Information Services

Support of online exams

This page gives information about support over the upcoming exam period.

Delivery format 

For the April/May 2021 diet, exams have been scheduled in one of two delivery formats: 

  1. An online alternative to the traditional 2/3 hour format where the extra time allows for students who are in different time zones and/or may have issues with internet speed or data uploads. It is still expected that the time taken by candidates to complete the assessment should be broadly similar to the short format time. These assessments are to be delivered across a 24-hour period, with assessments released on the specified scheduled date, with the final submission deadline due 24 hours later. Students with an extra time allowance on their learning adjustment profiles are entitled to an additional 3-hours, meaning they will have 27-hours to complete and submit.
  2. An online short-form version, typically either 2 or 3 hrs in duration, also to be released on the specified scheduled data, which will have 1 hour of additional time added for all candidates, and a further additional 1 hour for candidates with confirmed additional time allowance. So for a 3-hour exam: all candidates will have 4-hours to complete and submit, with the exception of those candidates with approved additional time adjustment, who will have 5-hours to complete and submit. 

All exams will be released at 13.00GMT on their scheduled date 

Guidance and recommendations for the delivery of online/remote assessments 

Support schedule 

The exam diet runs from the 26th of April until the 22nd of May which includes releases and submissions across the Saturdays during this period.   There are no exams on Sundays during this diet.

Please note:  Technical support should be in place for all release and submission times, but Schools also need to ensure the presence of academic support at all designated release times, as part of ensuring candidate support for any paper queries during the first period of the exam, with 30 mins the minimum recommended time. Schools should take care to advise candidates of the time they will have to raise paper-related queries. 

Schools can access a detailed exam timetable schedule to plan their own support schedule. 

The submission deadline times are based on standard +1hr times. Special arrangement students with additional time adjustments are not included, so Schools should add an additional hour where this is appropriate. Based on this schedule, the latest possible deadline for a submission is 18.00hrs

Setting up digital exams 

Schools can access detailed advice on setting up digital exams

We can provide your staff with training on how to use the tools recommended for the delivery of online exams, and can also provide further guidance for your students that you can use (and change to fit your own requirements).   

Please contact the IS Helpline (IS.Helpline@ed.ac.uk) with your request. We strongly recommend you run a practice exam with your students if possible. 

Setup support 

  1. The set-up of the exam drop box and the provision of guidance to students is the responsibility of the School. Information Services can provide help and support in this area. 
  2. It is essential that Schools provide clear guidance on how they expect students to communicate with them in the event of an issue and what information the students should provide. 
  3. Students who contact the IS Helpline about exam issues relating to the technical set-up of the dropbox, will be redirected to the School for help.  The Helpline will use the contact details provided on the ‘School advice for problems during the exam period’ web page. 
  4. Some Schools will use locally-supported specialist tools (e.g. GradeScope in CSE and Practique in CMVM) to manage exam delivery.  Any queries relating to difficulties with more specialised software will be directed to School Learning Technology Teams. 

Digital exam submission 

Problems with online submissions tend to fall into 5 categories: 

  1. Academic issues with the content of the exam/assessment 
  2. Problems with the set-up of the exam or submission process (adaptive release dates wrong, Own Work Declarations (OWD) set up incorrectly, for example). You can find out more about adaptive release and OWDs for your chosen exam type on our Assessment Continuity pages
  3. Problems with digitising the submission 
  4. Technical problems with the service (e.g.: error messages/service outage/degradation, service not behaving as expected) 
  5. Local technical issues such as problems with broadband and personal device failure 

School-led submission support 

We’d recommend that Schools provide students with a contact email address for them to report issues, and request they attach a time stamped copy of the completed script/assessment before the deadline, if possible for them to do so.  You should ask them to confirm the course name and their student ID in any correspondence.  Some thought should be given to shorter exams – it may not be possible to assist a student before the deadline for these shorter exams given a lack of time.   Please make sure to put this information in places not hidden by OWDs and providing the same information over multiple locations would be preferable (email/Learn/web pages).   You can update the information given on the ‘School advice for problems during the exam period’ page by putting a request into the IS Helpline.

School-led digitised submission support 

Some students may have issues digitising handwritten files.  The IS Helpline may be able to help the student troubleshoot problems but for shorter exams, the help may arrive beyond the deadline. You should encourage all students to contact you if they are having issues so that you are aware of the issue. They should include the call number in their email if they’ve raised a call with the Helpline. The same advice applies in terms of students struggling to submit due to issues with file format or size. 

If there are reported issues the School cannot resolve:  

  1. non-urgent issues should be reported as usual through the IS Helpline.  
  2. For urgent exam related issues, staff can contact the appropriate people in IS through a live space where the issue can be talked through with support specialists (the details of which will be shared with the Learning Technologists in the Schools shortly). This facility will be regularly checked during weekdays (usual 9-5 hours).   
  3. During the weekends, please put a call into the IS Helpline.  They will flag any urgent support issues with the appropriate people by phone. Please note that at the weekend the Helpline don’t operate a phone line so requests for help should be put in by emailing the IS Helpline (is.helpline@ed.ac.uk). 

General Support 

General support from IS will be available through the IS Helpline, during the exam period (26th of April - 22nd of May), at the following times: 

 

[To be updated for May diet]

  • Mon-Thur: 8am-8pm  
  • Fri: 8am-7pm 
  • Sat 13th: 9am-5pm 
  • Sat 19th: 10am-6pm
  • Sun: 9am-5pm (times changed specifically over the exam period) 

Specialist support via the live space (with access to the service specialists) will be 9-5 every week day over the exam period. 

Our services are closely monitored for issues and we often know about problems before they are reported and, during the exam period, we’ll monitor even more closely than normal. 

Local technical issues  

As with issues with scanning/digitising submissions, these issues may be general in nature and something the IS Helpline can help with but given the quick turnaround required, students are still advised to contact their School to explain the situation (and provide the call number). 

It’s recognised in extreme cases, where there may be issues with broadband or device failure, it may be impossible for the student to contact the School and submit the exam before the deadline. Students should still seek to contact their School at the earliest opportunity.