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Tests, exams and assessment

FAQs covering tests, exams and assessments
Below is a list of frequently asked questions about the impact on tests, exams and assessment due to COVID-19.

Online delivery of assessments (including exams) will continue to be available for all students, in Australia and overseas for as long as Australian Government safety and travel advice requires.

This means some units of study may hold an online exam which will be timed and supervised, or the exam type may be open book or a take home.

We will aim to assist all enrolled students to complete their units despite changing circumstances. We will continue to keep you informed.

Online tests and exams

This refers to any test or exam that has moved online and will be held under exam-like conditions which are timed and supervised. 

For more information about taking online tests and exams please refer to the 'Taking online tests and exams' Canvas site. You can keep this site on your Canvas dashboard for easy reference. Just click ‘Join this Course’ on the homepage and follow the steps. 

Other Canvas quizzes as well as submitted assignments and take-home tests are not considered as online tests and exams and will be administered as normal.

 If you are unsure whether your unit has a supervised online test or exam this semester, please refer to your unit outline and Canvas site, or check with your unit of study coordinator.

You will be advised through Canvas and the unit outline about the specific details of your assessments, and as per standard practice your end of semester exam timetable will outline the format for your exams.

Find out more about exams including information on end of semester exam dates and timetables.

For more information about taking online tests and exams please refer to the 'Taking online tests and exams' Canvas site.

This site offers detailed instructions on how to prepare to take an online test or exam. It is important that you review the information on this site well in advance so that you are ready to take your test or exam.

We highly recommend you set up your ProctorU account and take a practice test as a priority.

When taking some tests or exams online, you will need to use your personal computer using online proctoring or supervision.  This proctoring will be carried out by ProctorU, a specialist online testing service. 

To ensure that test conditions are observed, your identity will be verified, your test environment will be checked, and you will be supervised while completing your test, using a combination of webcam, microphone, speakers and screen sharing.

You will be supervised for the whole duration of your test, and ProctorU will be available for help at all times. 

It is important that you have confidence that your privacy is safeguarded. Thorough legal, cyber-security, privacy and capability analysis was carried out by relevant University units before the University entered into an arrangement with ProctorU. 

ProctorU has been around since 2008 and are trusted by hundreds of universities and other organisations worldwide including CPA and the universities of Florida, Georgia SouthWestern, Mississippi and Iowa. This organisation works with many universities globally and is subject to multi-jurisdictional privacy and security regulations.

ProctorU will only require your basic student information (name, email address and phone number) and in most cases will not require access to your computer during a test. An online proctor will not be able to access your computer without your express permission.  More details about ProctorU’s privacy and security in relation to University of Sydney online tests can be found in our FAQS on Canvas, including what software needs to be installed and why, what actually happens during a proctored session, and what information ProctorU has access to.

The 'Taking online tests and exams' Canvas site will explain how to set up a ‘ProctorU’ (the service provider of the online supervised tests) account and organise a time to sit your test. When you set up your account, you will be asked to nominate the time zone you are currently in. 

Available times to sit your test will be displayed in your nominated time zone.

Disability Services helps students who have a disability to access reasonable adjustments for tests and exams. They can also help students who have a temporary condition or injury and require adjustments for their test or exam.

Find out about registering with Disability Services. Common test adjustments converted for online delivery are outlined here.

If you would like more information, please contact Disability Services on disability.services@sydney.edu.au, or your Faculty’s Disability Liaison Officers.

On-campus tests and exams

This advice is only relevant for students who are required to sit their exam on campus. They include students who are: 

  • unable to sit their assessment at home due to insufficient technology 
  • whose disability adjustments require them to be on campus.

You are required to register to sit your test/exam on campus at least 48 hours before the exam. After you register, you will receive an automated confirmation of on-campus registration.

To come to campus, you must be able to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within three days prior.

You must check in using the Service NSW app on arrival, and swipe in with your student card. The University’s COVID safety precautions must be observed at all times.

