Geography students misinformed over exam instructions

The rules were not clearly stated before the exam

In a recent second year Geography exam, Royal Holloway students were left confused and irritated after not being given the correct instructions on how to complete their questions. Although the front of the Cities exam paper specified that each answer should have been completed in a separate booklet, the invigilators present in the exam did not remind the students to do so or lay out instructions for the exam in general. Instead, they waited until midway through the exam to inform the students about what to do, at which point the majority of the students had already started their second questions.

Many students were left confused about what to do considering they had not followed the exam guidelines which should have been stated clearly at the beginning of the exam. By not explicitly being told to fill out answers in separate booklets, those who had already began the second question in the same booklets ended up losing out on valuable exam time by copying their second answers into a second booklet. This provided unnecessary stress and most likely hindered the quality of the students’ answers. They missed out on precious time that should have been allocated to checking over work for general mistakes, and progressing with the questions.

Even after seeing that majority of people had started the second question in the first booklet, the invigilators did not find out whether it was possible to leave it as it was, and instead made students worried and paranoid that they would miss out marks if they did not copy it out again. A few people did not copy out their answers, remaining adamant that they should have been marked for the quality of their essays regardless of where it was placed, and because they were not informed of the exam procedures which they should have been.

When the department was approached to discover how they were handling the situation, they claimed that they were unaware that the students had to waste exam time by rewriting their second questions and essentially could do nothing. They also said that if any students want consideration then they will have to apply as usual, and that it will not be automatically given to anyone who took the exam.

In future exams, invigilators need to recognise the importance of providing accurate information to students before starting. An exam is stressful enough already without the added fear that we may have written something inaccurately, or as this situation would show, in the wrong place. Every mark counts, and in University level examinations no one expects silly mistakes to be made on the question papers, or how the exam procedures are laid out beforehand. It’s ridiculous that students were forced to resort to rewriting their essays, purely out of fear of being significantly marked down.