Running assessments online

Good-Practice Guide to Running Timed Assessments

The guidance below is an outline version of key advice developed by Professor David Smith. A full version of the guidance with additional information (Word) including practical tips and examples is also available. 

1. Preparing assessments

  • Check assessments thoroughly.
  • Don’t be too ambitious!
  • Have a back up plan
  • Allow generous but appropriate additional time for all students
  • Provide clear instructions for students on the format of the assessment, both in advance and with the assessment itself
  • Allow students to practice

2. Releasing assessments

  • Use a familiar, secure and reliable way of releasing assessments

3. Start times

  • Start the assessment at a single time, but make allowance for students who might need individual arrangements
  • For programmes with a lot of students sitting in different time zones, it may nevertheless be necessary to consider a second sitting at a different time.
  • Choose the start time carefully
  • Choose a consistent start time for assessments taken by the same cohort
  • Stagger start times between different cohorts or year groups

4. Dealing with issues

  • Provide clear guidance to staff on how to advise students who have problems and cannot complete the the assessment
  • Provide students with a clear contact point if they have problems
  • Apply the existing policy on queries over possible errors in assessments
  • Remind students that if they suspect that there is an error in an assessment, they should answer the question to the best of their ability and make a note in their answer.

5. Uploading

  • Use a familiar, secure and reliable way for students to upload assessments
  • Be very clear about the format of any documents that you expect students to submit
  • Use a consistent filename convention
  • Put the responsibility on students to submit in the correct format
  • Keep the submission window open for 24 hours after the start of the assessment
  • Be reasonable and expect students to have submitted on time
  • Provide an alternative for students who cannot upload
  • Do not allow markers to start marking before checking

6. Marking

  • Ensure that markers provide sufficient annotation on student work to indicate how and/or why marks have been awarded

7. Supporting Students

  • Advise students to keep a local copy of their work
  • Provide extra time for students with previously agreed Alternative Examination Arrangements
  • Recommend that students set their own alarms if they are worried about not having the usual invigilator announcements or prompts.

Assessment Clinics

The DEO offers Assessment Clinics to support staff who are preparing for or running assessments online.

How to request a booking:

Email with the Subject Assessment Clinic Booking. Please specify:

  • whether your query relates to a Blackboard assignment, a Blackboard test, a Questionmark (QMP) test, a Turnitin assignment, or something else.
  • 2 options for days and times that work for you. Slots will be 30 mins long.

We will be in touch to confirm the clinic.