Central Examinations - Procedures - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Central Examinations - Procedures

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Approval authority
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
Responsible Executive member
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)
Designated officer
Academic Registrar and Director, Student Services
First approved
9 September 2013
Last amended
26 May 2022
Review date
27 April 2026
Status
Active
Related documents
Linked documents

1. Purpose of procedures

1.1 These procedures provide a broad framework for the conduct and design of central examinations.

2. Scope and application

2.1 These procedures refer to examinations identified as centrally scheduled examinations in the course outline.

2.2 These procedures apply to all students enrolled in coursework studies, and all staff involved in the administration and delivery of examinations within a centrally scheduled examination period.

3. Definitions

Please refer to the University’s Glossary of terms for policy and procedures. Terms and definitions identified below are specific to these procedures and are critical to the effectiveness of it:

Central examination is an examination that is timetabled within a centrally scheduled examination period or Supplementary/Deferred Examination Periods.

Course Coordinator is the academic staff member who is responsible for the course.

Examination booklet is a booklet/s provided by the University in which a student records answers to the examination paper.

Examination window refers to the period of time a student is permitted to access and complete an online examination.

Invigilator is an Examination Supervisor who is physically or virtually present and responsible for overseeing the conduct of the examination.

On-campus examination is an examination delivered on-campus and supervised by an invigilator.

Online examination is an examination delivered online via the University Learning Management System (LMS) or other approved technology platform.

4. Design

4.1 The Head of School is responsible for the design processes that ensures the quality of examinations.

4.2 To maintain academic integrity of examinations, Course Coordinators are responsible for ensuring that the following occurs:

(a) regularly change or refresh examination topics and/or questions;

(b) carefully design assessment to support academic integrity;

(c) design assessment tasks/topics around authentic activities relating to a work context or recent/current events;

(d) personalise the assessment topics by inviting the student to draw on their own experience; and

(e) design assessment tasks that assess the student’s process to complete the task.

4.3 Standards for online examinations:

(a) online examinations are delivered through the Learning Management System (LMS);

(b) alternatives to examinations should be considered in the first instance;

(c) online exams should reflect learning-centred pedagogy and assessment;

(d) authentic assessment choices are required;

(f) assign open book examinations to encourage teaching and assessing of higher order skills; and

(g) moderation of examination questions must occur prior to every iteration of the examination.

4.4 The design and administration of examinations is consistent with the Curriculum Design, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan and Universal Design for Learning principles, in that Course Coordinators will:

(a) be responsive with individual students’ circumstances and provide support for students’ requirements and reasonable adjustments;

(b) provide practice examinations for students in the online environment;

(c) provide support for and communication with students leading up to and during the examination period;

(d) provide students with an opportunity to look through the examination prior to completing answers, if appropriate;

(e) consider allowing ‘backtracking’ to be available in timed examinations; and

(f) provide concentrated support during peak assessment times such as Information Technology or Education Technology support or having Course Coordinators and/or tutors available.

5. Scheduling

5.1 Student Business Services will ensure that a final central examination timetable is produced and published no later than Week 9 of each semester (or the equivalent in other teaching periods).

5.2 Students must make themselves available to undertake their examinations at the scheduled date, time and venue (including an online sitting), unless unavailable due to extenuating circumstances (refer to Deferred Examinations - Procedures) or approved alternative sitting at another venue under these procedures.

5.3 A student’s examination timetable may include different types of examinations including on-campus and online examinations.

5.4 Scheduling guidelines

5.4.1 In order to ensure an environment which allows a student to perform to their potential, the examination timetable is prepared, as far as practicable, according to the following guidelines:

(a) examinations may be held between the hours of 8am and 9pm on weekdays and between 8am and 5pm on Saturdays;

(b) wherever possible examinations for courses with high enrolments, other than those with multiple choice examinations, are scheduled towards the beginning of the examination period;

(c) a student should not be required to undertake more than two examinations on a single examination day;

(d) there should be a minimum break of one hour between examinations for a student with consecutive examinations held on a single examination day;

(e) a student should not normally be required to undertake examinations on more than three days in succession, and should not normally be required to take more than four examinations in three successive days;

(f) on-campus examinations will normally be held on the campus or delivery site where teaching in the course concerned is normally conducted. However, Student Business Services will consider the suitability of location based on available facilities;

(g) where courses are taught at more than one campus or delivery site, the same examination questions (or bank of questions) must be set and where possible the examinations take place simultaneously and under comparable conditions;

(i) in most instances where a course is offered in both on-campus and online delivery modes, the examination will be delivered online for all enrolled students. Exceptions to this may occur for courses where examinations have to be invigilated for accreditation requirements. In these circumstances, on-campus students may need to attend an on-campus invigilated examination and online students may have an online invigilated examination;

(j) online examinations will be scheduled in examination windows and may have staggered start times. Staggered start times will be determined in consultation between the Course Coordinator, Centre for Support and Advancement of Learning and Teaching and Student Business Services and will be noted in the examination timetable.

