Twenty exams have been confirmed to take place in person this year, with a further 15 papers set to be confirmed dependent on the government’s announcement on in-person course returns before next term. The majority of the exams already confirmed to be in-person are exams set by the Chemistry faculty, including Prelims and FHS exams, and the majority of exams set to be confirmed are ancient languages exams, held by the Classics faculty.

The Chemistry faculty outlined justification for in-person exams to their students in correspondence, citing “the rigour of the examination process,” greater ease of revision due to relevance of past papers available online, and “widespread collusion and cheating” at other Universities that chose to assess Chemistry remotely. The faculty went on to say that “the Teaching Committee decided unanimously that this was our first preference for exams next term, and the decision was ratified by the academics in all sections.”

Students taking in-person exams this year will not be expected to wear sub fusc, and those that choose to wear sub fusc have been asked to leave their caps at home. Face coverings will need to be worn throughout exams and in the examination buildings, except for those that have a legal exemption. For those that are self-isolating or unable to return to Oxford for Trinity due to travel restrictions, there is the possibility of sitting the exam online at the same time as the in-person exam, with remote invigilation. 

Sacha Chowdhury, a first-year Chemistry student, told Cherwell: “I would have preferred to do online exams for a few reasons: firstly, there’s just less health risk than in person exams. Also, since a lot of this year has been online including both sets of collections, we haven’t really had any practice with in person exams at uni. […] Another worry would be that if there were to be a spike in the weeks preceding the exams since, by committing to in-person exams, it makes it difficult to make a U-turn if necessary, so it relies on the government’s plan being successful.”

“A benefit of in-person exams is that I think I perform better as seeing other people working around me and being in an exam school may give me more adrenaline and focus, which is something I struggled with in online collections.”

A spokesperson for the University of Oxford told Cherwell: “In line with government guidance, the University will continue to offer a mix of in-person and online teaching and assessment while the national restrictions are in place. The vast majority of in-person exams taking place during Trinity Term will take place online using Inspera. The platform offers a greatly improved online exam experience for students with an intuitive interface and a range of tools that meet Oxford’s diverse needs.”

“Around thirty in-person examinations are scheduled [to] take place in Trinity Term, pending government confirmation around Easter of further courses which are able to return to in-person teaching and assessment. These exams are planned to take place in person in line with professional body accreditation requirements, or because it is not possible to examine their content remotely. Trinity Term in-person exams will be held with a range of safety measures implemented, including reduced capacity in exam halls, the compulsory use of face coverings and limited contact between individuals.”

 “Students unable to sit their exams in-person, because they are having to self-isolate or they have dispensation to be resident outside Oxford, will be able to apply, via their college, to sit an online exam with remote invigilation – which is outside of Inspera, not a part of it.”

“The University’s guidance and provisions to facilitate safe teaching follow Government advice. They have been carefully prepared in consultation with staff, Public Health England and other local partners.”

Image Credit: Paul Chapman / Oxford University – Matriculation / CC BY-SA 2.0