University of Nottingham (UoN) Sociology students have been informed that the marks obtained in their recent “Social Perspectives of Medicine: The Case of Psychiatry” exam will be disregarded from their overall module grade.

The exam, sat by second and third year students on the 12th January, included the same essay questions that were already administered as coursework questions earlier in the semester.

An email was sent from the school of Sociology and Social Policy on the 18th January informing the students that the blundering mistake was an “unusual administrative error”. As a result, the essay assessment that was already submitted would now be used to make up the full 100% credit weighting of the module.

“It was obviously very distressing to be told [the exam] was a complete waste of time”

Students were told that if they were unsatisfied with their essay marks, they could choose to retake the exam during the summer – they would have thirty days after the receipt of their results with which to make this decision.

Chanelle Olaleye, a Sociology student who sat the exam, told Impact that she felt extremely disadvantaged by the decision. “As a student who is better suited to exams, I left the examination feeling confident with my answer, it was obviously very distressing to be told it was a complete waste of time,” she said.

Chanelle explained that she had answered an essay question that was on a completely different topic to the one that she had studied in her coursework and did not realise that the questions on the exam paper were the same during the exam itself.

“A lot of students pick their module options based on the choice of assessment available”

She went on to say that: “A month’s worth of revision, and the emotional stress of preparing for an exam, for it simply to be disregarded is completely unjust and frankly outrageous”.

Chanelle pointed out that a lot of students pick their module options based on the choice of assessment available, which in the case of this module, was split evenly between coursework and an exam. “Having a variety of assessment is usually good because some people do better in exams than coursework and vice versa, but this has been taken away.”

Students voiced their concerns via email to the module convenor but were told that not much more could be done on the matter.

“Economics students were left waiting for 45 minutes in an Microeconomic Theory exam”

This however, is not the only error that has occurred involving poor exam administration this exam season.

A whole cohort of second year Economics students were left waiting for 45 minutes in an Microeconomic Theory exam after being given last year’s paper. Students were reported to have been left waiting in a hot exam hall whilst the correct paper was printed out.

As well as this, a fire drill also occurred in a second year Maths exam. When students were evacuated they were unsupervised and allowed to communicate with each other about the exam.

A student who wished to remain anonymous said “It was the strangest exam I had been in, people were talking about the questions outside and when we sat back down to continue the exam it was really difficult to get back into the zone”.

A University of Nottingham spokesperson told Impact that they “regret any situations” that have impacted on student exam experiences.

They said: “In the case of a fire alarm the first priority of invigilators is to see to the safe evacuation of students and the security of the scripts themselves. Any incident in an examination reported to or experienced by the invigilators is reported to the School such that it may be considered during the marking process”.

They went on to state that “If a student would like to raise any issues about the operation of examinations or make any suggestions for the future they can [email protected]”.

By Belinda Toor

Image by Pete via flickr

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