(k) online examinations may be scheduled to be completed within one 4-hour examination window or may be scheduled in an extended examination window across an 8-hour, 24-hour, 48-hour or 5-day period. Extended examination windows will be noted in the examination timetable;

(l) in addition to (k), where an extended examination window falls across multiple examination sessions, Student Business Services will ensure there is at least one clash-free session in which the student can sit any other examinations.

5.5 Alternative venues for central examinations

5.5.1 Students are expected to sit all their examinations at the venue specified in their examination schedule.

5.5.2 Students who can demonstrate that sitting a central or deferred examination at the venue specified in the examination timetable will cause excessive hardship due to circumstances outside of their control may make an application to sit the examination at an alternative venue.

5.5.3 Approval to sit an examination at an alternative venue is made by the Academic Registrar and Director, Student Services. If approved, the Academic Registrar and Director, Student Services will determine an appropriate charge and inform the student of those costs. The student will be required to find and organise a suitable venue and an appropriate invigilator. Any costs that may be incurred in organising a venue or utilising an invigilator will be borne by the student.

5.6 Alternative examination arrangements for students with special requirements

5.6.1 Reasonable adjustments to examination durations, locations and equipment will be made for students on an approved Learning Access Plan.

5.6.2 AccessAbility Services is responsible for assessing and approving Learning Access Plans and must notify Students Business Services of alternative examination arrangements via the Examinations Management System.

5.6.3 Students approved alternative examination arrangements will be sent individualised timetables by the end of Week 12 for standard semesters, or equivalent for other teaching periods.

5.6.4 Course Coordinators will be notified by the end of Week 12 of alternative examination arrangements. For online examinations, the Course Coordinate is responsible for ensuring examination conditions are accounted for in the examination set-up in the LMS.

5.7 Offshore student adjustments

5.7.1 At the discretion of the Course Coordinator, adjustments to the examination start time will be taken into consideration, to ensure compliance with the scheduling guidelines above in the student’s registered address time-zone.

5.8 Availability of the Course Coordinator

5.8.1 For on-campus examinations, the Course Coordinator, or delegate, is required to:

(a) be at the main examination venue at least 10 minutes prior to the commencement of the examination;

(b) remain for the period of perusal time to clarify anomalies with aids and materials; and

(c) be available by telephone for the duration of the examination to answer any questions.

5.8.2 In the situation where an examination is being run simultaneously at another delivery site, the Course Coordinator, or delegate, must be contactable by telephone.

5.8.3 For online examinations, the Course Coordinator, or delegate, is required to:

(a) be available by telephone from the commencement of the examination and remain contactable for the duration of the examination;

(b) be able to access the LMS to update examination settings, if required; and

(c) provide students with details on how they can be contacted during the examination should any issues arise. This may be via phone, email or other University-approved tools (e.g. Zoom). Where contact cannot be made, issues will be escalated to the Head of School.

5.8.4 Any delegate undertaking the duties of the Course Coordinator in accordance with this section of the procedures must be familiar with the learning outcomes of the course and the content of the examination.

6. Administration

6.1 Central examinations are held in the centrally scheduled examination period at the end of a teaching period, as published on the online academic calendar. These central examination periods have associated supplementary and deferred examination periods.

6.2 Centrally scheduled-administered examinations

6.2.1 For on-campus examinations, the Course Coordinator is responsible for generating the examination cover sheet and questions, and must ensure that:

(a) the USC approved cover sheet and examination questions are submitted to Student Business Services no later than three weeks prior to the start of the examination period;

(b) the USC cover sheet clearly identifies the materials that are permitted in the examination;

(c) examination questions conforms with the University’s guidelines on format and presentation; and

(d) examination questions are complete and free of errors.

6.2.2 Student Business Services is responsible for arranging the printing of the required number of on-campus examination papers. The cost of printing the examination papers will be costed to the relevant School.

6.2.3 At all stages of preparation for examinations, examination papers must be stored, transferred and printed securely.

6.2.4 For online examinations, the Course Coordinator is responsible for uploading the examination into the LMS by the end of Week 12 for standard semester courses, or the equivalent for other teaching periods.

6.2.5 All examinations must be clear, unambiguous and free of errors.

6.3 School-administered examinations

6.3.1 School-administered examination means any examination or test administered by a school. Heads of School are responsible for the organisation and conduct of assessment tasks, including School-administered examinations held within the central examination period.

