May 27th 2020

Exams

In this section you will find advice and information to help you during and beyond this particularly unusual exam period. If you need more advice about anything here, the Advice Centre is available to help. To speak to an adviser, simply email advice@sheffield.ac.uk with a summary of what you want to discuss and one of the team will contact you.

Chapters
  1. Exam wellbeing
  2. Space to study
  3. Online assessments
  4. Extenuating circumstances
  5. Use of unfair means
  6. Safety net policy
  7. Results
  8. Academic appeals
  9. Resits
  10. If things go wrong in your exams
  11. Support services

Exam wellbeing

Exams can be stressful, and this exam period will be particularly stressful for many of you. Looking after yourself if therefore more important than ever. If you are feeling overwhelmed, simple steps can make a big difference; eating well, getting plenty of sleep, being aware of how much you are drinking. Structure and routine is important too. Make sure that your daily routine includes regular study breaks for exercise and relaxation. Arrange time to catch up with friends. Even if you cannot meet in person, staying in touch with university friends is a great way to support each other during the exams. The University’s Welling Service blog is a great source of advice and ideas to help establish and stick to a healthy routine.

Space to study

Whether you are back at home with family or still in Sheffield, it is important to find a space in your home where you can study. A desk and comfortable chair are ideal, particularly when you are completing your online assessments. Natural light and fresh air are great for focus and concentration. But most important is reliable internet connection and knowing that you are not going to be disturbed. Easier said than done when you are living with other people during lockdown! It is a good idea to let them know when you will be doing your online assessments. Some students swear by noise cancelling headphones and assertive ‘keep out, assessment in process!’ signs on their doors.

Online assessments

By now, your department should have provided you with all the information you need about your online assessments. If you have any questions about the arrangements for these, it is important to contact your department promptly. Unexpected IT problems are the last thing you need on the day of an assessment, so check in advance that you can access whatever online services you will need to complete these assignments, including Blackboard and Turnitin. Before your assessments, IT services is a good source of support when you are getting set up for the exam period. But if you run into technical difficulties while completing an assessment, it is essential that you contact your department immediately for advice about alternative arrangements. 301 has produced a guide to online assessments including revision tips and general advice.

Extenuating circumstances

Personal problems or health difficulties can throw revision and exams into chaos, and worrying about this can make the whole situation even worse. The University defines these types of non-academic problems as ‘extenuating circumstances’ and departments have a range of options to help. For example, extending deadlines, deferring exams or allowing un-capped resits. Extenuating circumstances can also be taken into account when considering end of year results and final degree classifications. All of these measures are much harder to obtain if you don’t report your extenuating circumstances until your results are published, so it is vital you tell your department as early as possible rather than trying to struggle through on your own. For the current exam period, the University is allowing students to self-certify rather than provide medical evidence. Check the University’s new guidance here. If you need further advice, the Student Advice Centre is also here to help and has more information on the website.

Use of unfair means

No matter how worried you are about your exams, cheating is not worth the risk. The University’s strict rules about what you can and cannot do in an exam also apply to online assessments. Breaking these rules will have serious consequences, with penalties ranging from a grade of 0 for less serious or unintentional cases, to suspension or exclusion for the most serious. To help you avoid accidental use of unfair means, 301 has produced some guidance about avoiding use of unfair means in online assessments. If you have questions about your specific assessments, you should contact your department for advice. If you are suspected of using unfair means, please see the discipline section of the Student Advice Centre website.

Safety net policy

The University has published information about the safety net policy on its website. If you have further questions about how this will apply to your case, the Student Advice Centre can help you obtain this information from the University.

Results

Undergraduate exam results will be published on 21.07.20 at 2pm via the myResults section of MUSE. You can find further information about accessing your results on the SSID website.

Academic appeals

For information and advice about academic appeals please see the Student Advice Centre website.

Resits

If you need to resit any assessments this year, the standard resit period is 10 - 28th August 2020. Resits for spring semester modules will be scheduled for the 2nd half of this period to allow students as much time as possible to prepare following the publication of spring semester results. For more information please see the Student Advice Centre guidance on Resits and Repeats.

If things go wrong in your exams

But if you run into technical difficulties while completing an assessment, it is essential that you contact your department immediately for advice about alternative arrangements. Your department may ask you to also notify the Exams Officer and submit an extenuating circumstances form.

If your department suspects that you have used unfair means in an online assessment, the University will follow normal processes to investigate and decide what action if any needs to be taken. For more information please see the discipline section of the Student Advice Centre website.

It can be difficult to work out whether an exam or assessment was difficult, unfair or contained mistakes. If you are concerned about an assessment, it is worth discussing this with the module leader or Head of Department to see if your concerns can be resolved informally. If that doesn’t work, you have the option of making an academic appeal or complaint. Which of these you choose will depend on the outcome you are seeking. If you need help deciding what action to take, the Student Advice Centre can explore your options with you.

If you are unable to complete an assessment because of illness, you should contact your department as soon as possible to let them know. You should also submit an extenuating circumstances form.

Don’t panic. It is really hard to know how you have done until your results have been published. If things have not gone well, your results will include information about resit options, and you will be able to ask your department feedback even while the University is closed.

Support services

Despite the University closure, there is a range of services available to help during and after the exam period. So if you are worried about yourself or a friend, please get in touch for advice and support.

Student Advice Centre - available for advice via website, email, telephone and Google Meets.

Your department - extenuating circumstances and tutorial support.

Student Wellbeing Service - short-term, one to one welling support.

SAMHS - the University’s first access point for students seeking mental health support.

Disability and Dyslexia Support Service - learning support and special exam arrangements.

Central Welfare and Guidance - university support with urgent situations and students in crisis.

Chaplaincy - multi faith pastoral support.

Nightline - instant messager information and support service.

Big White Wall - free 24/7 online mental wellbeing support.

Samaritans - free 24/7 confidential, non-judgmental emotional support