Exams and assessments 2020-21 FAQs

Frequently asked questions about exams and assessments, including mitigation measures, for 2020-21

Extension of ID cards and access to services for students taking Late Summer Assessments

If you’re taking Late Summer Assessments (LSAs) this August, you will continue to have access to all the same services and facilities throughout the summer period. This includes entry into libraries, laptop loans, printing and scanning facilities, access to Moodle, and all other support services. Your access will be extended automatically and you do not need to contact UCL to request this. 

If you’re taking LSAs and your ID card expiry date is earlier, please disregard this – you will be able to continue using your ID card even after this date has passed, until September 2021.

These FAQs are under continuous review and were last updated on 23 April 2021.

 Exams 2021 FAQs

Preparing for my Late Summer Assessments (LSAs)


Late Summer Assessment (LSA) period will take place from 16 August - 3 September 2021.

If you have failed or deferred exams or assessments for 2020–21 modules, this information will be detailed in your results email on 8 July. 

For more information on sitting a centrally-managed exam during the LSA, see the Exams at UCL 2020-21 page. 

How can I view my timetable?

See How to view your exam timetable page for instructions. 

I have a 24 hour exam. What does this mean?

If you have a 24 hour exam, you will have 24 hours from the start date and time of the exam to begin, complete and submit your exam on AssessmentUCL. You must submit your exam within the 24 hour period. 

Please note, if you have a SORA, you will automatically be given 24 hours to complete and submit your exam. See the FAQ on having a SORA below. 

I have a timed exam within a 24 hour window. What does this mean?  

For a timed exam taking place within a 24 hour window, you must START your exam within the 24 hour period.  

From the point you begin your exam, the clock will START and you will have timed period allotted to complete the exam, plus an additional 1 hour upload window to ensure you have sufficient time to upload your exam. 

As long as you start your exam before the end of the 24 hour window, you will still have the full time to complete the exam.   

If you do not start the exam before the end of the 24 hour window, it will no longer be available. 

Please note, if you have a SORA all your exams will be 24 hour exams. Please see the FAQ on having a SORA below.

Why are some exams shorter than 24 hours? 

The time allocated reflects the type of assessment you are completing, which may vary according to differences in disciplines or subject matter.

All exams are designed so that they can be completed in much shorter time than 24 hours. However, the 24 hour window accommodates students requiring an examination adjustment and can allow students in different time zones to do the work at a more suitable time for them. Where the assessment type allows, that is what has been adopted.

With some other assessment types, for example, multiple choice exams, case studies, maths-based exams, they are designed to be time-bound, so a shorter slot is allocated within a 24 hour window. Note:  The clock only starts when you start the exam.

Where the exam requires upload onto a platform (e.g. is a centrally organised exam on the AssessmentUCL platform) there is extra time – outside of the time required to actually complete the exam – in case of any difficulties uploading your paper. This is called an ‘upload window’. 

If you have been assessed and have a SORA granting you additional time and/or a rest break, you will have 24 hours to complete your examination whether you are taking a timed exam or a 24 hour exam – given this extra time, you will therefore not see an additional 1-hour upload window. 

Therefore, there is variation in length of some exams, but all have been purposely designed that way – the time is not arbitrary.

See Exams at UCL 2020-21 for more information. 

How will I know what kind of exam I am sitting? A 24 hour exam or a timed exam in a 24 hour window? 

Your timetable will reveal what type of exam you are sitting because it will show the examination duration. The exam type will also be clearly labelled with the duration in the AssesssmentUCL platform, alongside the link to your exam paper.

Where can I find the link to AssessmentUCL?

You can access AssessmentUCL here, using your UCL login details.  

We will also include a link to AssessmentUCL from the Moodle log-in page, and in all emails you receive about centrally-managed exams.

I have a SORA; will I get extra time for my exam?

All students with SORAs will receive a full 24 hours for all exams; this is the same both for 24 hour exams and timed exams within a 24 hour period. On your exam timetable, all your exams will be stated as 24 hour exams. 

This is a UCL-wide policy decision made by Education Committee that ensures a consistent approach for students with SORAs and consideration of their wellbeing. 

