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Exam proctoring: a law student’s experience

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As law schools shift exams online in the wake of the coronavirus, one aspiring lawyer reveals her first encounter was ‘mostly positive’

When lockdown measures were introduced, I assumed everything would be back to normal by the exam period. Unfortunately, this was clearly positive thinking and I have now undertaken two exams remotely in the last month as part of my Legal Practice Course (LPC).

Although the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) allowed for my elective of private acquisitions to be sat under a 24-hour period without supervision, my solicitors accounts exam was completed using a special proctoring software, which meant that I couldn’t use any of my computer’s normal functions and had to complete the exam under normal (as normal as possible) exam conditions.

We were told we would be using this online proctoring system at the end of March. The exam took place in the second week of June, so I think this was more than enough time to get used to the idea. My university kept us in the loop with updates on the situation and discussions they were having with the regulator regarding remote exams.

We were given guidance and also a mock exam so that we could test the software before the real thing. To complete the exam it was necessary to have a computer, reliable internet connection, microphone and webcam. I thankfully had all of these but I’m sure less fortunate students may have struggled. I’d hope the university would have equipped students with the necessary equipment where needed.

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We were told that the software would record the duration of the examination and after the exam the recordings would be reviewed for any academic integrity issues.

My experience was mostly positive, though a bit strange and daunting as I had never sat an exam in that way before. The main problem I encountered was that as I was writing out my calculations on paper, I naturally bent my head down. This meant that I left the ‘webcam zone’ and this flagged on the system. In order to carry on with the exam I had to re-align myself with the ‘webcam zone’, which was obviously intended to prevent students looking at prohibited materials during the exam but proved to be quite awkward to navigate.

I kept as upright as possible for the rest of the exam but it still kept flagging on the system, though by the end I managed to work out an acceptable posture — not a skill I’ve ever had to champion for an exam before.

My university’s approach has been transparent and proactive. I felt prepared to combat the supervised online exam despite it being alien to all of us. Now that I have sat one exam in this format, I feel that if I had to sit another, it will be a much smoother and easier experience, though not one that I would volunteer for.

Jane Smith (pseudonym) is an LPC student.

12 Comments

Anon

Fair play to the law schools. Shifting assessments online in a matter of weeks is no mean feat.

(14)(2)

Anonymous

The law schools have been great, it is the moaning self-absorbed snowflakes that have been the problem.

(11)(19)

Anon

We’ve had to do most of our online electives for the LPC online. Which was unusual but I felt it took some of the “stress” out of sitting an exam when you go to an actual exam hall. We have our conduct exam next month and will be using a similar system of webcams etc, which we have yet to be told about but will be interesting to see how this will effect things going forward.

(5)(1)

Archibald Pomp O'City

“To complete the exam it was necessary to have a computer, reliable internet connection, microphone and webcam. I thankfully had all of these but I’m sure less fortunate students may have struggled.”

And when you go out, do you shovel into your pockets a camera, calculator, Rolodex, compass, map, newspaper and portable radio?

IT’S ALL IN ONE ITEM, YOU DIDLO. A LAPTOP!

(3)(7)

Purelylegal_

Some people aren’t privileged enough to have a laptop never mind one that has a working mic or camera or even have internet connection. So this comment was very unnecessary and rude without appreciating the wider ramifications of online exams – that many students couldn’t sit because of.

(17)(4)

Mr Meow

With respect, if you’re able to foot the extortionate fees, a working laptop is neither here nor there. I would expect a laptop may be covered under any loan, and providers normally provide “discounts” on purchase if you are in education.

The statement is true of wider society, but I don’t think it’s quite correct for the LPC.

(4)(5)

Anonymous

Bollocks, if you have paid that much for a course you have a £300 laptop.

(3)(0)

Archibald Pomp O'City

“that many students couldn’t sit because of.”

Do you normally end your sentences with a preposition? Lord have mercy.

(3)(0)

Archibald Pomp O'City

“Some people aren’t privileged enough to have a laptop never mind one that has a working mic or camera or even have internet connection.”

Well, if you’re sitting your law exams from Number 1, The Duvet, Trafalgar Square, then this might well be the case. In which case you have my genuine sympathy.

(1)(0)

L1

Was this actually written by a student? It Sounds very much like it has been written by a teacher due to the massive decline in numbers of people applying this year
#ad #sponsored

(9)(1)

Ii

Lpc students have been trying to contact legal cheek for weeks to tell them of what is actually happening at these institutions. Legal cheek have ignored all correspondence and now have printed this article. Feels like someone is scared of losing some funding by posting the truth

(9)(1)

Anonymous

I too took a online proctored Solicitors Accounts assessment. I was instructed to down load my ledgers to my desktop. Of course they could not be accessed once the system seized control of my computer. Also I waited over 3 hours to start my assessment as my password was rejected. Consequently I have to resit tomorrow. Lots of bugs in the proctoru system so my experience was not good.

(0)(0)

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