6.3.2 School-administered examinations held within the central examination period would only occur if there is a requirement for special facilities located within the school, for example, oral presentations or computer laboratories.

6.3.2 To ensure the timing of the examination is consistent with the University’s procedures on the scheduling of examinations (see scheduling guidelines above), if a School-administered examination is to be held during the central examination period, the Course Coordinator must advise Student Business Services and note that it is a School-administered examination to ensure that the examination is included in the scheduling of the examination timetable.

7. Examination aids

7.1 Aids and materials for a central on-campus examination

7.1.1 It is the responsibility of the Course Coordinator to specify clearly which aids and materials students are permitted for a central on-campus examination. This information must be consistent in both the examination request and examination cover sheet.

7.1.2 Students are permitted to take into a central on-campus examination the following general examination aids:

(a) writing implements i.e. pens, pencils, erasers, correction fluid/tape;

(b) an unannotated bilingual English translation dictionary, unless specified as not permissible by the Course Coordinator. The dictionary must not have any materials attached to or inserted into it; and

(c) other examination aids that a Course Coordinator has specified as permissible. These aids are a programmable, non-programmable or any calculator and/or an English dictionary or Thesaurus. If an English dictionary or Thesaurus is permitted aid, it must not be annotated, nor have any other materials attached to or inserted into it.

7.1.3 It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that they bring the permitted materials to the on-campus examination as these materials will not be available at the examination venue.

7.1.4 It is the responsibility of the invigilator to ensure that only permissible materials are brought into the on-campus examination venue and used by students. Unauthorised materials will be confiscated by the invigilator and may be returned to the student at the end of the examination.

7.1.5 The checking of on-campus examination aids and materials is carried out at the beginning of each central examination and the Course Coordinator (or delegate) should be available at the examination venue for the beginning of the examination to clarify any anomalies that may arise.

7.2 Bilingual English translation dictionaries

7.2.1 Only concise, direct translation dictionaries are acceptable; translation dictionaries with extensive interpretation or advanced level translation are not permitted.

7.2.2 Bilingual translation dictionaries for specific professions or disciplines of study are not permitted in any language, unless specified by the Course Coordinator on the examination cover sheet.

7.2.3 The use of bilingual translation dictionaries for foreign language course examinations, where one of the languages in the bilingual translation dictionary is the same or a similar language to that being examined, is not permitted unless specified by the Course Coordinator on the examination cover sheet.

7.3 Closed book examinations

7.3.1 Closed Book Examinations do not allow any further materials apart from those permissible aids outlined in Section 7.1 above. ‘Closed Book’ must be selected in the examination request and stated on the examination cover sheet.

7.4 Open book examinations

7.4.1 In an Open Book Examination, a student is permitted further written and/or electronic aids as specified by the Course Coordinator. The examination cover sheet must specify the following details:

(a) that it is an ‘Open Book Examination’;

(b) the type and forms of materials and aids permitted e.g. textbook, notes, book of readings, laptop computers, any non-electronic materials;

(c) if only specific textbooks or guides are permitted, these must be clearly referenced; and

(d) whether the materials are permitted to be annotated, and the extent of this annotation i.e. whether underlining, highlighting, marginal notes, loose leaf inserts and/or tagging are permitted.

8. On-campus central examinations

8.1 Duration and timing

8.1.1 The time allowed for on-campus central examinations will be in hour blocks of either one hour or two hours in duration.

8.1.2 The time allowed for perusal is 10 minutes; a Course Coordinator can identify a longer period of perusal time of up to 30 minutes when completing their online examination request.

8.2 Student identification

8.2.1 For all on-campus central examinations, a student is required to provide acceptable photographic identification at the examination venue.

8.2.2 Acceptable identification includes:

(a) USC Student Card;

(b) Driver’s Licence or Learner’s Permit;

(c) 18+ card; or

(d) Passport

8.2.3 A student without acceptable identification will be allowed to undertake the examination. However, the student cannot leave the examination venue until an invigilator or a member of Student Business Services has verified their identity by checking the University’s recorded image of the student. If the student’s identity cannot be verified by Student Business Services, then the Academic Registrar and Director, Student Services will determine whether the circumstances warrant the student being given further opportunity to present suitable evidence of identity. If the student fails to provide the required evidence, the Academic Registrar and Director, Student Services will refer the case to the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students) under the Student Conduct – Governing Policy.

8.2.4 In addition to 8.2.3, until a student’s identity has been established the student’s examination booklet/s is held by the Academic Registrar and Director, Student Services and will not be forwarded for marking.