I have a departmentally managed exam that lasts longer than 24 hours; do students with a SORA get additional time?  

Please contact your department for information on departmental exams. 

Please note for centrally-managed exams, all exams will be either 24 hours or a timed exam within a 24 hour period. 

How will I access my exam? 

Centrally managed exams will be accessed on AssessmentUCL, our new digital assessment platform.   

You will be able to download a copy of your exam paper, complete it offline (either completing a handwritten response or a typed response), and then upload and submit a PDF of your response on AssessmentUCL. For step-by-step guides including screenshots, see How to do your exam on AssessmentUCL

For more general information about AssessmentUCL and centrally managed exams, see Exams at UCL 2020-21

A small number of modules are taking part in a pilot which will allow them to use of more of the AssessmentUCL's functionality. If a module you are taking has an assessment in the pilot, you will be informed directly. This will not change how you access AssessmentUCL or your assessment. You will however be able to answer questions directly in AssessmentUCL rather than converting your responses to a PDF document. 

What training is available for AssessmentUCL?

You have access to a practice environment (a practice exam) within AssessmentUCL. This will enable you to practice all the steps that you will need to do for your exams. 

It is essential that you use this practice environment in good time before your exam, using the device that you intend to take your exams on.

For general information and a summary of how to complete the practice exam, see Exams at UCL 2020-2

For a step-by-step guide including screenshots, see How to do your exam on AssessmentUCL.  

I have two exams on the same day - how do I manage this? 

Producing the exam timetable is a very complex task, coordinating over 2,700 different exam papers for 87,000 exam sittings for individual students, so we do advise that you plan for multiple exams in a short period - perhaps even two exams on one day. 

However, you will not be expected to work for 24 hours; the work effort and time expectation should be similar to that in an ordinary exam.  The intention of the 24 hour period is there to ensure that you have more time in which to plan your work. 

If you have two exams scheduled on the same day, it’s really important to plan it into your study schedule. See the Assessment Planning guide for guidance on studying and preparing for your exams.  

I have two exams on the same day, at least 1 of which is a timed exam - How do I manage this? 

For your timed exam you will be expected to start your exam within the 24 hour window, the clock will start running when you access your examination and select START. From that point in time you will have the duration of the exam plus an additional 1hour upload window. You will only have the duration indicated to work on your examination.  

I have a SORA and have two exams in a day - How do I manage this? 

You will have the whole 24 hour period in which you can work on each of the two exams.  

For other students on your course, the exam may be a timed exam within a 24 hour period but this will not impact the 24 hours you have been given for your exam. You will have more thinking, planning and writing time which students without a SORA will not have. 

Where can I find support with revising and preparing for exams? 

Check out the Exam success guide, designed to help you perform at the best of your ability on the day of your exam and get the best possible results.

If you would like to talk to someone about help with preparing for exams, you can also contact your personal tutor or get in touch Student Support and Wellbeing through askUCL, our online student enquiries system.

What is the difference between a centrally-managed and a departmentally-managed exam? 

Centrally Managed exams: These are exams that are scheduled and managed by the UCL Examinations Team and appear on your examination timetable. All centrally managed exams for 2020-21 will take place on the new AssessmentUCL platform, NOT on Moodle.

Departmentally managed exams/assessments: These assessments are managed solely by your department without any input from the UCL Examinations Team. These assessments will not appear on your examinations timetable. If you have any of these exams, departments will tell you about them separately. 

In 2020-21, departmentally-managed assessments will NOT take place in AssessmentUCL unless it is part of a pilot programme. Your department has told you if you are a part of that pilot and where you can find your exam. 

Please ask your module tutor or AskUCL if you are not sure where to find any of your exams.



On exam day

Accessing Assessment UCL 

How do I access AssessmentUCL

You can log into AssessmentUCL using this link https://uk.wiseflow.net/ucl

You should select the login ‘eduGAIN’ to be taken to the UCL Single Sign-on page. Enter your UCL username and password to log in.

I cannot log in to AssessmentUCL – what do I do? 

If you can log into other UCL accounts but not AssessmentUCL please contact the UCL Examinations via AskUCL.

