How digital exams cured my blue hands

How digital exams cured my blue hands

Law and Arts student Nick Platje shares his experience of being involved in the University’s digital exam pilot in Trimester 1 this year.

Hands tapping on a laptop

Digital exams are helping me say goodbye to one of the most frustrating issues a leftie has to face. Blue hands.

As my hand drags across the page the wet ink clings to my hand and leaves smudges of blue across the palm. Accompanying the blue hand is a scrawl of smudged writing that I have never been sure if any examiner can actually read.

In Trimester 1 and 2 this year the Faculties of Law and Commerce are conducting several pilot digital exams. These exams allow you to bring your own device and complete the exam using software downloaded ahead of time.

After my digital exam experience, I can happily say that I never want to do a written exam again.

Personally, I felt a small degree of trepidation when I discovered that my course was part of the pilot. While conceding that this was the way of the future and soon every exam would be like this, could it not wait until I am gone? I would prefer exams stay exactly the same, the way I know, the way I am comfortable.

I know that many students will feel the same. I can however assure you that digital exams are the way to go.

First, it tackles the issue of messy handwriting. In my case, handwriting that one particularly descriptive educator once described as a ‘spider on acid’ (whatever that means) and ‘impressively opaque’. In addition to ensuring that our examiners can read what we are saying it also has the distinct advantage of allowing you to be able to read your own writing. Meaning that in the final moments of the exam you can easily review what you have written, correct a few spelling mistakes, remove words or even entire paragraphs.

Another advantage is that when mistakes are made there is no longer any need for a hastily drawn matrix of scribbles, stars and lines instructing the examiner to read the exam booklet upside down, back to front and cross-eyed. Instead a simple ctrl+c / ctrl+v can flip your entire essay on its head in a matter of seconds. A tool I found invaluable when I realised in the last two minutes that my entire essay was back to front.

Much of this, I feel, is preaching to the converted. Students today write every assignment on their computer and the vast majority use them as notetakers, despite the warnings of lecturers. Digital exams are just the same and exactly like what we already know. Digital exams are here and if I had my way, I would never do a written exam again.  

Nick Platje is a fourth-year law and arts student, and took LAWS370 Family Law in Trimester 1 2019—one of the seven courses which were part of the digital exam pilot.

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