Exams & Assessments
Sitting exams and completing assessments can be very stressful. This is a core part of the academic process and designed for you to show your knowledge and understanding the subject matter.
Open Book Exams
Due to COVID-19 a lot has changed for students; we have gone from in-class assessments, lab work, invigilated exams in a formal setting to Open Book Exams.
So, what exactly are Open Book Exams?
- Open Book Exams are either online or offline where you must submit the work in a specified timeframe. Offline exams are when you can download the exam questions or topics and are given a set period of time to complete the answers and then upload to Brightspace/Moodle or email back to the lecturer.
- Online exams are where the class or group is issued the questions and given a specific time to answer and submit these online.
Both formats of exams will have a window of time within which you can access and start the exam. Be mindful of these times as you would if you were sitting an Exam in a hall, be ON TIME and BE READY.
The difference with these types of Exams is that students usually have to revise based on the requirement that they will have to rely on their memory, whereas Open Book exams allow the use of notes, text books and any other materials that have been authorised by the lecturer (NOTE: check these out before you start as some devices and sources may be prohibited and if you use them it's a breach of the Regulations).
- With Open Book Exams, preparation is key. Prepare your lecture notes / textbooks with post-it’s, whatever helps you to find the topics. Try not to have too many sources of information as you can lose valuable time if you have to check through lots of books.
- Be familiar with technical terms used and understand what you're being asked.
- Manage your time; it is just as important with Open Book Exams to plan how you will allocate time per question, key an eye on the clock like you would do if you were sitting in an Exam Hall in TU Dublin.
- Don’t COPY or Plagiarise – this is a very important part of the Assessment Regulations, and as a student you have already committed to upholding the academic regulations when you registered, plus you may have to sign or consented to specific requirements issued by your School.
The TU Dublin School of Computing has created this handy Guide to Open Book Exams.
Top Tips to help you Before/During/After Exams
We have compiled some useful tips to help you plan your revision effectively and get through the exams in a positive frame of mind!
If you’re having problems revising and preparing for an exam, ask for help. Seek advice from your Tutor or lecturers. Don't be afraid to raise any concerns.
- Don’t leave yourself without time to study. If it’s too late for that and you’re already cramming, then listen to your body and rest when you need to. Otherwise you’ll risk burn-out.
- Don’t use drugs (prescription or illegal) to help you stay awake or alert for study and when doing your assignments. It’s not healthy and in the long run your work will suffer.
- Try not to panic before the exam. Stay away from anyone who is stressing or revising frantically, they’ll only make you feel nervous too.
- Take regular breaks, get some fresh air and exercise: apart from helping you to relax it’s also good for the brain – and get enough sleep.
- Practice answering questions from previous exam papers as if they were the real thing and time yourself so that you can complete the papers within the allotted time.
- Don't overdo caffeine (especially energy drinks or caffeine tablets) - it can cause heart palpitations and panic attacks.
- Eat well (especially complex carbohydrates), sleep well and don't use alcohol to relax as it interferes with sleep (that deep sleep that is so refreshing and necessary when studying).
- Try to keep things in perspective. Grades are not a measure of your value as a human being, nor do they measure intelligence or creativity.
- For on campus elections, make sure to confirm the time and location of your exam hall the day before and on the morning of the exam, sometimes the location of an may change for operational reasons.
- Look up public transport times so that you know how much time needed to get to the venue (which may be located away from your campus), plan to arrive at least 10 mins before the start time.
For on campus exams remember that you can only be admitted within 30 mins from the start time. In exceptional circumstances and provided that no other students sitting the same paper has left the exam you may be admitted later, this is at the discretion of the Exams Office. In this instance, you won’t be allowed any extra time.
Make sure you have your Student Card to enter the exam venue, the Passport and Age Card is also accepted.
Make sure you sign the Attendance Form when requested by the Invigilator, and leave your Student ID Card in a visible position on your desk
Don’t have your mobile phone or any other electronic devices e.g. smart watches on your person while in the exam hall. Follow the instructions from the Invigilator about placing your phone (switched off) face down on the floor. Failure to do so can land you in trouble as the Regulations are very specific about this. Saying you didn’t know is not an excuse.
If your exam requires a calculator, make sure it’s from the approved list from your School. Make sure to bring a couple of pens with you; preparation is key!