If you have forgotten your password, please go to MyAccount.

If you are unable to access anything, including your UCL email, please contact the ISD service desk.

Do I need a VPN/Desktop@UCL Anywhere to access AssessmentUCL?

No. Neither is required to access AssessmentUCL. Using VPN and Desktop@UCL may slow down your experience.

For more information on getting online at UCL please visit the Get Connected webpage.

I am struggling to get a good internet connection – where can I get help?

For further assistance on getting online at UCL please visit the Get Connected webpage.

I could previously acccess AssessmentUCL but now I get a notification of a general error – what should I do? 

Please clear your cache data on your browser.

If you are still having issues accessing AssessmentUCL please contact the UCL Examinations via AskUCL.

I need to reset my password, can I request more time to complete my exam/assessment? 

It will not be possible to provide extra time if you need to reset your password. It is essential that you prepare in advance of your exam. See more Top tips to get ready for exam day.

What browser do I need to use to access AssessmentUCL?

AssessmentUCL supports the two latest major versions of the following browsers:

  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Safari
  • Opera
  • Edge.

If you have a version of the browsers above that is more than two versions old (e.g. you have Safari 12 rather than Safari 13 or 14), you will need to update it or use an alternative browser.


Accessing your exam/assessment instance 

I can't see my AssessmentUCL exam or assessment instance – what should I do? 

The exam instances have now been added to AssessmentUCL. These are based on your module registrations.

If you cannot see one or more of your exam instances please contact the UCL Examinations via AskUCL.

I can see the exam instance but cannot access the exam – is this normal? 

You will not be able to access the exam/assessment until the start date and time. For centrally managed exams, this will be the start date and time listed in your exam timetable, for departmental assessments this will be the start date and time provided by your department. Please try and access your exam/assessment once this time has started. You may need to refresh your browser.

If the exam/assessment has started and you are unable to access your exam/assessment please contact the UCL Examinations via AskUCL.

Please note the time listed on AssessmentUCL is your local time whereas the information provided by your Department/listed on your exam timetable will be BST time.

I have a timed exam, the 24 hour period has started but I cannot access the exam when I click on the assessment instance – what do I do? 

Once the 24-hour window has commenced for a timed exam, you must click on the exam instance to start the timer. Once you do this, there is a 2-minute delay before you will be able to open the exam. Please wait 2 minutes and then try again to open your exam.

If you tried to click on your exam instance before the 24-hour period began you may need to refresh your browser in the first.

If you are still unable to open the exam, please contact UCL Examinations via AskUCL.

Submitting your exam/assessment 

How do I submit my exam/assessment? 

You will be able to download your exam question paper when you open your exam instance in AssessmentUCL. Once you have downloaded your exam paper, you can complete the exam as instructed. You will need to convert your answer documents into one single PDF file and upload it to AssessmentUCL before submitting your exam. 

See the step-by-step guidance on How to complete an exam in AssessmentUCL

Please note, you will only be able to submit your exam once, so you must check you have uploaded the correct document. 

Do I have to submit a PDF file for my exam/assessment? 

For centrally managed exams your answer document must be in a PDF format to upload and submit your response. You may choose to write your responses in Microsoft Word, handwrite/draw them on paper or use any other format you wish. However you must convert your response into a PDF to be able to upload it to AssessmentUCL.

If you have been advised by your Department that they are an early adopter of the platform and they are using wider system functionality you may be required to provide your answers in a different format. You will have received an email about this and you should contact your department to confirm what format your responses should be provided in if you are unsure.

Do I have to provide a word count on my PDF? 

All students will need to complete the Cover Sheet which requires you to enter a word count. If the word count is not relevant or required byyou’re your exam please enter 0.  

Do I need to provide my candidate code or student number as part of my PDF upload? 

The candidate number is an anonymous unique number created for each student every year. It is not the same as your student number. 

You do not need to know your candidate number for centrally managed exams as it will automatically be added to your submission form. Your student number will also be added, although this will not be shown to your departmentto ensure anonymity.  

It is essential that you do not include any personal information on your submission to maintain anonymity. The AssessmentUCL platform will automatically know who you are upon login.

