'Nobody was allowed to be in the room to help' Own photo's

Students on taking exams at home: 'Quite difficult to concentrate


The first exams in the corona era are done. For most students, that meant: plodding online in a crowded student house on the final test of block 3. Advantage: you could often keep your book at hand. Four students about their 'home tests'.

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Normally, students go to the university for their exams. But due to the coronavirus this has changed somewhat. Most exams still take place, but they are now offered online. Students can take their tests at home. For some, it feels great to crawl from their bed to their laptop, but others would have preferred the extra travel time to mentally prepare for the exam.

"I actually didn't like taking my exam at home," says Artificial Intelligence student Sinie van der Ben, who had an exam for her Information Science minor. "Normally, you would cycle to the university. That way you would have a feeling of 'now it's really going to begin’ and that makes it a little easier to get into an exam mode. Now, it was harder to concentrate on the exam."

 Desk of student Artificial Intelligence Sinie

Teun de Theije, a Physics student, also had trouble concentrating now that he wasn't taking his exam at the university. "It's crazy that you're taking your exam at home instead of in a room with all the other students." The atmosphere before an exam often helps to get into the right state of mind, says Teun. "Normally, everyone wishes each other good luck right before the exam starts. That gives you a little bit of support".

Desk of Physics student Teun

‘I missed the exam state of mind a little’

Could you call it cheating? By offering the test online, many study programmes consciously took the risk that students would pass on good answers or consult with each other via their telephone or PC. But according to the students we spoke to, there was little 'cheating'.

"Cheating went through my head for a while, and I talked to other fellow students about how we could do that through WhatsApp," says Teun. "But frankly, it was more like a funny idea. I didn't think about it during the exam either."

Anna Heijting, a Law student, is doing her minor in Business Informatics and says that before the start of her exam she had to sign a form stating what was allowed and what was not. "It was an open book exam, so you were free to look things up. But no one else was allowed in your room to help you during the exam".

Desk of Law student Anne

"You didn't really have a chance to consult during your exam," says Artificial Intelligence student Sinie van der Ben. "The questions were made in such a way that you were forced to look them up. That way they had excluded cheating."

Moreover, according to Sinie, the time pressure was quite heavy. "There really were a lot more questions than usual. I finished the exam just in time." Anna agrees with Sinie: "At a normal exam, I take some time to look at the questions, but here I had to start working right away.

‘We put up a schedule in my house’

A troublesome roommate making noise in the hallway at exactly the wrong time? Or someone walking into your room? It's a big fear during an important home exam. But everyone finds their own ways to deal with this. From a schedule to a sign at the door.

"We put up a schedule in my house with the times and days that everyone has exams. That way we could take that into account", says Pien Kuiper. "Everyone sticks to it and I didn't suffer at all from roommates during my exams ".

Desk of Governance student Pien

Teun de Theije went to his parents to take his exam. "I thought it would be a lot safer to take my exam at home. That way I was sure no one would bother me."

Sinie sent a text right before she started her exam, just to be sure: "Guys, I'm about to take an exam, would you please refrain from being on the internet network too much".

Pien also thought about a solution for bad internet and came up with another idea. "It’s going through your head either way. Imagine that the internet won't work, that's why I connected the network of my phone to my computer. That way I knew for sure that the internet would work and I could confidently take the exam".

‘Everything's mixed up now.’

There are online exams scheduled again for block 4. As far as the students are concerned, the online lectures and tests are finished after that.

"For now, I didn't mind. I can be late for my exams at times, so in that sense it was actually nice that I could take my exam at home and I didn't have to cycle anywhere", says Pien. Still, she wouldn't want to do all her exams at home from now on. "It's nice if you can keep your private life and your studies separated a little. That's a bit mixed up now."

"I feel a bit like everything's mixed up right now as well," Anna says. "Because of my law studies, I don't have a lot of contact hours anyway. So I really miss those hours that I can’t to the university."

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