

What Do Students Think of Online Exams?

Exams were held online this spring, which was a change welcomed by some but disliked by others. We asked 32 students how they felt. Here’s what they had to say… 

Arts & Humanities
“We had three essays due the end of April. However, in light of the current situation, one professor cancelled the essay and the other two proceeded as normal with a week’s extension given. Overall, the department was quite understanding of their students’ needs and were not hesitant in handing out deadline extensions in case anyone needed them.” ~ Shuprima, Digital Culture

“I feel that my department really took everyone’s varying situations into consideration. All our exams were made prior disclosure (essentially, essays that we had a week to finish) and the word count was reduced to half for all essays. For one of our modules which had a mid-semester assignment, they gave us the option of not handing in a final essay at all.” ~ Nikita, English

“I had a very positive experience, just there was one confusing thing with the examinations coversheet for the faculty, but I’ve already voiced this during the SSLC meeting.” ~ Veronika, German and History

“It was incredibly stressful and hard to find the motivation to do my assignments.” ~ Sara, History

“I thought a having 24-hour open book online exams were useful to an extent. Though exams allowed me to answer 2 essay questions in 24 hours, I did find it a little hard to concentrate at home as I have young siblings.” ~ Anonymous, History

“It was unclear as to how much detail I had to give in my answers. Some descriptions said to treat the exams as if they were written, closed-book, and timed, so to be laissez-faire with details, quotes, and references. But, I don’t know if this was supposedly the case for all and, if it wasn’t, I wonder if I may have inadvertently underperformed in those exams. I’m a first-year, so ultimately the marks are pass-fail and it doesn’t matter, but I would have liked to know that my marks really do reflect my ability for my own sense of contentment.” ~ Anonymous, Liberal Arts

“I am unhappy with the way exams were carried on this semester because I believe there was a lack of organisation.  It is not fair to be informed that the weight of your essay will be increased from 50% to 100% (to make up for not having an exam). Overall, I think King’s suffered from a severe lack of organisation and tried to make the exam session in the easiest way possible without really thinking if that would be easiest or best for the students.” ~ Anonymous, Liberal Arts

“I had a 24 hour online exam and I found it a positive experience overall. I had the time to look at my notes and go in-depth in my answer, which I usually find hard to do in the rush of the in-person exams. As for the essays, not having access to library books made things a bit more complicated but I managed to find most of the material I needed online.” ~ Isabelle, Liberal Arts

“My only issue was with the practical modules because we rely on human contact and on the physical presence of examiners and an audience. In our case, we had to submit a recording of our recital pieces for the performance module, which didn’t prove ideal considering our amateur recording equipment and, in the case of soloists, the lack of accompaniment. What is more, another module that suffered from this format was aural skills, which is meant to test your practical musicianship. ~ Foivos, Music

“I prefer online exams to in-person exams. Plus not having to commute and get up at seven in the morning to get there is definitely better.” ~ Anonymous, Philosophy

European and International Studies
“Not any exams for my dept. but a couple with the modern language centre. It was okay, although the deadline was stressful given the amount of work that’s given.” ~ Anonymous, European Politics

“Google everything talk to friends” ~ Anonymous, Psychology

King’s Business School
“Overall experience is positive, however, there were issues with the word limits and page limits for some of the exams. Other than that, the university has been very supportive and helpful during these trying times.” ~ Anonymous, Banking and Finance MSc

“I think it was okay, even though it took me a lot of time (usually 8-10 hours) to finish the 24-hour exams it was still much less stressful than the usual exam period (especially with the safety net.)” ~ Fanni, Economics

“24-hour exams were on the whole less stressful than in hall exams where we have a limited amount of time. In that sense, it was easier. However, I found writing essays while stuck indoors was much more challenging and it was much easier to get distracted.” ~ Anonymous, Law

“There was a lack of sufficient notice for the exam dates and despite pleas and suggestions from students to alter the examination process to suit the exceptional circumstances this year, little was done by the department. However, it should be noted that we were allowed plenty of time to complete the assessments and I did not experience any errors when uploading my assignments.” ~ Anonymous, Law

“I hated it. I never want to do it again.” ~ Anonymous, Law

Life Sciences and Medicine
“The noise at home was difficult but the 24hrs facilitated the ability to take them at the quietest time and limit the stress of exams.” ~ Anonymous, Biomedical Science

“Positive: at least exams were open book. Negative: very different examinations across departments. I felt bioscience students had some of the strictest requirements (exams in all 7 subjects under a time limit of 1-2 hours) whereas I know history students whose assignments were cancelled and/or shortened. Time periods for examination were much more relaxed for others. I felt I definitely spent more time studying than students from other departments.” ~ Lynn, Neuroscience

Natural & Mathematical Sciences
“Not enough time was given, exams were based on memorising content so when it became open-book, it was basically a copy-paste paper. Questions were not made keeping in mind the open book pattern and topics that weren’t taught due to cancellation of classes showed up in mandatory sections of the paper.” ~ Rhea, Biomedical Engineering

“So much less stressful!” ~ Anonymous, Chemistry

“I thought exams this semester were beneficial because they were open book and in my case, there was no negative marking. However, I think that having online multiple-choice exams for Mathematics is not beneficial because it doesn’t give much room for little mistakes. In addition, in between exams the department sent collusion emails to students and asked them to have a misconduct hearing. These were extremely stressful and the fact that they were held before other exams was unfair. Finally, the reasons for accusing students were not transparent at all and were simply based on suspicion which should not be enough to accuse a student of cheating.” ~ Audrey, Mathematics & Philosophy

“Lack of clear instructions, being bombarded with emails every day, late replies from dept, just awful all in all. Should’ve cancelled exams in light of COVID-19 when everyone is so stressed already.” ~ Chris, Physics

“Pretty seamless. Couple of problems. Early exam times and hard to keep silence in the house with other family members.” ~ Dhruv, Physics MSci

Political Economy
“Mixed experience – one module extended our coursework deadline (originally 20th March) to the end of May. They also got rid of the exam we would have done. Second module replaced exam with essay, but the exam didn’t originally include a full essay and we were given little technique guidance on how to write an economics essay for the first time. However, we did have 7 weeks to do it and it was 1500 words so this was somewhat positive. They didn’t want to do the exam because it involved MCQs, however other departments just made it so the MCQ exams were timed: this would have been easier to revise for as the exam was the same format as one we did in January. The change to an unfamiliar essay perhaps caused extra stress.” ~ Eleanor, Political Economy

“Difficult, I felt like I did badly because it was impossible to concentrate in this environment, especially for low-income students who don’t live in big houses or even have a desk, I had to do essays and exams sitting in bed.” ~ Anonymous, Politics

News and Analytics Editor for Roar News. Digital Humanities student. Can be found taking incredibly long walks all over London.

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