What happens if I lose internet connection whilst completing my exam on AssessmentUCL? 

You only need an internet connection when downloading and uploading your exam paper - not for the full duration of the exam.

If you are unable to download your exam questions, or upload your answers, and you have missed, or think you will miss, the submission deadline, you can submit an exam query using the Exam Query Form.  This will allow you to document the issue and provide any evidence you have.   

The information provided on the Exam Query Form will be sent to Extenuating Circumstances panels on your behalf for consideration for deferral to the next occasion. i.e. Late Summer Assessment. 

My file is more than 200MB – what can I do? 

You may need to reduce the file size of your upload document. Advice on how to do this can be found on the Microsoft Office website.

If you are unable to reduce your file size or are struggling to upload your document please submit a self-service query through Remedyforce and someone will contact you shortly.

I can't upload multiple documents to my exam or assessment – what should I do? 

For centrally managed exams it is only possible to upload one PDF document for each exam. If you have multiple documents you should combine these into one PDF document. If can’t combine them because because your combined file would be too large, you may need to compress the images within your submission document for it to meet the requirements of AssessmentUCL. Advice on how to do this can be found on the Microsoft Office website.

If you are unable to reduce your file size or are struggling to upload your document please submit a self-service query through Remedyforce and someone will contact you shortly.

I am unable to upload my file – what should I do? 

This could be for multiple reasons. You should:

  • Check the file size, is it bigger than 200MB. If so, please see the guide on reducing the size of images in Microsoft office.
  • Check your internet connection. A slow connection might slow down the submission process.

If you are still struggling to upload your file please submit a self-service query through remedy force and someone will contact you shortly.

Where is my similarity report? 

For your online exam, your similarity report will NOT be visible. Your tutors will however be able to view it and may refer to it when grading your work.

I haven't received an email from AssessmentUCl confirming my submission – what should I do? 

You won't automatically receive an email confirming your submission, but you can request an email confirmation from the submission page.

If you have already requested an email confirming your submission but have not received it, then please try the following:

  1. Check the spam/junk mail of your UCL student account
  2. Request another on the submission page
  3. Take a screenshot of submission page for your own records
How do I add handwritten notes/diagrams/equations? 

You can use handwritten notes and diagrams but you will need to create a PDF of these. You can use a tool called Office Lens. See the student guide to using Office Lens

If you still need further assistance please submit a self-service query through remedy force and someone will contact you shortly.

When transferring images from Office Lens to OneDrive I get a 'Waiting for transfer' message – what should I do? 

If the "Waiting for transfer" message does not disappear, and your images do not appear on OneDrive, try using an alternative method to transfer the images. For example, save the images to your phone's Gallery and then use a cable or email them to yourself to transfer the images over to your computer.

If you still need further assistance please submit a Self-service query through Remedyforce and someone will contact you shortly.

When I try to submit my PDF, I get an error message stating 'dynamic annotations are not supported'. What should I do?

A dynamic PDF document (or a PDF with dynamic annotations) is one that allows you to interact with the file in some way, such as filling out a form or watching a video. Dynamic PDF documents are not supported in AssessmentUCL. If you try to upload a dynamic PDF document to AssessmentUCL you will receive an error message.

To resolve the issue please follow the guidance on dynamic PDF document submissions.

By following those instructions, you will remove the interactive element of the PDF, known as 'flattening the PDF', and you should be able to upload and submit the document. If you simply save the PDF with your responses without following the instructions, it will remain interactive and this will prevent you uploading your document. Exporting or printing to PDF normally flattens the document, and is usually the easiest way to do this.

Please ensure you allow sufficient time to create your PDF response, upload and hand-in. If you have any issues please follow the advice at Support during your online exam.

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COVID mitigations 2020-21 FAQS

Why is UCL’s ‘Covid mitigation’ package for 2020-21 different from the ‘no detriment’ package the previous academic year?

In spring 2020 we made an emergency response to the pandemic’s escalation and the sudden lockdown which none of us had ever experienced before.   All assessments were reviewed and put online, but with our libraries closed suddenly, it was difficult to know the impact that would have on preparing for assessments, nor indeed how students would adapt to taking assessments remotely.  The impact of the pandemic this year is very serious, but different and we have sought to take that changing impact into account.

