The fault in question popped up at the start of the examination. After logging in, the students didn’t see any questions on their screens – while the timer ticked on. It took some 30 minutes to solve the problem. Originally, the students had been allotted 90 minutes to answer 40 multiple-choice questions and an open-ended question. “But a lot of time passed before we could actually start on the exam. This made us very anxious, and we had to rush through the questions,” explains first-year student Seha Guzel.
About an hour into the exam, the students received an email telling them they had been afforded an extra 30 minutes to make up for the lost time. And 45 minutes later, another half hour was tacked on. “But the thing is: when they added this extra time, I was already on question 30,” says Guzel. And he wasn’t able to go back to previously answered questions. “So unfortunately, adding extra time twice didn’t really make much of a difference.”
According to the students, the technical complications made the examination extra stressful and chaotic. “It makes it harder to concentrate, because all of a sudden you’re in a big rush. And at the same time you have to keep an eye on other matters – whether you have a message waiting in your inbox, for instance,” says Guzel.
The affected students have asked ESL for compensation. “Some of us want to resit the examination, for instance. Others are hoping for an extra point,” says Guzel. He’d like to have a point added to his mark too. “I think a resit would be tricky. As it is, I have two more exams plus a resit planned between now and the summer holidays.” He has submitted his request to the Examining Board. “The Board has promised to notify me as soon as they’ve found a solution.”
Erasmus School of Law is currently looking into what caused the fault. “It appears as if the disruption was caused by overloaded servers, in combination with the large number of students sitting this particular online examination,” says a spokesperson of the law faculty.
According to ESL, only a share of the participating students were affected. The extra time was intended to let them round off the exam in its entirety. However, 10 of the over 700 participating students were unable to complete the open-ended question.
“ESL deeply regrets that this fault occurred and has created issues for a share of our students,” says one of its spokespersons. The faculty is currently looking into a suitable solution for the affected students. “We’re waiting until the results of the investigation and the examination itself come in.”
According to ESL, most first-year students won’t be falling behind as a result of the mishap. The faculty emphasises that it is working to keep delays in students’ study tracks to a bare minimum. “For example, at the very start of the Covid crisis, we immediately switched to online assessments and education. Generally speaking, the process has run quite smoothly.”