After finishing my undergraduate degree I said to myself, my friends and my family that I’d never do exams again. They’re stressful, you don’t feel in control, and it seems impossible to ever feel completely prepared.
When I applied to do my masters in Science Communication, I didn’t even know whether I’d have to do exams. I definitely never imagined I’d be doing one at my parents house, in lockdown, during a global crisis.
In a very short space of time we’ve gone from normal life to social distancing to complete lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. One week we were at uni presenting our interactive activity coursework to our lecturers and coursemates. The next week all face-to-face lectures for the rest of the year were stopped and the uni buildings were closed.
I will never again sit in a room with my coursemates having discussions with my lecturers again apart from when we present our thesis presentations in September. Fingers crossed.
All teaching has gone online. We are having either live lectures using video call presentations or pre-recorded lectures. For our course, a lot of our timetable has stayed the same apart from a week of practical teaching which has been rearranged and will hopefully go ahead in summer. Our lecturers have been great at keeping us up to date about what changes are going to be made to our course and have made a huge effort to minimise the disruption to our learning and assessments. One of our essays has been pushed back by two weeks in line with the university wide changes due to the pandemic, but our exam conditions controlled assessment was still on the 26th of March.
This reduced the number of changes we had to cope with during this time and by keeping it as a timed assessment we could meet the requirements for having a variety of assessment types as part of our MSc. Although the difference was it was no longer an invigilated exam. We had already been given case study materials but due to doing it at home we didn’t have a strict one side of A4 notes rule.
Preparing for an exam in such a strange and anxious times was hard. It was difficult to concentrate on revision when there was so much uncertainty about what was happening in relation to COVID19 and there was so much media attention on people dying. Nothing felt important except for the global crisis.
The weirdest part was sitting nervously at home alone waiting for the exam paper to land in my email inbox. I made a hot chocolate to get me through. You can’t do that in normal exams!
It was hard and I didn’t feel as prepared as I would have liked to but I’m glad it’s done. It’s one less thing to worry about. If it had been moved back it would still be looming over us and we would be no further forward as it’s likely we will be in lockdown for a number of weeks to come.
We were informed before the exam that there is a university wide decision that anyone who needs to retake an assessment from during this time can do so without their mark being capped at just a pass. It is really great that the university has put this in place and it helped to relieve some stress and panic. Since then UWE has also announced a ‘no detriment’ approach meaning we can’t receive a final mark which is lower than our average before March. Stay home, save lives.
Photography by Morwenna Bugg