Over the summer, we made adjustments to your teaching and assessments to enable remote studying, recognising that you are working in unusual and sometimes less than ideal circumstances and that you have not had the usual access to facilities such as the library and specialist facilities. You are experiencing the impacts of the pandemic in many different ways, and that is why we have put in place targeted support that recognises your individual situation. Staff will be marking your work understanding and taking into account the challenges that you have faced.

In 2019-20, despite the pandemic, UCL students actually achieved slightly better module marks than previously. In other words, the emergency adjustments we made to assessments provided the right level of mitigation. The additional blanket changes that we made to classification algorithms (discounting 60 credits) resulted in an over-correction.  The very significant increases in Firsts and Distinctions awarded last year was considerably above UCL’s normal classification rates.  To avoid a similar over-correction this year which would not be fair to previous or future student cohorts, and to ensure that academic standards are upheld, the measures we have put in place are targeted towards individual circumstances rather than blanket interventions.

How does this compare with other Russell Group universities?

In our preparation for 2020-21 and the adjustments we have made to your teaching and assessment, we have liaised with other Russell Group universities to ensure that we maintain high academic standards, fairness for our students and equity across the sector.  Other universities have adopted comparable measures, in line with the joint statement released by the Russell Group on 7 January.

How do the COVID mitigation measures benefit me as a non-finalist?

The full package of support measures is designed to support all UCL students. For non-finalists this includes the extended self-certification policy and extra time in exams.

The changes to condonement are specifically designed for non-finalists and make it easier for you to progress to the next year of study.

At the moment, the borderline classification changes only apply to finalists graduating this year because those students will not be completing assessments next year, when the situation will hopefully be closer to normal. If, against our best hopes, the pandemic persists and continues to severely impact you next year, UCL will review this policy in light of the circumstances at the time, and again put in place a tailored support package.

We recommend that you read the regulations for your programme, which you should be able to find in your student handbook or on Moodle. On many UCL programmes, the normal progression and classification rules allow for a small amount of under-performance eg. if you are on Honours Degree Classification Scheme A, we will automatically discount your lowest 30 credits in each of years 1 and 2. Many programmes also have ‘condonement’ rules, which allow you to progress through your programme and achieve a good classification even if you don’t do well in a small number of credits.

Additionally, if you were studying at UCL in 2019-20, you will still benefit from the changes to classification that apply to 2019-20 assessments eg. if you took a first year capstone project this will be discounted from your classification, or if you were in Year 2 of a 3-year Bachelors, we will only use the best 50% of your Year 2 credits in the classification. This works differently on different programmes and these examples might not apply to you, so it is worth having a look at your department’s information on this. Full details for each programme will be published on Portico later this term.

Which ‘no detriment’ classification applies when? 

As the 2019/20 assessment period was delayed as a result of Covid, with reassessments for finalists taking place in January 2021, there is an overlap between the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic sessions. The Which ‘no detriment’ classification applies when? page explains how to understand which no-detriment rules apply in different scenarios.

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Extenuating Circumstances FAQs

What does spreading assessments mean?

This is an option available through the Extenuating Circumstances process. It can be used for any type of assessment but is most useful for students who are taking written exams.

Spreading assessments is intended to help where you have problems affecting your studies over a longer period (for example because you are a carer, or home-schooling children, or a critical worker) and enables you to manage your workload by deferring some of your assessments to the next assessment period eg. you could take some exams in the Main Summer exam period in April/ May 2021, and some exams in the Late Summer exam period in August/ September 2021.

Spreading your assessments could affect your ability to graduate or progress to the next year on time, so please think carefully before applying for this option. For more information, please refer to the Enhanced EC Procedure.

I think I might have Covid-19 - do I need to apply for Extenuating Circumstances?

If you think that you have symptoms of Covid-19, visit our About the virus and taking precautions page for further information, guidance and support.

If illness affects your ability to complete assessments, you should complete an Extenuating Circumstances form. Your Faculty or Department will give you details of how to do this.

