Royal Holloway Announces Alternative Assessment Plans

After a few weeks waiting on tenterhooks, it’s been announced by the college today what their plans are in regard to some assessments. While information differs slightly from department to department, but as a general overview there some key themes that run through most undergraduate assessments – postgraduate taught students will have to wait until 8 April for more information on what will be happening with their assessments.

Remember to always check with your schools and departments to see what the latest information is related to your specific subject.

Firstly, we know the dates for this alternative assessment. – Timetables will be released on 8 April, then assessments will run from May 4 to 12 June with results being available to students from July 14.

For second year, third year, and final year students the college has introduced a ‘safety net’ and a ‘best 90’policy, which will return to shortly but is designed to make sure that results will be balanced adjusted for the disruption that occurred.

For first year students, the exact type of assessments that will be going ahead will differ depending on subject area and department, but exams will be delivered in a different format to the usual invigilated elated exam style – this, according to the college, will consist of things such as short essay questions, Moodle quizzes, or problem solving exercises. The year doesn’t count towards your final degree classification, but you’ll still need to pass it to progress onto second year and deadlines for outstanding coursework in terms two and three still apply. According to the college, resit opportunities will be available.

For students in second, third and final year the University has settled on three different types of assessment:

  • short written pieces for text-based subjects
  • problem solving exercises for numerical subjects
  • online short answer multiple choice quizzes

Each form of assessment will have a window in which it needs to be completed but are designed to take a fewer number of hours than the window as a whole – more information will be coming from departments by 8 April as to how long that window will be for individual subjects.

The ‘Safety Net’, ‘Best 90’ and other Considerations

All Students

If, for whatever reason, you can’t submit your alternative assessment you will be offered another attempt at the assessment without needing to apply for extenuating circumstances. These will take place at the earliest possible opportunity and there won’t be an additional charge for additional attempts.

Final Year Undergraduates

The final year safety net means that all work from your second and final year that was unaffected by coronavirus and the strikes that took place earlier this year will be totted up and an average worked out which will calculate what the college are calling a “safety net baseline final degree percentage” – essentially your final degree classification will not fall below this average. The college gives this example:

“if, for example, your baseline mark is under 70% but 60% or over you will be awarded at least an upper second-class degree, providing you pass enough credits overall to graduate.”

So, you still have to pass the year but the average of the work you’ve done so far will be guaranteed and won’t be affected by the unique circumstances that are ongoing.

Normally your work for the year is calculated based on hundred and 20 credits that you take. However the Best 90 policy will mean that the overall percentage of your final year will be based on the Best 90 credits out of the hundred and 20 are you taking this year – i.e. the lowest marks will not be used to calculate your final year percentage. If, once calculated, your final year classification is lower than the safety net baseline your final score won’t decrease below what you’ve already been averaging – i.e. your degree classification can only go up, not down.

These policies will still apply to degrees that are professionally accredited but clear information will be coming from your schools.

Second Year Undergraduates

For second years, the safety net means that once your final degree percentage has been worked out whenever you’ve achieved in second year will not lower your final score. The University will make two calculations:

  • they will calculate your degree score normally i.e. they will work out what you got the second year, and what you got for your final year (but your final year score will be double weighted, as it would be normally)
  • they will calculate an average of your third year alone

Whichever one of these two schools are higher will be your final degree classification.

Third Year Non-finalists and Fourth Year Finalists

the University is still working on how to apply it Safety Net and Best 90 policies to students in this position and will make the information available as soon as possible. Keep checking back here and listening out for information from your schools and departments.

For Students with Access Arrangements

if you usually have so-called access arrangements for assessments that are carried out under ‘normal’ exam conditions then, according to the college, the window you’ll have to do your assessment has been designed to make sure you’ve got sufficient time to complete the task at hand. However, the disability and dyslexia service will be sending information to students that is specific disabilities once individual timetables have been published.

Students who are registered with a disability dyslexia service should email them if they got any questions: [email protected]

What if I have IT issues, don’t have a computer, or don’t have internet access?

If you don’t have access to IT equipment for financial reasons then the University has said that students should talk to the financial well-being team as they may be able to look at ways to finance equipment if necessary through the study support grant – note that this is subject to eligibility.

If you’re having IT problems, for example technical difficulties, the University suggests you should look at these pages.

If the problems that you might have with IT equipment mean that you won’t be able to attempt your assessment within the window that will be allocated then you need to look here and should email your school as soon as you can including if you’re having trouble submitting your assessment on the day.

Note that these alternative assessments are not eligible for extensions, but the first sit policy may mean that you get another shot – however, always email your school and check what options are available to you.

With these announcements has come some clarity, but departments have noted that they are getting questions from students that they themselves had not considered and are doing their best to answer them.

Remember to always check with your schools and departments to see what the latest information is related to your specific subject.

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