Why online exams are the best thing to come out of lockdown

Exams from bed? Yes please x

Lockdown has seriously skewed the idea of ‘being at university’. When I now say I’m at university, I’m actually in my bedroom either struggling to connect to an online seminar, cursing every book on Yorsearch or having a general existential crisis at my complete lack of motivation. However there is a silver lining to uni in lockdown: the online exam. Who doesn’t love the idea of taking an exam in your PJs with endless snacks?

Yet, the online exam is still pretty contested amongst students. So here is a run down of the highs and lows of online exams.

The positives

All of those extra hours

A big thank you to all the international students who made this possible, as due to different time zones the university had no choice but to make these exams 24 hour. During an exam there is no greater gift than time; time to think, time to plan, time to write, time to re-read, time to take breaks and that time to redraft. Those extra 22 hours open up so many possibilities.

You can snack!

Need I say anymore? The fridge and the biscuit cupboard are all a short distance away. There is no greater motivator than the bag of Percy Pigs in the desk draw (no? Just me then).

There is a word count!

The answer of ‘how long is a piece of string’ no longer applies to how much you should write in exam, as we now have a definitive answer.

You have access to ALL your notes

Forget the endless wasted hours of memorising thousands of quotes (yes I’m an English Lit student), theories and contextual information. Now they will all be openly available throughout the whole exam. Your knowledge no longer equates to what you can hold in your tiny brain, it equates to your whole year of study, notes, books and the internet!

The Internet

You have access to the Internet the whole time (unless you live in Devon)!!!

You can leave the room

Online exams really test your flight or fight response. The moment of opening the exam paper is always a tense one, however, if you hate the question during an online exam you can leave the room, calm yourself down, and then begin again.

You can return to the room, obviously

Whilst this is obvious at home, if you were to run out of the exam hall in a flap (something I am sure we have all thought about doing at least once when confronted with that first page) you would be disqualified, and certainly not allowed back in. But this is all acceptable behaviour when you are at home.

For all the perfectionists out there, you can edit, re-read and re-draft to your heart’s content

In an exam I always feel like I am just frantically throwing up my ideas onto the page with no idea when I leave whether they will make sense or not. Online exams allow you to make sure they do make sense, at least to you! There is nothing like the chance to look at something with a pair of fresh eyes!!

You can still have a lie in

The wonderful York English Department started our exam at 12PM, meaning I still got a lie in. I for one have not been up, dressed and breakfasted for a 9AM start throughout the whole of lockdown, and I’m really glad the Uni of York respects this.

 The negatives

The two hour exam is now 24 hours

Instead of stressing for two hours, if you are a stress- head, you will now be stressing and constantly questioning and doubting yourself for 24 hours.

Your family are most probably also in the house

Whether you have younger annoying siblings, parents constantly on conference calls, or a mother who loves to hoover, there will inevitably be some distracting background noise far from the silence of an exam hall.

You have access to all your notes, yet there is a word count

What absolute torture: so much you could say, so much knowledge you could show, yet only a small space to say it in.

The Academic Integrity Warning at the beginning of the paper is shit scary

I mean they have practically already accused you of cheating, and by some default method you probably have so just rip my paper up now please.

You can leave the room

Back to the flight or fight response, online exams definitely encourage you to fly.

Submitting an online exam is one of the most stressful things you will ever do 

Is this definitely the right submission point? Is this the correct format? Did I even receive the right paper? Ok submitted.. but did I definitely submit to the right module? I’ll check again. These were my thoughts for at least solid 30 minutes before the deadline (this wasn’t helped by the fact my mum is equally as paranoid and kept making me check).

There is no adrenaline for an online exam

Therefore the relief at the end doesn’t feel as liberating and you will find yourself celebrating alone with a gin in the bath as supposed to out at Salvos, I have no words, only tears. 

Whilst its granted that they aren’t for everyone, online exams are the one for me, and are probably the only good thing to come out of this university lockdown experience.