Frequently asked questions on online assessments

Do you have questions about how online assessments are being done at Imperial? Our FAQS below have lots of specific guidance, including equipment, resits, and wellbeing support.

Can I defer my remote assessment to the next available sitting because of the impact of Covid-19?

You will be expected to take the assessment now. However the College has taken account of the impact of Covid-19 by updating its categories within the College’s Mitigating Circumstances Policy. The Policy is being kept under review as the circumstances we find ourselves in are changing. Please see the paragraphs on Mitigating Circumstances below.

We understand that this is a stressful time and that you may not be able to provide supporting evidence. 

If you need to defer your examination, you will need to submit a claim for mitigating circumstances. You should follow the normal processes in your department to submit a request.

My exam is now remote, can I use any textbooks while completing the exam?

The decision will be made by your department as to whether the time-limited remote assessment is open book or not. This may differ from one module to another depending on the nature of the exam. Guidance will be given before you sit your exam, as well as a clear statement of expectations. 

Whether open or closed book, you will be expected to undertake the assessment on your own. It is not a group exercise.

My exam is now remote, what equipment, packages and applications will I need?

Your Department will make it clear what equipment is required in order to undertake the examination and to upload your answers. This may vary from department to department or assessment to assessment. You will need to ensure that your equipment is working, and you have access to the packages and applications being used in advance.

My exam is now remote, so can I now type all my answers?

The expectation is that you will complete the remote assessment as you would have done for an examination in an Imperial examination hall. You will be expected to write your answers on paper, which you will need to provide yourself. The only exception to this will be where a Department has specifically allowed a departure from this and you will be informed by them in due course, or if you have submitted a request for additional exam arrangements and have been allowed the use of a PC to type your answers. 

If I have to defer my remote assessment or if I fail it at the first sitting and have to resit later in the summer, will that assessment be in the same format?

Yes, all examinations for the remainder of the 2019/20 academic year are expected to be delivered remotely, including deferred or re-sit examinations and will be in the same format.

What do I do if I can’t figure out how to submit my remote assessment online?

Your department will make the submission procedure clear to you as part of the instructions for your assessment. The College is taking steps to ensure that it can support you. Departments are making preparations for a practise run and/or online instruction materials and will advise you how to access this support.

As the exam is now being delivered as a time-limited remote assessment, how will the College take into consideration the different time zones?

Departments may choose to schedule the remote assessments will take place on the date/UK time that has been published, or vary the start time by up to five hours within the day set for the assessment. If your Department informs you of a change, this would apply to all students taking a given piece of remote assessment. You should be aware of the change to British Summer Time (GMT + 1) on 29 March 2020, and note the differences in your time zones. 

Will there be training materials for how to undertake a timed remote assessment available online?

Any submissions you have to make online will be clearly signposted and you will be provided with guidance and support.  Wherever possible, the College will endeavour to make available a practise opportunity for submission and/or online instruction materials. Your department will contact you with details of the practise and we advise all students to do this. 

How will additional exam requirements - such as extra time - be factored into remote exams?

If the College has approved these additional exam arrangements for you, such as extra writing time or rest breaks, these will still stand, where possible. The Disability Advisory Service has been providing guidance on the impact of the move to timed remote assessment, and information on this will be provided to your Department shortly.

If there is a problem with an examination paper, how will I get in touch with the examiner?

The Department will provide you with information on who and how to contact if you believe there is a problem with the examination paper. You will also be told how the department will communicate any confirmed errors back to you and the rest of the examination candidates.

Can I sit my exams overseas in the resit period if I am overseas and cannot return to the UK? 

Yes. Exams will be at the UK time as set and scheduled and you will be advised of any amendments to the timetable.  

I am a student from a previous cohort resitting an exam now, can I sit my exam online?

Yes. You will have the same arrangements as those sitting for the first time.

How will you ensure the integrity of the remote assessments and stop cheating?

We trust our students to act with integrity and to adhere to the guidance on academic integrity. However, if there is a concern that a student has not followed the code of conduct expected, the College has a range of options at its disposal. To assist the examiners and the Boards of Examiners in assuring that the assessment process has been conducted fairly and in accordance with the agreed marking schemes the College reserves its right to impose additional forms of assessment including individual student vivas.

What if students need to use specific software that they do not have on their laptop?

Departments will endeavour to select software that should works for all of their students. Please note that some countries have higher levels of control of the internet which can impact access to certain services and software. Find out more about internet censorship and read our accessing services when off campus web pages for additional information. Because of the move to remote assessment, there may be a need to use additional software not normally required.

If you have concerns about the equipment you have or the software being used, you should raise these with your department, so we can work with you ahead of the assessment date to ensure that you are prepared.

What if I have a problem uploading my answers?

The Department will provide instructions on what you need to do in the event that you have a problem. This will also be available in the practise run.

I cannot find any quiet place to do my remote assessment

We understand this might be challenging for some of our students, especially in view of government directives on staying at home, which may still be in place at the time of your remote assessment. We ask that prior to your class or your exam you alert your department if you feel you are having difficulty finding a suitable quiet place.

Can I borrow a laptop from the College? 

Students should use their own equipment, where possible. If there is an issue with access to equipment, you can seek advice from your department. If you can demonstrate hardship, you may be able to apply for funds through the College’s Student Support Fund. We recommend you apply directly to the Laptop Support Fund. The College will do what it can to support you.

What if I am anxious about the remote assessment or I feel isolated. Where can I get support?

If you are feeling isolated and unsupported, it’s important to reach out to your department, friends and family.