If you think you have been given the wrong exam paper it is important that you notify the Invigilator immediately so that this can be rectified. If this causes a delay you will be given the same amount of time at the end to make up for it.
Exam Procedures usually state that you are not allowed to leave in the first half an hour of an exam, so if even if you think you haven’t a hope take that time to read the questions a few times and you might get inspired and be able to complete the paper.
Do not put your name on your answer book(s) but ensure your exam number is on all the books you use. Make sure you follow the instructions printed on the exam paper and on the answer book.
Any ‘rough work’ should be included in the answer book and identified as such.
Make sure you are seated where you can view a clock if you are not allocated a specific seat or otherwise bring in a watch.
You are not allowed to leave the hall within the final half an hour of the exam, so if you finish early you should use that time wisely by reading through your answers and making any final corrections.
You are not allowed to remove an answer book from the Exam Hall.
You can find all the rules and regulations about exams on the www.tudublin.ie website.
Once the exams and deadlines are over you should Relax – you deserve it!
Don’t do a post-mortem with your mates; this is a waste of time and you could end up stressed if you hear how others have said they answered the questions. When the results are published you can discuss with the relevant academic staff.
Check your TU Dublin email to find out when the results are available – there isn’t one release date for all students. If you have difficulties with the email/login get in touch with your local Exams office LINK.
After the results are published you should view your scripts and ask for feedback– even if you are pleased with the outcome, it’s always useful and it’s your right to do so.
Watch out for any specific dates for script viewing as there may be very tight deadlines. If you are having any difficulties getting feedback you can contact us, and we will follow up on your behalf if necessary
If you need any advice on any of this contact us at email@example.com and we will do our best to help you.
Coping with Exam Stress
- Breathe, you’ll get through this.
- Make a study plan, prioritise the exams you have first. Focus on key areas or topics based on hints given throughout the year and by looking at previous exam papers. This will give you an idea of what the questions will look like and which ones are popular. But don’t rely completely on topics that have come up regularly over the years to come up on your paper.
- Look on YouTube for videos summarising any topics you’re struggling to wrap your head around, or just want to refresh your memory on. Try and find podcasts discussing your topics covered and listen to whilst eating or on public transport. This will maximise your exposure before exams whilst allowing you to take ‘semi-breaks’.
- Shorten down your own notes and put them on cue cards or post it notes. Leave these around your room or study area. Ask people to quiz you on them.
- Download Quizlet app and input questions and answers. (This app does true or false, multiple choice and match up formats, which can actually make it fun to learn!). Test yourself at different periods throughout the day.
- Practise on previous exam questions and writing answers in a similar environment to the exam halls. Distractions away, phones off.
- Take regular breaks, drink plenty of fluids and have healthy snacks.
- Have 3 meals a day and focus on brain food. Smoothies, soup, fruits and vegetables are your friends.
- Try and get into a healthy sleep routine coming up to exams especially. Your brain will absorb more information and retain it better if you're well rested.
- Make silly, funny (or even rude!) acronyms of important theorists, authors, methods etc.
- E.g. Authors: Brown, Egan, Smith and Cullen - Brown Eggs Sell Cheese B, E, S, C. Write these acronyms down in your revision as soon as your exams begin and it will help jog your memory for different questions an hour into your exam.
- Get exercise on some of your study breaks, even if it’s a walk to the shop. Spend some time outside, touch some trees!
The Night Before
- Eat well, go over your summarised notes, bullet point essay plans.
- Do some meditation. Use apps such as Headspace/Calm or listen to some nature sounds with your eyes closed. YouTube has some short meditations too which can help relieve stress on the body and mind.
- If you normally do so, watch an episode of something before going to bed, or do some recreational reading. Get to bed at a reasonable hour.
- Check you have everything you need for getting to and from your exam and for in the exam itself. Check you have your leap card, that there's money on it, your student ID, lunch, pens - check they all work, calculator and any other tools you may need.
- Wear something comfortable to the exam.
When You’re Finished
- Don't dissect your paper after. What’s done is done and worrying about it will make no difference now. Do something relaxing or something you enjoy.
- Remember, exam results and grades don't define who you are as a person. There are more important things in life than grades, but it’s still nice to do well and know you did your very best.
- Try not to compare your grades with other’s. Your best can be very different to other people’s best.
- Be kind to yourself, don't focus on what you could have done but instead on what you can do now. You got this!
