Sitting a remote exam
You should revise for a remote exam the same way as if you were going to take it on campus. However, there is some additional advice on this page that will help you prepare.
Your department will be in touch with you to let you know about any specific materials you will need. If you have any questions or problems relating to your exams you should contact your department as soon as you can - they are there to help you.
If possible, it is a good idea to practice both sitting a remote exam and then scanning your answers, making sure in advance that you understand how your department has asked you to submit your answers. The submission process will be easier and less stressful if you have practiced it beforehand.
How to approach remote assessments
Before the exam
- Make sure that you know what time your exam starts and finishes. The UK is now on British Summer Time, and you should make sure in advance that you are absolutely certain of the timings if you are in a different time zone.
- If you can, try to find a quiet space where your computer or tablet has access to a good, stable internet connection. Make sure that others are aware that you’re taking an exam so that you’re not disturbed; consider putting a 'Do not disturb' sign on your door.
- Set up your workspace ahead of time and make sure that you have all necessary equipment to hand. Avoiding a last-minute panic will help you focus and do your best work.
- Although you will not be sitting in an exam room, it is important to remember that you will still need to give the questions your full focus. Try to minimise distractions (for example, turn off social media notifications) and, as far as you can, try to replicate your normal exam mindset.
- Occasionally announcements are made during an exam to clarify or correct a specific question. Make sure you know in advance how these will be communicated.
Sitting an open book exam
- If you’re sitting an ‘open-book’ exam, then you will be allowed to make use of relevant external resources permitted by your Department. That said, it is important to study for open-book exams just as you would for any exam. One of the top tips for revision is to be well-prepared and familiarise yourself with the key subject materials and concepts. If not, you might find it challenging to manage your time during the exam as there’s a risk that you will end up running out of time by spending too long looking up information and referring to your notes.
- To prepare for an open-book exam, it is useful to focus on learning for understanding rather than just memorising. If you wish to use your books/notes as reference resources, you need to develop an effective system that helps you to locate important information quickly (e.g. colour-coding the subject content, using sticky notes, preparing a concise summary for key concepts or a formula for quicker access to your books, notes and other materials). Remember that excessive materials can distract you, so decide what is important and useful to have on hand. It’s a good idea to try to practice this beforehand if you get a chance to do a practice exam.
During the exam
- First of all, read the instructions carefully. It may sound obvious, but important information about the number of questions you need to answer and how long you should spend on each one will be given to you in the instructions. Don’t let yourself be that student who didn’t turn over the exam paper and thought there was only one question.
- Make sure you know what information to include in the heading of each page. Don’t forget to number your pages.
- When writing your answers, use black or blue ink and avoid using pencil because it does not show up clearly when using some scanner applications. If you use pencil for diagrams, ensure the lines are black enough to be picked up by the scanner.
- Take care to write everything as clearly as possible and be aware that some details of what you write may be difficult to pick up when scanned.
- Where a question has several parts – (a), (b), etc – clearly indicate the part you are answering.
- Leave clear side margins on your answer pages to allow space for marker comments.
- As far as possible write on only one side of the paper, as this will make scanning easier.
- Read each question carefully so you know what you’re being asked to do. Mark up the ones you think you’ll be able to answer best.
- Allow yourself an appropriate amount of time for each question.
- When answering essay questions, focus on answering the question. It’s easy to go off-topic if you don’t plan ahead, so prepare a structure for your answer in advance. You might find it helpful to plan all your answers at the start of the exam, while your mind is fresh.
- If time allows, go back and check your work.
- If you find that you’re running out of time and still have some answers to write, try to give an outline for how you would answer the question – you are likely to get more marks for the attempt than you will for leaving a blank page.
After the exam
- When scanning your exam script, you will get the clearest picture if you use a distinct background colour from your white paper.
- Lay the pages flat on a dark surface, taking your picture from close enough to the paper to allow details to be picked up, while making sure that the margins on each side of the paper can still be seen.
- Try to scan in a room with plenty of existing light, avoiding shadows or flash across the page you are scanning.
- Check that the image is clear and not blurry.
- Don't forget to include a cover page for each file you will submit in line with the instructions provided by your Department.