Students can leave home to attend University if they cannot learn from home. In-semester tests and exams will proceed on campus for students:

  • unable to sit their assessment at home due to insufficient technology 
  • whose disability adjustments require them to be on campus

If you’re unable to sit your exam at home, but you’re not comfortable coming to campus during lockdown, you can submit a special consideration application. You will need to select ‘misadventure’ as your reason and include in your application:

  • a student declaration form outlining why you are unable to sit your exam at home
  • and any additional supporting evidence, for example a screenshot of your failed practice test or low internet speed. 

If approved, you will be granted a replacement exam. If your circumstances have not changed by the time the replacement is scheduled, you should submit another application for Special Consideration. The outcome of this could be another replacement or an alternate assessment.

If you are attending tests or exams on campus, you must be able to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within three days prior.

You must check in using the Service NSW app on arrival, and swipe in with your student card. The University’s COVID safety precautions must be observed at all times.

If you are attending tests or exams on campus, you must wear a mask or provide proof of an exemption if applicable. In addition, you must maintain 1.5m physical distancing and practise good hygiene. 

You also must follow the instructions given to you by the exam supervisors and any signage on campus. Please note, you may be required to briefly remove your mask for identification purposes only.

If you are unable to comply you may be asked to leave and be unable to proceed with your test/exam.

If you are unable to accept the conditions of entry, please notify the Exams Office through this online form.

You are required to wear a mask during your exam, unless you have proof of a medical exemption. You can find out more information about exemptions on the NSW Health website.

If you have a medical exemption to not wear a mask, you will need to submit this document to the Exams Office at least 48 hours prior to your exams through an online form.

Please note that registered students who are unable to wear a mask will be seated in separate room from other students and required to complete their test/exam using the online proctoring service ProctorU.

On the day of your test/exam, you are required to:

  • Bring your student card, Australian driver’s licence, or passport
  • Bring any approved exam materials (please refer to the Canvas test/exam site for details) 
  • Bring your smartphone with you to login to the University computer via Multi-Factor Authentication. You will not be permitted to use your phone once you are logged in.
  • Show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within three days prior
  • If applicable, bring your medical certificate for your mask wearing exemption (if you have not already submitted your certificate through this online form).
  • Show your Service NSW QR code check-in confirmation

If you choose to sit your test/exam remotely after registering for a place on campus, please cancel your registration to free up space for other students. If you have registered via Eventbrite, you can cancel your ticket via the confirmation email you received. If you did not receive an Eventbrite confirmation, please contact your faculty or school directly.


Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure, which affect your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration.

The University wishes to avoid placing an additional burden on the health care system during the COVID-19 crisis. As an alternative to a medical certificate or other medical documents, you can submit a student declaration, with any available supporting evidence, that describes the misadventure, illness or injury that you suffered and for how long. The conditions for making student declarations are outlined in the template.

Most registered medical/health practices are offering medical certificates (by email) for an online or phone consultation. If you are consulting a medical practitioner regarding your symptoms, you should request a medical certificate that also identifies an affected period. An affected period is the timeframe during which your condition has seriously impacted on your ability to complete an assessment task at the normal level of competence. 

You may use a medical certificate to support your application for special consideration if you feel that your condition has adversely impacted on your ability to complete an assessment task. If it is not practicable for you to obtain a medical certificate or other medical documentation, you need to provide a student declaration with a statement describing how you have been impacted by your condition and for how long.  The student declaration needs to be submitted as part of your special consideration application.

If you experience symptoms of COVID-19, which include a fever, a cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, please follow the health advice and steps to take on the NSW Health website.

Your eligibility for special consideration depends on whether your circumstances were out of your control, and whether they have seriously impacted on your ability to complete an assessment task at the normal level of competence. All applications will be assessed on a case by case basis. Where possible, you should submit supporting evidence that confirms the extent and duration of the impact of your circumstances on your ability to complete assessment requirements.