There is information and guidance on our Student Services webpages. Although we have moved to remote working, services can still be contacted to provide individual advice and support, in addition to the support available in your department.

Student Minds has useful information for those who are feeling anxious about Coronavirus and Mind has information on how to take care of your mental wellbeing when social distancing if you have an ongoing mental health condition.

How do I deal with the impact of social distancing on my wellbeing?

Social distancing may seem daunting, so it’s important to take small steps to support your wellbeing. Many organisations have published useful information on how to look after your wellbeing when social distancing, including Student Minds, Mind and Every Mind Matters. It’s important to:

  • Stay connected – schedule in time to have video or phone calls with friends and family. There are plenty of things to do together in the virtual world, including live sing-a-longs, pub quizzes and Netflix parties.
  • Structure your days – it’s important to treat your time at home like a normal day. Set-up a space where you feel comfortable studying and working, schedule in break times and relaxation during the evenings.
  • Reach out if you need support – the College’s Student Services are operating remotely and can still be contacted to provide individual advice and support, in addition to the support available in your department.

Our Chaplaincy Multi-Faith Centre is keeping our community connected via their remote meditation sessions three times a week. If you’re feeling particularly anxious and isolated they also offer 1-2-1 pastoral support.

What if I am anxious about the impact of Covid-19?

These are some useful tips from the Mental Health Foundation:

  • Try to avoid speculation and look up reputable sources on the outbreak
  • Try to stay connected at times of stress - we work better in company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family
  • Try to anticipate distress – it’s normal to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed. It is important to acknowledge these feelings

Am I going to graduate later than I expected as a result of the impact of Covid-19?

The College is doing all it can to ensure that you can graduate on time. The assessment of your work, marking and grading, is expected to take place in the same timeframe as normal, as far as possible. The Boards of Examiners are aiming to meet at the times that were set before the changes brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, to aim to deliver your results and awards in the normal timeframe.

Can I submit as mitigating circumstances?

We understand that this is a stressful time for many of you, and you may have concerns about the impact of Covid-19 on your ability to undertake coursework and assessments as a result of changes to your circumstances.

The College’s has provided guidance to Mitigating Circumstances Boards to take this into account. The list below provides examples of circumstances where you may wish to submit a mitigating circumstances claim:

  • If you have been diagnosed with Covid-19.
  • If you were instructed to self-isolate  to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including as a result of living on shared accommodation.
  • Where you travelled and were then required to undertake a period of quarantine, as a result of UK or any other government advice in the country in which you are currently resident.
  • Where travel restrictions prevented you from you gaining entry into or travel within the UK to attend on-site assessments, where these were available.
  • If you were unable to participate in a timed remote assessment due to unexpected travel arrangements or were not equipped to undertake the assessment between 9 March and 4 April 2020.
  • If your assessment preparation activities have been impacted by COVID-19 related circumstances (both for exams and coursework, and in relation to changed plans/deadlines).
  • If you do not have access to the equipment or facilities to prepare for or undertake coursework/a time remote assessment (for example no access to a computer, internet, or specialist software).
  • Where you are undertaking caring responsibilities in your household such as siblings, relatives with illness, or other caring commitments; recognising that it may be difficult to provide evidence of these particular circumstances.
  • Where your circumstances affect your ability to prepare for or undertake coursework/a time remote assessment. This may include the timing of the remote assessment for students in particular time zones falling outside the College defined reasonable hours 06.00 – 21.00, disturbances in the place you prepare for/take the assessment, internet connection issues, technical issues such as failure of internet connection or devices, an inability to photograph and submit your assessment.

The list above is intended as a guide. We encourage you to discuss your individual circumstances and any specific concerns you may have with your Senior Tutor.

What evidence do I need to include in my mitigating circumstances application?

We understand that in many cases it may be difficult for you to provide documentary evidence as part of your mitigating circumstances application. You are able to self-certify for a period of up to 14 days.

You should provide as much information about your circumstances in your application as possible.

Where you have been instructed to self-isolate/quarantine, you should include the reason (e.g. confirmed/suspected Covid-19 diagnosis, government advice, as a result of travel) and the start and end date of self-isolation/quarantine in your application.

Where your circumstances have been affected for more than 14 days, please discuss this with your Senior Tutor, or equivalent.

When can I submit a mitigating circumstances application?

We encourage you to discuss your individual circumstances and any concerns you may have with your Senior Tutor as soon as possible. You should submit your claim no later than 10 days after the timed remote assessment deadline.

What if I miss the mitigating circumstances deadline?

You may still submit a late mitigating circumstances application, and you will need to provide a credible and compelling reason why the circumstances were not known, or could how have been shown/notified before the deadline.

What will happen after I submit my claim?

Your application will be considered by your department’s Mitigating Circumstances Board as usual.

Your department Mitigating Circumstances Board will consider all applications made to them in accordance with the Policy and in a supportive manner, using the information that you have provided to them. The MCB will then make a recommendation of an outcome to the Board of Examiners as in the current policy section 8.6 – 8.9. The department will inform you of their decision to accept or reject the application as soon as practical.

Mitigating circumstances policy and procedure (pdf)

The acceptance of Mitigating Circumstances does not add additional marks to your assessments, but may be used to allow you to take the assessment at a later date or to allow a late submission of coursework to be accepted without a capped mark. Where you have passed the module, the Board of Examiners can take these into account when making decisions about progression into the next year of the programme or the award.

My question has not been answered. Who should I contact?

We encourage you to discuss your individual circumstances and any specific concerns you may have with your Senior Tutor, or equivalent.