Online Exam Uncertainty

Emily Sinclair

Ah yes, online exams… the new phenomenon that universities have resorted to since COVID-19. 

As a humanities student, exams are pretty few and far between which to be honest I don’t mind. I know it’s a mixed bag of opinions but I definitely thrive under the process of creating an essay, even if by the end of it I always do need a full week to recover! My problem, therefore, comes with the fact online exams are scheduled between a certain time-frame, pretty random in duration and often overlapping into the weekend… I just don’t really understand. 

A few weeks ago I had an online exam between 13:30 and 17:30. Now, in my opinion this is just a bit of a rubbish time! I woke up, went on a walk, made some elaborate lunch, twiddled my thumbs and the exam hadn’t even started! Surely it would have made more sense for me to be able to start the exam whenever I wanted? Or at least in the morning? I understand the University not wanting to increase the chance of plagiarism, with some students being able to tell others the questions before they start, but with a humanities subject theres an argument as to how much this would actually benefit.

The other species of online exam that has become increasingly common amongst university departments is… you guessed it… the 24-hour and 48-hour exams. Quite frankly, these are disgusting! They don’t take into account the students that will work the whole time and produce top-level essays versus those that will actually follow the brief and let themselves sleep! The playing field just isn’t fair. Equally, these exams often go into weekends, what’s the point in that?

I’m just not fully convinced quite yet that online exams are the way forward. They add a whole extra layer of pressure and often just extend the pain for longer.