The exams remain open-book and on an online platform, but will be invigilated in-personLouis Ashworth/Varsity

First and Second year Biological Natural Science (BioNatSci) students have reacted with dismay to the “jarring” announcement that their end of year exams will be held in person - not remotely, as they had previously been told.

A faculty email sent to students on Friday (22/4) said that while exams remained online and open-book, they will be invigilated in an in-person venue. Students were told to bring their own laptops and chargers.

Many students have expressed their frustration with the decision.

One first-year said the sudden change was “jarring” while another labelled it “’a waste of time”, adding that “it does just induce more stress than necessary, especially as we’re in our first year… being messed around with the format of the exams, this late on, makes everything so much more stressful.

It also makes the mocks and stuff that we’ve done all year significantly less helpful, as they were all online”

Another student told Varsity that the decision had increased their exam stress “a hundred fold”, saying that: “there is no real gain in this – no one could cheat before anyway as it was already going to be proctored”.

They are hoping that the faculty will change their mind after “letting us revise for months with a different exam format in our heads.”

Reasons for this last-minute change remain unclear, but a Faculty email circulated to all affected students claimed that the move was made “to be consistent with the new COVID-19 guidance from the Government and University”.

This development could be especially disruptive for students who require access arrangements; one such student said, “it’s generally a bit short notice and seems just unnecessary, especially as now I have additional access arrangements related to in-person exams which I now need to sort out.”


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However, not all students are unhappy with the change. One first-year student said that they prefer having exams in person; “I feel way too relaxed if I’m doing (the exam) at home.

“If I’m trying to do a timed essay at home the adrenaline just doesn’t kick in the way I need it to.”

A second-year student agreed, telling Varsity that an earlier announcement wouldn’t have made “any practical difference” to their Easter revision.

The Faculty email said that no changes had been made to the ‘structure, content, length, word limits and timetabling’ of exams, and that the in-person invigilation would allow for the “on-site technical support” if necessary and reduce the chance of collusion or reliance on pre-prepared materials.

The Faculty of Biology has been approached for comment.