Digital exams pilot

Victoria University of Wellington is piloting digital exams in the Faculty of Law and at Victoria Business School.

The first digital exam pilot was completed successfully in Trimester 1 2019, with a high number of students adopting digital exams. The second pilot starts in Trimester 2 2019. Students in the following courses will take their end-of-trimester exams digitally:

  • LAWS312 Equity
  • LAWS320 Advanced Public Law
  • LAWS340 International Law
  • LAWS394 The Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand Law
  • GBUS541 Global Strategy
  • IBUS305 Dynamic Strategy and Structure in International Business
  • PUBL304 Cabinet Government
  • TOUR240 Principles in Tourism Management
  • TOUR250 Managing Visitor Impacts

Students involved in the pilot will type, rather than handwrite, their exam scripts. Other than this, the nature of the exam will not change, and all existing assessment rules and processes will apply. Students needing additional support will be able to access this through Student Learning and Disability Services as usual.

If you are enrolled in one of these courses, you will be emailed with detailed information about how it will run. Students in the pilot will have the opportunity to practise and familiarise themselves with the software throughout the trimester, before exams begin.

Digital exam guide for students

Download our guide to digital exams for answers to questions raised by other students, covering technical requirements and support, tips on functionality, and preparation and exam day information.

Frequently asked questions

The following answers frequently asked questions about the digital exam pilot. For more information, please download our guide to digital exams. If you have questions, the project team can be contacted at digital-exams@vuw.ac.nz

How did the first digital exam pilot go?

The Trimester 1 pilot went really well. There were no network or internet issues, and the exam software proved easy to use and reliable for the 500 plus students using it during the exam period. Two percent of students opted to do the exam by paper, rather than digitally. Every student who took their exam digitally was able to submit their exam online.

How will I know if I'm digital-exam ready?

You will be taken through a familiarisation process, where you will determine if your laptop meets the technical specifications, trial the exam software by face-to-face and/or online demos, and take part in a mock exam. This is to make sure you are familiar enough with the software to make a decision on whether to do the exam digitally or by paper.

We encourage you to talk to students who have taken a course with a digital exam or to contact the project team at digital-exams@vuw.ac.nz if you have any questions.

We will also be completing a student evaluation of the digital exam pilot, and when complete, we’ll post the results here.

Don’t forget, the usual University processes apply and you can withdraw from or change your courses during the course add/drop period (remember to check deadlines for doing so).

Can I opt to do the exam by paper?

Yes, you will be given the opportunity to choose to do your exam digitally or by paper after your mock exam.

Why is the university trialling digital exams?

Digital exams are likely to have significant benefits for students. Students are experienced in typing essays, assignments, and other coursework, and this is an extension of that. Typing also means that the content is more legible to those marking the exam. In addition, typing rather than handwriting is common practice in the workplace.

Digital exams are likely to reduce the administrative tasks associated with assessment, and in the long term we expect students will benefit from more efficient processes around online marking.

It’s also important that we keep pace with other universities and meet the current and future expectations of staff and students. Digital exams are being trialled by the Universities of Auckland, Otago, and Waikato, and many overseas universities have been successfully running digital exams for a number of years. Digital exams have become standard practice in many law schools and business schools in the United States.

Finally, the reduction in paper use aligns with our sustainability goals.

What device will students use for digital exams?

Students will be able to use their own laptop. Tablets, Chromebooks, smartphones and other devices are not supported.

Students who do not own a laptop, or have concerns about their laptop working optimally or not meeting the technical specifications, can take the exam in a computer lab, using a desktop computer and monitor. The exam software has already been downloaded onto each computer.

What software will the University be using?

The software we are using is called Inspera Assessment, which is used by universities around the world. Examples include the University of Oslo, where it was rolled out following a 2011 student-led campaign for digital exams, and is now used by over 50,000 students; more recently, it was selected by the University of Oxford who ran a successful digital exam pilot in 2018.

Where can I get technical support for my laptop?

You will be sent a technical checklist survey to help you check that your laptop meets the technical specifications and is able to run the exam software.

Once you have completed the survey, you can take your laptop to a laptop clinic where our IT specialists can check your laptop, ensuring it meets specifications and that the software is running smoothly. For information on the days and times the laptop clinics run, download our laptop clinic location guide.

Hardware and software specifications

  • The following operating systems are supported: Windows 7, 8.1/8.2, and 10; macOS 10.12 and newer.
  • An up-to-date internet web browser: Microsoft Edge; Mozilla Firefox; Google Chrome; Apple Safari (for macOS X).

You can also download our guide to checking your operating system and guide to checking your web browser.

Are there any changes to exams?

The only change to exams is that they are digital. All existing assessment rules and processes apply to digital exams. In the examination you will type rather than write your answers and submit your answers digitally.

The content, question formats, and the marking guide for the exam will be the same as they would be with paper exams.

Will I have the opportunity to practise?

Yes, students in the pilot are able to try out the software and practise using it before the exam (you will be advised when you can do this). The project team is supporting students closely throughout the pilot to ensure they’re comfortable with the software and the digital exam process.

What courses have already undertaken a digital exam?

Students who completed the following Faculty of Law and Victoria Business School courses (at 200 level or above) in Trimester 1 2019 took their end-of-trimester exams digitally:

  • LAWS330 Jurisprudence
  • LAWS370 Family Law
  • LAWS380 Evidence
  • MMBA502 Business Law
  • INFO388 Enterprise Security
  • PUBL211 Introduction to Public Management
  • IBUS308 Contemporary Issues in International Business

I have further questions. How do I find out more?

All students who are enrolled in one of these courses will be communicated to directly in class and by email, and information will be posted on Blackboard. We will invite you to demos during the trimester where you will have the opportunity to 'get digital-exam ready', trial the exam software, and have your questions answered.

You can also email the project team at digital-exams@vuw.ac.nz, or talk to your student representatives from the Law and Commerce students’ associations, who we have been working with throughout the pilot.