We asked Lancs students what they’ve actually heard about their exams

‘I just know that they’re online and worth 50 per cent’

Exam season is just around the corner. For some students, exams might not be a big deal but for others they’re a source of stress. Either way, it would be easier for everyone if they had all of the necessary information and preparation in place as the final term of the year approaches.

Unfortunately, from our Instagram poll, 78 per cent of the students said that they’re yet to be notified on when, where and how their exams will take place. We spoke to some students in more detail and asked them what they think about the current situation with exams at Lancaster University.

“I just know that they’re online and worth 50 per cent”

Gemma, a first year student, told us how she found her exam information “published in the module handbooks,” however, even this is limited to the percentage the exam is weighted, rather than any specific details. She went on to say her exams “haven’t been mentioned by any lecturers once”, adding more pressure for students with impending exams in an already chaotic climate.

Changing the format of exams to online-only might seem like a positive outcome for some students who have a quiet environment to work in and a strong WiFi connection, but this isn’t the reality for everyone. Hannah, a first year physics student, told us: “The distraction of large noises curing exams completely threw me off”. Whether it’s the fact that you live on a busy road or around construction sites or you just have a full and noisy house, there are many possible issues that students might face. 

“They said it will be confirmed in summer term”

Generally speaking, most exam preparation and revision begins towards the end of the second term, giving students the Easter break and several weeks of summer term to prepare. This has been the structure of our education from when we sat our GCSEs in secondary school and we are used to having a substantial amount of time to prepare and revise for exams with aids from tutors.

Anna, a third-year law student, told us how her department have said that they will confirm the format of the exam in the summer term “giving them three weeks to prepare for the exam, as well as setting more coursework to complete in the meantime.”

“I have no idea what I’m going into”

Whilst some subjects are heavily exam based, others are dominated by coursework in the first and second year meaning that some third students may not have sat exams since their A-levels. “It’s very challenging”, third year English Literature and Language student, Leah, told us. “I’ve never sat any exams last year as they were all cancelled so I have no idea what I’m going into.”

She added: “I have no idea if they are open or closed book, when they will be, how long my answers are expected to be or how long I will have to complete them”. Many students appear to be in a similar situation, which we recognize can be very stressful, especially for those who’s education and assessment has already been hindered by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’ve sat four exams already – they were all horrid”

Though having no knowledge of exam formats seems to be a large contributor to student anxiety, it seems that those who know what to expect aren’t any better off. Hannah, a first year Physics student, told us that she had already sat exams during Lent term but felt that the format of the exams was not well planned, due to the department having to “think on their feet”.

Hannah told us: “It was open book but that didn’t help”, as it meant that they were “given harder questions” to answer. She also said: “Some people would sit the exams in the morning and some in the afternoon, meaning people would talk about the exam questions which can be extremely stressful.”

Having morning and afternoon sittings could put some students at a disadvantage because of the possibility that questions could be leaked, which was a concern of Hannah’s.

The Lancaster Tab reached out to the university for comment. They advised that departments are “finalising guidance” for exams and that “students with ILSPs will receive similar support to that they would normally receive, including assigning extra time for assessments.”

Hopefully, students will receive the support and guidance that they need to prepare for exams in the near future and individual departments have had enough time to consider what will be the best way to approach them in the final term.

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