Sitting for Remote Exams

The pandemic has greatly shifted the way we learn and the way we are assessed. GCSEs have been cancelled to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and classes have been shifted to an online setting for most of the year too. With the limited amount of physical interaction, we have had with our peers and our teachers, students all around the world have found themselves with an extra task of adapting to the new learning setting on top of keeping up with their studies.

University life has been greatly shifted as well. The Imperial campus has been closed for most of the year apart from the central library. Classes and tutorials have mostly been shifted to an online setting to keep students safe and to allow international students to participate in lectures too from their home countries. The Union Bar has only just been reopened recently, allowing students to dine outdoors in groups of 6s. This year, exams have been made remote as well, and timings of exams have been shifted to accommodate to different time zones. As this is the second year where we have to sit for remote exams, I find myself less anxious as compared to the previous year as after a year of remote learning, I find myself quite accustomed to submitting remote papers and files, and also working in the comforts of my own home. Through this blog, I hope to give everyone a bit of insights on how University exams have been changed and how students are adapting to the new norm.

How Do Remote Exams Work?

Remote exams are timed exactly like normal exams. Instead of having an examiner place the exam sheet on your table, an exam sheet is sent to your emails as soon as the exam begins. Students are then required to download the PDF file and begin their papers. Just like normal exams, students are not allowed to write and submit their answers in digital formats, but should instead all work on pen and paper. Some students have raised concerns that exams have been made tougher due to the fact that remote exams are all considered to be ‘open booked’. However, I personally realized that regardless of the difficulty of the exams, questions asked have been shifted to assess our understanding more. Since it is pointless to ask questions such as define the first Newtonian viscosity of an engine oil, questions have been shaped to assess our thinking and whether we are able to understand and apply the knowledge taught in classes.

In my own opinion, I much prefer the new types of questions which are being brewed. Instead of fussing about trying to memorize every formula in my notes, I find myself putting in more time and effort to understand the content being taught instead. Combining this with the fact that remote learning allows me to have a more flexible schedule, I find myself enjoying the content being taught much more this year as I get to study whenever I am in the mood for by watching recorded lectures. Even though the length of our exams are the same, we are allowed an extra 45 minutes to scan all of our papers and submit a PDF file. When I first heard about this, I was surprised about the amount of additional time given for scanning. I thought it was too much in excess, but little did I know that so much skill and precision is required in order to scan a paper that is legible. The lighting must be on point, your hands must stop shaking, and a whole lot of factors need to be combined in order to scan a document without your examiner constantly squinting their eyes. Luckily, we have had a lot of prior training given by our department before our actual exams.

Some people are concerned about the integrity required to take remote exams, as it is so often tempting to collaborate with other people. Even though there might not be a proper way to prevent that from occurring, I believe that at the end of the day, the results that we obtain only mean so much to us. What is more important in my opinion is to be proud of our own achievements and how far we have come since the start of the year. Regardless of how our results turn out, we should all be proud of ourselves for achieving this much in this particularly challenging year. That being said, I still cannot wait for the day where things go back to normal and be able to sit for my potentially final exams in my life next year in person.

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