8.3 Student attendance at examinations

8.3.1 It is a student’s responsibility to be aware of the published start time for the examinations.

8.3.2 A student who arrives late but within 40 minutes (which includes 10 minutes perusal time) of the official commencement time must present themselves to an invigilator and will be permitted to complete their examination within the scheduled examination time period. The invigilator records details on an Incident Report that is provided to the Course Coordinator.

8.3.3 If a student arrives more than 40 minutes after the official commencement time the student must report directly to Student Central.

8.3.4 If there are exceptional circumstances as to why a student was unable to get to the examination within 40 minutes of its commencement time, the Deferred Examination – Procedures should be followed.

8.3.5 In accordance with the Deferred Examination – Procedures, failure to read the examination timetable correctly would not normally be regarded as being outside the control of the student.

8.4 Procedures during the examination

8.4.1 Every student in attendance at an examination must complete the attendance slip provided and fill in details required on the front cover of the examination booklet/s.

8.4.2 During the designated perusal time, students are permitted to:

(a) read the examination paper and request clarification of question/s in the examination paper; and

(b) (if specified by the Course Coordinator) make notes on loose-leaf paper provided or on the examination paper.

8.4.3 During the perusal time students are not permitted to write in the examination booklet or on the examination paper if the examination paper is required to be submitted for marking (e.g. multiple choice or short answer questions written directly on the paper).

8.4.4 No student commences writing answers until authorised by the invigilator. If the student writes during perusal on examination materials that are not to be written on the invigilator will either replace the item or mark on the material that it was written during perusal.

8.4.5 All students must stop writing when instructed by the invigilator. At the end of the examination all remaining students must stay seated until all examination papers and examination booklets have been collected.

8.4.6 During an examination, students are not permitted to speak to, or communicate with, any other student.

8.4.7 A student can request to leave the venue for a toilet break after the perusal period has concluded. When approval is given by the invigilator for a toilet break, the student is supervised during their period of absence.

8.5 Procedures for leaving the examination venue

8.5.1 A student is not permitted to leave the examination venue in the first 40 minutes after the published starting time or during the last 15 minutes of any examination.

8.5.2 After the first 40 minutes of the examination has lapsed, the student can request to leave the examination venue permanently.

8.5.3 No student is re-admitted to an examination venue after they have left it unless during the full period of the absence the student has been under approved supervision.

8.5.4 A student wishing to permanently leave the examination venue must hand all examination materials to the invigilator who endorses the examination booklet/s as correctly identifying the student. A student cannot remove any examination papers, examination booklet/s, scrap paper or attendance slips from the examination venue.

8.6 Collection of examination booklets and examination papers

8.6.1 The Course Coordinator (or delegate) is responsible for collecting the examination papers and examination booklets at the advised times and signing the examination collection report as receipt of the number of examination booklet/s and papers prior to taking them.

8.6.2 For central examinations, examination papers and examination booklet/s may be collected by the Course Coordinator (or delegate) from the examination venue up to 15mins after the scheduled finish time. Any examination papers and examination booklet/s not collected from the examination venue can be collected from Student Business Services.

8.6.3 If uncollected by the Course Coordinator (or delegate) by the end of the examination period, the relevant School office is contacted and requested to collect the papers on behalf of the Course Coordinator.

8.7 Interruption to a central examination

8.7.1 An invigilator may suspend the progress of an examination if an incident occurs which the invigilator judges is likely to significantly disrupt the progress of a student or students in the examination.

8.8 Procedures for dealing with a disruption to an examination

8.8.1 If an invigilator, Student Business Services, Security or emergency services personnel decide that the evacuation of an examination venue is necessary, all students must leave the venue as quickly as possible and proceed to the appropriate evacuation assembly area. Students may take their personal belongings that are at their desk with them but must leave all examination materials in the examination venue.

8.8.2 The invigilator (after consultation with Student Business Services) must cancel the examination if it cannot be recommenced within 20 minutes. In such cases, the matter is referred to the relevant Head of School who, in consultation with the Course Coordinator, decides on one of the following options:

(a) the rescheduling of another examination in the same examination period;

(b) the awarding of a deferred examination to all students involved;

(c) the assessing of students on work already completed for the course; or

(d) a combination of the above options.

8.8.3 In regard to 8.8.2 (a) the Head of School or Course Coordinator should contact Student Business Services to determine whether there is sufficient time remaining in the examination period to accommodate this option.

8.8.4 The decision reached by the Head of School should be communicated to the students and the Academic Registrar and Director, Student Services within 24 hours of the sitting of the disrupted examination.