Due to COVID-19, if it is not possible for you to obtain medical or supporting documents, you need to provide a student declaration with a statement describing how you have been impacted by your circumstances and for how long. The student declaration needs to be submitted as part of your special consideration application.

If you are in self-isolation but are well and have not been impacted by other circumstances outside your control, you are expected to continue with your studies remotely and complete all assessments as normal.

If you start to feel unwell during your self-isolation period, follow the health advice and steps to take on our website. You should phone (do not visit) a local general practitioner (GP) or the closest hospital emergency department for instructions.

If you are consulting a medical practitioner regarding your symptoms, you should request a medical certificate that also identifies an affected period. An affected period is the timeframe during which your condition has seriously impacted on your ability to complete an assessment task at the normal level of competence.

If it is not practicable for you to obtain a medical certificate or other medical documentation, you need to provide a student declaration with a statement describing how you have been impacted by your condition and for how long.  The student declaration needs to be submitted as part of your special consideration application.

If you are a carer you can submit relevant supporting documents such as communications from your child’s school, or medical documents confirming that the person you care for has a pre-existing condition and that you are their carer.  If possible, you should seek their consent before providing their medical documents to the University.

If it is not possible for you to obtain supporting documents, you need to provide a student declaration with a statement describing how you have been impacted by your carer’s responsibilities, and for how long. The student declaration needs to be submitted as part of your special consideration application.

If you have been required to work additional hours due to COVID-19, and you require special consideration for your assessment tasks, you should obtain a statement from your employer describing the period of time that your work commitments have impacted on your studies.

If you are unable to obtain this document due to an unexpected increase in workload in your work place, you need to provide a student declaration with a statement describing how your work commitments have impacted on your ability to meet your assessment requirements. Please outline the dates for the affected period so that we may provide the appropriate consideration.

Requirements for in-person attendance have been relaxed during the COVID-19 pandemic. You will be expected to review weekly online lectures yourself and engage with online activities as scheduled. If your special consideration form does not allow for an application for attendance/participation as an assessment under the relevant unit of study, then an application for a missed lecture or tutorial may not be required. You should refer to your unit of study outline for any attendance requirements, including face-to-face contact.

If you have experienced significant technical issues that were beyond your control and have adversely impacted on your ability to meet an assessment requirement, you may submit an application for special consideration.

You should submit a student declaration with a statement describing the issue, along with any supporting evidence such as screenshots or emails, with an explanation of how the problem has impacted on your ability to meet your assessment requirements.


No-disadvantage assessment

The University is committed to ensuring no student is academically disadvantaged as a result of the health crisis. We have adopted a ‘no-disadvantage’ position on assessment that is transparent, fair and supports academic progression.

  • Student declaration: Students who have been impacted by COVID-19 will be able to submit a Student Declaration document. This document should only be submitted in the case that their studies have been impacted adversely by unique and specific circumstances. Students may be required to submit supporting evidence of this impact. A false statement would be grounds for misconduct and may have serious consequences.
  • Modified decision making: Decision making process by the Special Consideration unit have been modified to account for instances of types of misadventure to emerge as part of the on-going health crisis.  The additional categories to be added beyond illness, injury or misadventure as provided in current policy include:
  1. emergency professional duties, e.g. health care workers
  2. incompatible technology, bandwidth or home circumstances for assessment and examination purposes (lack of quiet space)
  3. substantial carer responsibilities
Find out more about special consideration.
  • UC grade: Where a unit of study follows on to another unit of study, a UC grade can be awarded for the first and the assessment can be finalised across both units on completion of the second.  This may be useful, for example, in language and music performance units. 
  • RI grade: In extenuating circumstances, where a student is close to completion of a unit, but cannot be given a fair assessment in every component, examiners could award an RI (Result Incomplete) grade, with follow-up assessment beyond the usual period for alternative assessment. 

Last updated: November 2021