Should Online Exams Stay For University Students?

Thanks to the pandemic, university exams, like everything else in our day to day lives, have been greatly impacted. In-person, timed paper exams, for most students, have been replaced by 24-hour online exams. But now that the government has decided that Covid is over, universities now have a choice whether to return to the old style of exams or stay with online exams. There are benefits and disadvantages to both arguments, but it seems that some universities want to ditch in-person exams altogether. So, here’s a look at the pros and cons of in-person vs. online exams. 

Online Exams – PRO – Less Exam-Related Stress:

a university student taking online exams

A benefit of online exams is that it’s less stressful. Sure, there’s still the exam to worry about, but for people with anxiety and other related conditions, it can be much calmer to take an exam outside of an exam hall. That will hopefully lead to better marks, which is ultimately what we all want from our degrees. Not having to deal with being in the same room as hundreds of other students, getting to work from the comforts of a calm environment, can make that difference. 

Check out some of our tips to help with exam stress.

Online Exams – CON – Technology:

The downside of online exams. While doing online exams can help to relieve some anxiety, technology can cause it. A slow wifi connection, a laggy computer, all those sorts of things can put you at a disadvantage through no fault of your own. The last thing anyone needs during their exams is a slow wifi connection.

In-Person Exams – PRO – Everyone In The Same, Distraction-Free Environment:

A university student taking exams in person

While online exams may cause less exam hall related anxiety, not everyone has access to the right space for exams at home. With in-person exams, that is not a problem. Everyone is in the same environment, so no one has any unfair disadvantages. Then, if something does happen, such as a fire alarm, it is easier to account for any additional time needed. 

Well, an exam hall may not be completely distraction-free – it’s only during exams that we students discover how interesting it is to stare out of the window. But there are fewer distractions during an in-person exam than doing an online one. You’re not going to have access to your phone, so that won’t play a factor. Then, as in-person exams are what we’re used to growing up, there is a sense of familiarity. We’ve done this before, so we know what to do now. 

In-Person Exams – CON – Puts People At A Disadvantage:

For students with disabilities or other conditions, it can be much easier for them to use online exams. For example, immunocompromised students and those at high risk of catching covid would definitely prefer online exams as it allows them to take the exam and decrease the risk of them catching covid and any following health problems. Additionally, for blind students, being able to use a screen reader would make taking exams easier for them. Providing as fair of a playing field as possible and accommodating all students, no matter if they have a disability or not, is incredibly important.

However, this does work both ways, as there are some disabilities that may lend themselves better to in-person exams. A student with ADHD for example may find it stressful to use a computer for an exam, so in this instance, in-person exams would be more suitable. It works both ways.

Online exams- Pro- Work in benefit of essay based subjects

The widespread opinion is that online exams work better for essay-based subjects. This is because they are open-book so students can spend less time recalling information and more time critically accessing it. Therefore, online exams measure a student’s analysis abilities rather than their memory, which isn’t that important in essay-based subjects.

So, should online exams stay? Well, it’s difficult to come up with a definitive answer to that question. There are benefits and disadvantages to both options, but here’s hoping that universities learn from the past two years and take the students’ voices, the ones who will actually be doing the exams, into account.

Are your university exams going to be online or in-person this year? And in your opinion, should online exams stay? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

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