Coronavirus AEAs update
Disability Services is working with colleagues in Schools and Faculties to ensure that disabled students who have a Disability Support Summary (DSS) receive the AEAs in their DSS for online assessments.
Tips for setting up an exam venue at home:
- Set up the room you have chosen to complete your online assessment in plenty of time. Chargers, paper, pens and any other items you may need should be close at hand.
- Check your laptop, ensuring it is displaying the correct time and is working.
- If possible, choose a location which has good internet access and is away from potentially busy areas, like the kitchen or TV room.
- Talk to housemates/family in advance of your online assessment, to reduce distractions and interruptions during this period as much as possible.
- Prepare your working area to ensure that it is clear of any distractions. If possible, set up your room with a table and chair.
- If you need food and drink during your online assessment, make sure it is available!
- Check the lighting is appropriate for you. If possible, try using a space near a window if you prefer natural light, or setting up in a dark space with appropriate lamp lighting.
- Reduce visual distractions where possible by facing blank walls.
- Consider putting your phone on airplane mode, which shuts off wireless and data connections.
- If you have noise cancelling headphones, consider using these, otherwise ear plugs may be helpful. Some students find low-level white noise on YouTube, Apple Music or Spotify may be effective if in a noisy environment.
- We have attached an Online Open Book Exam Guide for Students (PDF, 335kB) which may be helpful
Frequently asked questions
I usually get extra time for exams. Will I still get extra time?
How your extra time is allocated will vary depending on the assessment format your School is using.
If your School has organised a timed exam of, for example, from two-and-a-half to five hours, it is likely that your extra time will be added. For example, students doing a four-hour exam who get 25% extra time will have five hours to complete their exam. Your School should have sent you guidance on how this will work.
If you have been advised that your online assessments with take place over, for example, a 24- or 48-hour period, this longer time incorporates most additional recommendations made in disabled students' DSSs. The University is not expecting students to take the maximum allocated time (such as 24 or 48 hours) to work on their assessment. Your School will let you know the expected time to complete any online assessment. For example, you may be advised that you are expected to take just three hours to complete your assessment, even though you have a 24- or 48-hour window availabe to manage the work. This means that we would expect that a student with 25% extra time would take three hours and 45 minutes to complete a three-hour assessment, even if there are 24 or 48 hours available.
Some Faculties are offering assessments over longer periods, such as one to three weeks. In some cases, these will be timed assessments that work in a similar way as the 24- to 48-hour assessments described above. In other cases, your usual exam may have been replaced by a coursework style assessment.
For coursework assessments, AEAs will not apply but you can request a coursework extension if you need more time. As outlined in the policy, timed assessments can be deferred due to absence, but are not eligible for extensions. Where you can see all your assessments in eVision, via MyBristol, timed assessments will be updated to show as type: ‘Timed Assessment’ or ‘Exam’. Where assessment information is held locally, your School will have provided this information.
Please check your emails for updates. If you are still unsure, check with your School Office, Personal Tutor or School Disability Coordinator to find out if extension requests are possible for your assessment.
I have rest breaks. How will this work?
If your assessment is 24 hours or longer, rest breaks will work like extra time (see the answer to the above question). The amount of time your School has set for the assessment allows for extra time or rest breaks. Take breaks as and when you feel you need them. If you will be sitting a shorter timed assessment (two to five, for example), your School will give you guidance on how the AEAs in your DSS apply to your take home exam.
If you regularly use apps to help maintain your mental health, such as Calm, Thrive, or Mindspace, you can use these if you feel you are becoming anxious during your assessment.
If you usually have breaks to eat, you can reduce stress by making sure you have snacks to hand for when you take your break.
It sounds like everyone is getting the same extra time and that doesn’t feel fair. Can you explain?
We are advising Schools to be clear about what they are expecting you to deliver. For example, are they expecting an exam quality essay that could be completed without any additional research and with no referencing? If you do not feel your School has been clear about this, you should ask as soon as possible. Students who need to take more time to read and absorb the questions or who need to take regular breaks should not be disadvantaged.
You will also be able to access additional alternative arrangements that may mean that you need less extra time than you would for a normal exam. These types of take-home assessment are what we would consider to be inclusive by design. For example:
- Being able to access your lecture notes throughout the assessment will mean that students with memory impairments will not be disadvantaged.
- Students who use assistive technology to support their studies will be able to access their software and use it during their assessment.
- Students with slow reading skills are encouraged to use text-to-speech software to check over their work and help with reading and comprehension.
That said, you may feel that this form of assessment has not allowed you to perform as well as you would have if you had a formal exam with your usual AEAs. If you believe that this is the case, you should submit Extenuating Circumstances (ECs).
I wouldn’t usually have access to my assistive software during an exam. Is it ok if I use it for these assessments?
Yes! We strongly encourage students who would usually use assistive software when preparing coursework to use it during their take-home assessments. This is one of the benefits of a take-home assessment.
I usually have an exam support worker (such as a Reader, Scribe or Prompter). Will I still get this support?
We are recommending that students use assistive software instead of their usual support worker. Students who have assistive software (such as Dragon, TextHelp, ClaroRead or other programmes that have been awarded to them through Disabled Students’ Allowances) should use this software. If you do not have access to DSAs-funded technology, we have given some examples of free software you can use below.
If you usually have a Reader, you could use the Read Aloud function in Microsoft Word. You may also find the Immersive Reader functionality helpful. You could also try free software like NaturalReaders, Panopreter Basic or WordTalk.
If you usually have a Prompter, you may want to try setting alerts or reminders in an electronic calendar. For example, you could set yourself a calendar reminder for every 20-30 minutes to prompt you of how much time has passed or remind you to move on if your assessment has multiple questions to answer. For example, you could use your University Outlook calendar for this. If you are living with family or friends who might be able to help you, you could also ask them to check in on you during the assessment to prompt you.
If you will be using tools that are new to you, we recommend you put aside some time to practice with them. Visit here for some useful videos about using some of the accessibility functions in Microsoft Word.
Our examples of free tools you can try are just suggestions. We have no recommendations for which are the best to use and there are also other options out there. We recommend you find what works for you.
If none of the above options work for you, you should contact Disability Services as soon as possible.
I haven’t been able to set up a good environment to undertake my assessment and it has affected my performance. What should I do?
We have made recommendations (above) about how to prepare for your assessment but many students may still find that their home set-up has distractions or challenges that are beyond their control. You can still submit Extenuating Circumstances (ECs).
How can I contact Disability Services?
Our physical office is closed but we are still here to support you. The best way to get in touch with us is by email (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you need to speak to a Disability Adviser, you can email to ask for an appointment and a Disability Adviser will be able to contact you using Skype for Business or telephone.