Exams Student-made

My online exam experience and top tips for students

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The Covid-19 pandemic has altered everyone’s lives significantly and students have certainly not been exempt from this. Over the last year, we’ve been unable to return to University and sit our examinations as normal, which meant having to undertake online assessments. And it looks like this semester’s will remain largely online too.

Online examinations were definitely daunting at first because they were the ‘unknown’ for so many of us. However, the final overwhelming opinion from my friends seems to be that they really helped to alleviate exam stress and allow students to study for subject knowledge rather than to simply pass an exam.

After sitting numerous online exams to date, I thought this would be a good time to share my experiences and give you some of my helpful tips for the upcoming assessment period. .

How to study for an online examination

Online exams have definitely been beneficial for me. I find  myself thinking less about the practicalities of an examination and, instead, focusing my attention on revision. I really appreciate having the time to read into topics and study them in depth, rather than memorising superficial information to pass a test.

So, I would recommend using this opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of your subject area and expand your knowledge further than the curriculum, especially if your exam is open book. It is also helpful to condense content into concise and reader friendly notes. This will enable quick access to information during the examination and provide you with a resource bank of material for the future.

It is important to note that revision is still essential, even for online examinations. A lack of adequate preparation will only result in an unnecessary amount of stress during the exam. Find comfort in knowing that you have power over the exam, perhaps more so than you ever have.

Where to sit your online examination

Perhaps the strangest part of the online format was sitting down at my desk rather than in an examination hall. I really benefited from the new circumstances and definitely felt less apprehensive. There was no exam hall, intimidating invigilators or hundreds of students tapping their pens – the perfect examination conditions, if you ask me!

Even though you are in the comfort of your own home, I would encourage you to ensure that you are fully dressed, well fuelled, and in a sensible study space (which does not include your bed) . Triple check your Wifi connection before beginning and make sure your household knows to keep the noise down. If you experience any technical issues, stay calm and make a note of them before contacting your examination lead. They will understand  complications  can occur with technology and will not penalise you for something beyond your control.

Online exams do not have to mimic a traditional exam format, the beauty of this assessment style is that you are in full control of your environment. It is important to be as comfortable as possible and if that means having a cup of tea or hot water bottle by your side, then so be it.

When to do your online examinations

Sometimes, I feel so rushed in a traditional exam that it is hard to gather my thoughts and construct a coherent answer. The lack of time pressure in an online exam means that all my answers are much more considered and structured better.

Do not expect to complete all your exams in one day. Rome was not built in a day, right? Take the time to go through them and give yourself regular breaks to reorientate your thoughts. Use the extra time to really think about the questions and how to answer them to the best of your ability.

Final thoughts

There has been some controversy as to whether online exams are as effective as the normal format. I, personally, praise the online assessment system. I find it less stressful, less complicated, and feel that it  assesses capabilities beyond memorisation. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I enjoyed taking these exams, but they were about as good as an exam could get.

Remember to stay calm, prepare, and do your best. That is all anyone can ask of you, online or in person.

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