University Secretary's Group

Using digital technology to ease exam stress

Exam season is undoubtedly one of the more stressful times of the academic year. As well as revising, students need to ensure that they are in the right place at the right time for the right exam. Meanwhile, staff in Timetabling and Examination Services have the huge task of scheduling exams for approximately 23,000 students. So, how do we make this process easier, more efficient and less stressful? This month we launch a new exam timetabling system that will do just that.

The new system will be used for the first time to publish the exam timetable for the resits in August 2018, then used to schedule the full exam diet in December 2018. 

Exams

While the current system is capable of creating clash-free exam timetables, it does have a number of limitations. It’s a desktop package, meaning that it can only be used by one person at a time and has limited integration to downstream information systems and services. Once exams have been timetabled, students then need to go online, search for their courses and work out their own schedule, a process estimated to take an average of 45 minutes per student. The old system also lacked the capability to communicate any changes to scheduled exams, so students would need to log back in to check if dates or venues had been changed.

The new system creates effective timetables along with a range of other features. It will automatically draw existing student information from EUCLID (course of study, special arrangements etc.) and incorporate it into an individual schedule for each student. Once the exam schedule is complete, it is sent to the students’ Office365 calendar which they can access via computer, phone or tablet – the same way teaching timetables are currently distributed – to provide a valuable personalised service. This will help to reduce the time it currently takes students to check this information, as well as the margin for human error. Once the schedule is in Office365 any venue or timing changes will be updated automatically and inform the student of any changes.

This project is the next step to building a complete institutional calendar for students. The Service Excellence Programme has already identified a range of other event types that a student would like to see in their calendars whether it be induction sessions, tutor meetings or assessment deadlines.

Scott RosieHead of Timetabling and Examination Services, Project Sponsor