I write my exams surrounded by dirty dishes
William van Wijk is a Master’s student of Data Science and Society. In the past few months, he made his exams online, without proctoring. “I do my tests in the same place where I study, eat, sleep, and relax.”
Winter, 2020-2021 | “The exams have been changed so that proctoring was no longer necessary,” says William van Wijk. “For instance, we got less time, there were trick questions, or it was an open book exam that was so hard that it was impossible to pass if you had not studied for it. My program is rather technical, with a lot of programming and insight and overview questions. That was reflected in the exams. In one test, you had to describe a case. That went rather well for me.”
All in all it was not so bad. Nor do I think that the quality of the exams has been negatively impacted.
“The tricky bit was that you had no idea what to expect, especially during the first round last May. Normally you get to do mock tests and answer sample questions. This time, we had no clue what the test was going to be like. What is more, for a long time, neither did the instructors. That you had less of a grip made me feel insecure. I prepared in the same way, because I had no expectations. All in all it was not so bad. Nor do I think that the quality of the exams has been negatively impacted.”
It was tricky that you had no idea what to expect.
Walk around the house
Another issue was the use of the internet. Van Wijk: “When my two housemates and I had exams at the same time, we used a lot of bandwidth. That makes you a bit anxious, because you do need to have a good connection. One advantage of writing tests online is that you can go to the toilet, walk around the house to recharge, or grab a snack or a drink. And at the same time, that’s the downside: you study, sleep, eat, relax, and write exams, all in the same place. I am working at my desk surrounded by dirty dishes. It is difficult to take yourself and your studies seriously in these times. Sometimes it feels more like taking an online course.”
You study, sleep, eat, relax, and write exams, all in the same place.
“I miss the academic environment,” he continues. “I miss the pressure of my peers to work in the library for one more hour, or the social interaction when you stay and talk for a bit after an exam. You don’t run into other people anymore because everyone is staying at home. For that reason, I would prefer to do exams on campus again. As regards the testing process, I have no tips for Tilburg University. I think they are doing a good job, given the possibilities. Communication could be better, though. I would welcome a notification when new information is posted on the website that is relevant to me. But it may be hard to realize. As far as communication is concerned, it is hard to satisfy everyone.”
It is difficult to take yourself and your studies seriously in these times. Sometimes it feels more like taking an online course.