When something goes wrong…the Personal Circumstances Form
Often unexpected serious personal issues can affect a student's academic progress, this can be a family situation, bereavement, health issues, accident, and you’re not able to study, attend class or do assessments. If this happens it is important you let the relevant academic staff know so this can be noted, if necessary, at the Exam Boards when your marks are being considered.
The Personal Circumstances Form (PC1) is the process by which you can describe your situation and also enclose independent supporting evidence from a Doctor, Counsellor, a Chaplain, or other professional. This must be sent to your Exams Office within two days of sitting your final exam or at the same time as an assignment is due.
Remember that it is not possible to submit a PC1 after your results are published.
Breaches of Exam / Assessment Regulations – Cheating & Plagiarism
The University must ensure that all student assessment whether its exams, essays, assignments, projects, dissertations, practical work, lab tests etc is fair and that each student has an equal opportunity to demonstrate their learning to the best of their ability.
Where it is found that a student tries to gain an unfair advantage over others by various prohibited means it is considered ‘academic misconduct’. ‘Cheating’ and ‘Plagiarism’ are examples of academic misconduct and there is a whole raft of procedures that are applied when it is suspected that this occurred.
Plagiarism & How to Avoid it
Plagiarism is broadly defined as “taking or using another person's thoughts, writings or inventions as your own.”
Understand the assignment: Before you begin to read any secondary material make sure that you understand the assignment and what your lecturer is asking you to do. Once you have an idea of what you want to explore or research it will be easier to focus on finding suitable secondary material which will help you to emphasise your points.
Understand the source material: If you understand something, you will have far more freedom to select what material you need to make your point and put it in your own words. The more the essay is in your own words, the less likely it is to mirror the original text without quotations and result in plagiarism. Do this by reviewing each page or paragraph and ask yourself ‘What is this about? What is the point here? How is the writer/artist/academic making this point?’ Without looking at the original source write out your understanding of the points, then take the relevant ones for your essay or project.
Use the correct referencing system: This is the one set out by your lecturer, in your Student Handbook or the brief for the assessment. If in doubt, ask for their advice. Check it consistently throughout your work, and cross-check again before submitting.
Reference material as you go: So, when you’re writing instead of putting everything on the page and referencing afterwards, we recommend that you always note your sources as you go. This way you will avoid forgetting to source something, losing the tab, page, or paragraph the material came from, or citing the wrong source. This will also help when revising your work before submission. If you cannot do this for any reason, then at least keep a checklist of all your references with details of the website URL/article name/page number/paragraph and any other relevant information.
Have your sources at the ready when you proofread: You could decide to re-word something and it’s important to have the source close by so you can quickly check back on it and ensure you are not closely mimicking the text.
Give yourself time: If you’ve ever written an essay up to the hour of the submission deadline, you’ll know how tempting it is to just copy and paste material in a rush. This increases your chances of plagiarism as you may (accidentally or on purpose) hurry and leave out quotation marks, or not cite the reference.
Use the Academic Writing Centre: If you’ve used the correct referencing system, you’ve checked a few things you were unsure of with your lecturer, you’ve proofread it, but you’re still a bit confused or just want to be extra safe, you book a one-on-one appointment with the Academic Writing Centre and bring your work in for review. They provide some useful Academic Writing Resources.
See How to Avoid Plagiarism
Cheating & How to Avoid it
If you are caught copying another student’s work, or with notes in your pocket/writing on your hand, or with a phone on your person at an exam it is considered ‘cheating’ example of academic misconduct. The way to avoid it is to ensure that you don’t do it!
It is your responsibility to ensure you don’t have prohibited materials on your person during an exam. Saying you forgot to put your study notes / phone away, that it was accidental or that you were in a hurry is not considered an acceptable reason.
Never, ever, knowingly plagiarise or cheat, it is not worth it. You will cost yourself time, good grades, potential stress, and in extreme cases - your qualification.
You can find more information on TU Dublin’s procedures for suspected cases of plagiarism, cheating or other forms of unfair practice in the Blanchardstown Regs, City Campus Regs and the Tallaght Campus Regs.
If you have been accused of breaching any of these regulations you should contact us Advice@tudublinsu.ie and we will be able to advise you on the procedures and through any formal procedures to ensure that you are treated fairly at all times.
If you’re feeling anxious and need to talk through your situation in more detail or would like professional help you can always contact the TU Dublin Counselling Service and the TU Dublin Student Health Centres.