A key difference between an online open book exam and a more traditional exam is your workspace. While some might dread walking into a silent exam hall, for others it can be reassuring to have a place and time apart to really focus. Wherever you fall on this scale, it’s useful to think carefully about your working environment ahead of time.
You will need to make yourself as comfortable as possible, minimising distractions. It’s not always possible to create the ideal exam conditions - you might be limited by space, available furniture, family or housemates. But there are usually small things you can adjust to make sure you are taking care of yourself! Think about the location of your computer or laptop, your sitting position, noise and temperature. Do you work better in silence or with some study-friendly background noise? You might want to put your phone away or onto airplane mode and switch off social media notifications to your computer.
In some cases your submission window may be 48 hours, but it is important to remember that you are not expected to spend all this time writing! The long gap between the exam’s start time and the submission deadline is to allow for issues with technology and different time zones, and to give you more flexibility to find a quiet time to focus on the exam. Pay attention to the exam’s stated length and stick to this.
If you have children or other caring responsibilities, or if you are sharing a laptop or computer with someone, try to arrange a single block of time when you are least likely to be disturbed.
If you do get interrupted or distracted, or find yourself getting stressed out, don’t be afraid to take a break. Move away from your screen, stretch, drink some water and re-focus yourself on your task.
Plan for any particular accessibility requirements you might have. Do you need to remind yourself to stretch or look away from the screen, or could you adjust your computer’s brightness, use night mode or a coloured filter to minimise visual stress?
All assessments have been designed with accessibility in mind, and if you normally have special exam arrangements your school will be aware of this. However, if you are concerned about the method of assessment or if your accessibility needs have changed, make sure you contact your school as soon as possible, so they can work with you and Disability Services to find a solution.
The University’s COVID-19 website has some advice for disabled students and those with additional requirements that you may find useful.
Exams can be stressful at the best of times, so it is important to be gentle with yourself. Working remotely comes with its own additional stresses and strains, and you might find that you need some extra support.
The Student Services pages have lots of great links to wellbeing resources, as well as to the University’s counselling and mental health support service. LUU’s Help and Support Team are also available remotely and have set up a Facebook group for students to support each other during the COVID-19 pandemic.