Unseen essay

The ‘conventional’ exam paper. Students do not see the paper in advance; students must provide 2 or 3 short essay answers under exam conditions in a fixed period of time (normally 1.5 to 3 hours).

Pros: Familiar to almost all students. Gives students time to articulate a reasoned argument drawing on material from course and from independent study. Tests ‘all round’ ability – content, comprehension, recall, argument, precision, concision, relevance.

Cons: Not suitable for all students.  Exam conditions produce stress which may impair student performance. Limited number of answers means students may not be tested on all course knowledge or all ILOs. High risk associated with a poor or failed answer. Clarity and neatness of handwriting may affect result – a growing problem as students tend to type far more than they hand write.

Workload guide

Preparation time Low Student workload High Marking time High


Guide to time involved in preparation, marking, and student workload:  Low Low  Medium Medium  High High

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