8.8.5 Under the Student Conduct - Governing Policy, any student disrupting an examination can be instantly dismissed from the examination venue at the discretion of the invigilator. Where dismissal is the appropriate course of action, the examination supervisor or invigilator documents the incident and provides a report, as per the Student Misconduct - Procedures.

9. Online central examinations

9.1 Duration and timing

9.1.1 Online examinations may be one or two hours in duration. An additional 30-minute period may be added to the writing start time to account for perusal time, uploading of student responses and/or potential disruptions to internet services. Additional time is at the discretion of the Head of School, in keeping with assessment design.

9.1.2 Long-response examinations may have a duration of up to 4 hours with approval by the Head of School. Examinations with a 4-hour writing time will be scheduled for afternoon examination sessions or the final morning of the examination period.

9.1.3 No separate perusal time is allocated for online examinations.

9.2 Student identification

9.2.1 For standard, non-invigilated online examinations, a student’s identity will be authenticated digitally.

9.2.2 For online examinations that are invigilated to meet accreditation requirements, students may be asked to display acceptable identification to the online invigilator. Acceptable identification includes:

(a) USC Student Card;

(b) Driver’s Licence or Learner’s Permit;

(c) 18+ card; or

(d) Passport.

9.3 Online examination sitting and late commencement

9.3.1 Standard online examinations will be open-book. Invigilated online examinations may have restrictions on what materials students can access during the examination, and this information will be provided to the students prior to the examination.

9.3.2 Students are expected to sit online examinations in their home or at other suitable location.

9.3.2 Where students do not have a suitable location, they may register interest to sit the examination at an unsupervised on-campus venue. Students will be notified of available on-campus venues in advance of the examination period.

9.3.3 Where a student sits an online examination at an on-campus venue, they are expected to use their own device. Limited University computers will be made available for use and must be requested in advance.

9.3.4 Students with an examination start time noted in their examination timetable will commence their examination at the time specified. Students who do not commence their examination within 30 minutes of the examination start time may be asked to provide evidence of circumstances that prevented them commencing on time.

9.3.5 Examinations that have an extended examination window, for example across an 8hr, 24hr, 48hr or 1 week window, do not have to be commenced at the beginning of the examination window. In these circumstances, a student may commence at a time which suits them, so long as they submit by the due date and time indicated in their examination timetable.

9.3.6 If there are exceptional circumstances as to why a student was unable to start the examination on-time, the Deferred Examination – Procedures should be followed.

9.3.7 In relation to 9.3.6, and in accordance with the Deferred Examination – Procedures, failure to read the examination timetable correctly would not normally be regarded as being outside the control of the student.

9.4 Interruption to an online central examination

9.4.1 During an online examination, if a disruption or interruption occurs, for example a power outage, loss of internet access or equipment failure, students should refer to the contact and support information listed in the examination information webpage for immediate assistance.

9.4.2 A student unable to commence or re-commence their online examination due to interruption should contact Student Central as soon as possible and collate relevant supporting documentation (such as screenshots of error messages and/or ISP/power provider website, evidence of communication with Student IT Help Desk and/or Course Coordinator) that can be provided as part of applications for deferred examination or review of final grade.

9.4.3 If the interruption is a result of server or connectivity issues with the LMS and impacts the whole cohort, Education Technology Support will monitor the duration of outage. Where possible, lost time will be added to the student’s examination duration once connection is restored. If the interruption coincides with the examination end time, Heads of School will decide an appropriate remedy, and Student Business Services will be in contact with students to advise of a remedy within 24 hours.

10. Academic misconduct in examinations

10.1 For on-campus or invigilated online examinations, invigilators should report any suspected academic misconduct in examinations as per the University’s Student Misconduct – Procedures.

10.2 For online examinations, Course Coordinators should report any suspected academic misconduct in examinations as per the University’s Student Misconduct – Procedures.

11. Authorities/Responsibilities

11.1 The following authorities/responsibilities are delegated under these procedures:

Activity

University Officer/Committee

Responsible for the administration of central examinations, including deferred and supplementary examinations.

Associate Director, Student Business Services

Responsible for providing the quality assured examinations.

Course Coordinator

Where these procedures state “Course Coordinator or delegate” (or similar) the delegate undertaking duties of the Course Coordinator must be appropriate in all the circumstances. In addition, any Course Coordinator delegate under 5.8 must be familiar with the learning outcomes of the course and the content of the examination.

Responsible for supporting academics in designing and quality assuring examinations.

Director, Centre for Support and Advancement of Learning

Must comply with the conditions and requirements set for the examination, and follow all directions given by the Course Coordinator and/or invigilator administering the examination.

Students

END