I need to self-isolate - do I need to apply for Extenuating Circumstances?

We know that self-isolation/quarantine is not a carefree ‘holiday’. While many students will be largely unaffected and able to continue their studies as normal, some may find this distressing or disruptive. 
If you are required to self-isolate, we will not automatically assume that you need an extension or deferral. However, you can decide to apply for extra support via the Extenuating Circumstances process if self-isolation is having a significant impact on your ability to study or complete assessments.

Can I only self-certify for Covid-19?

No, you can self-certify for any valid Extenuating Circumstance, not just those related to Covid-19. You will need to explain on your form why you are asking for mitigation.

Normally UCL expects all EC claims to meet UCL’s Grounds for Extenuating Circumstances. During the pandemic, ongoing parenting/ caring responsibilities, home-schooling and employment as a critical worker are also being considered valid grounds for spreading assessments between examination periods.

How long can I self-certify for? 

For extensions, deferrals and late submissions, you can self-certify for up to 14 calendar days at a time. If you need longer, you will need to submit evidence. 

If you want to spread your assessments between examination periods you can submit a single self-certified EC form to cover all of your assessments – the 14-day limit does not apply.

Can I self-certify more than once? 

Yes, you can self-certify on up to five separate occasions during the 2020-21 academic session. If your programme includes teaching after Term 3 (e.g. Taught Postgraduate Masters students) you can also self-certify on a sixth separate occasion.

Normally these periods should be two weeks apart, although UCL will consider exceptional circumstances, for example if you are required to self-isolate for two 14-day periods close together. If you need help on more than two occasions, you will need to submit evidence.

Do I need to submit separate EC forms for different assessments?

No, you only have to submit one form for each 14 day period. Each self-certified claim will cover any assessments – coursework and/ or exams – falling within that period.

Do I have to self-certify if my department has changed or delayed my assessment? 

No, if your department has advised your whole class that an assessment will take a different form (e.g. online exam), will take place at a different date, or that all students will have an extended deadline, you do not need to submit an EC claim. 

I work for the NHS or other frontline services. What should I do? 

The definition of Extenuating Circumstances has been expanded to include ongoing employment as a critical worker. If, for example, you work for the NHS or police, or are involved in critical research, you might be worried about missing classes or exams, or not being able to finish coursework or your dissertation. You can access a wide range of help through the EC process. Critical workers might find the ability to spread their assessments across multiple examination periods particularly helpful in trying to manage their studies.

You can self-certify for 14-day periods and spreading assessments between exam periods or, if you need longer, your Faculty may be able to consider alternative evidence such as a letter from your Programme Leader confirming your frontline role. Your department will be as flexible as possible deferring assessments or allowing you to interrupt your studies

Find out more in the Enhanced Extenuating Circumstances Procedure.

I am a parent or carer, is there any support available for me?

We know that Covid has been particularly difficult for parents and carers – for example you might be juggling your studies with home schooling or looking after someone who is shielding. During the pandemic, ongoing caring and parenting responsibilities are being considered as valid grounds for Extenuating Circumstances. 

Through this process you can access a wide range of help. Carers and parents might find the ability to spread their assessments across multiple examination periods particularly helpful in trying to manage their studies

Find out more in the Enhanced Extenuating Circumstances Procedure.

What happens if I have technical issues when submitting coursework?

Technical issues are not normally considered to be valid grounds for Extenuating Circumstances when it comes to coursework. Planning, time-management and meeting deadlines are part of the personal and professional skills expected of all graduates. Learning to manage your time effectively and allowing time for minor difficulties will help to prepare you for future jobs and further study. You should plan for the fact that it may take some time to upload your work – don’t assume that your wifi and laptop will work perfectly 5 minutes before the deadline.  

UCL does however know that sometimes you might experience severe technical problems which you could not reasonably plan for in advance. If you do experience exceptionally bad technical issues which have a severe impact on your assessment, EC Panels are able to use their discretion to consider your claim (but approval is not guaranteed). You will need to provide evidence (e.g. screenshots, photos, emails from providers etc.) to support your claim – you cannot self-certify.

Further guidance is available from: Technical Issues and Extenuating Circumstances.

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