What will exams and assessments look like this year? New assessment guidance published for 2021-22

The majority of centrally-managed assessments will be short, timed exams taking place on our AssessmentUCL platform. Read the full regulations and guidance for this year’s assessments.

Centrally-managed exams have taken place online in the past two academic sessions due to Covid-19 lockdowns and social distancing requirements. UCL decided early this year to continue with an online approach to centrally-managed assessments in 2021-22, to provide you with some certainty of what to expect from the year ahead and to allow our staff to plan a high-quality assessment experience that would not change at the last minute in response to the pandemic.  

New guidance has now been published covering the different types of assessment that you may experience during your studies. 

Key changes from last year 

Following the successful introduction of our new online assessment last year, we listened to your feedback and have been working hard over the summer, and in consultation with the Students’ Union, to improve your assessment experience and to make the AssessmentUCL platform even better.  

We have also been gathering feedback from departments and external examiners and are making changes to some of our processes to ensure UCL’s assessments remain rigorous and meet our standards for academic conduct and integrity.  

The key changes below apply to all assessments taking place on AssessmentUCL this year:  

New language around assessments (It’s not just ’exams’!) 

If you’ve been at UCL for more than a year, you will notice some changes to how we talk about exams and assessments. Instead of an Exam Timetable, you will get a Central Assessments Timetable; you will sit your assessments during a Central Assessment Period rather than a Main Exam Period (March-May); and the whole process is managed by Central Assessments Team instead of an Exams Team.  

This new language reflects the fact that there is more than one way you can be assessed online at UCL, and not all of these are like the ’traditional’ face-to-face exam format. 

The assessment regulations explain everything that you need to know about each type of assessment (exam, take-home paper, coursework etc.). It is important that you read the full the guidance for your type of assessment.  

Most assessments will be short, timed exams 

The majority of centrally-managed assessments will be short, timed online exams of two to four hours duration. These are intended to replicate the strict conditions in a physical exam hall where there are no exceptions for late submissions, all students start at the same time and anyone with extenuating circumstances would need to defer the exam to the next assessment period (normally the Late Summer Assessment period). We’re calling these ’Controlled Condition Exams’. 

Student feedback from last year revealed a mixed response to the 24-hour exam format. The return to a shorter exam format addresses concerns for student wellbeing; some students appreciated the longer timeframe, but many others told us that they felt compelled to work for much longer and use the full 24 hours - this was never the intention.  

All students sitting a Controlled Condition Exam will have an additional 20 minute ’upload window’ to upload and submit your files and correct any minor mistakes.  

24-hour and seven-day exams still exist in some subject areas (for example where the format is useful for replicating a real-world work scenario), but they will now be known as ’Take-home papers’. We continue to highlight that you will not be expected to work for the full duration - you should be working on your assignment for a maximum of eight hours in any 24-hour period. 

Other assessment types include in-class tests and quizzes, dissertations and research projects, coursework and practical exams.  

You can make multiple submissions  

You will now be able to hand in your submission as many times as you like before the assessment deadline - the markers will only have access to the last version you hand in. This allows you to correct any mistakes right up to the deadline and should help you avoid submitting the wrong version of your paper. It is essential that your work is fully uploaded by the end of the ’upload window’.  

New Academic Integrity course 

UCL requires high academic standards to maintain trust and confidence in our world-leading research and teaching. To be successful in your exams and assessments,  

We encourage you to complete our new course on understanding Academic Integrity in online assessments, to develop good academic practice and avoid any type of Academic Misconduct that could result in expulsion. This includes any form of cheating or collusion in online exams. 

All work submitted to AssessmentUCL will continue to be passed through our plagiarism check software, Turnitin. As a UCL student, it is your responsibility to maintain the highest standards in your work.  

New arrangements for students with reasonable adjustments 

For Controlled Conditioned Exams (i.e. assessments less than four hours), the amount of extra time and/or writing time that you may be entitled to will be added to the duration of your exam. For example, if you are entitled to 10 minutes extra writing time per hour and five minutes rest break per hour, an additional 15 minutes will be added to each hour of your Controlled Conditioned Exam which would turn a two hour exam into two-and-a-half hour exam.  

For Take-home papers (i.e. 24 hour or seven day exams), students will be provided with an additional two hours per 24 hour assessment, for example if you have a SORA on a Take-home paper of 24 hours, you will be given 26 hours to complete and submit your assessment. 

  • The Exams and Assessment Hub on the Current Students website contains all the guidance and resources you will need to prepare for your assessments.  
  • Contact your personal tutor or AskUCL if you have any questions about exams and assessments.  
  • You can also get in touch with Student Support and Wellbeing if you need help managing your mental health or wellbeing as you prepare for assessments.   

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