M250 Exam Disaster

woman with head in hands
Photo by Mehrpouya H on Unsplash

In hindsight, it was something of a poetic tragedy that the M250 Object-oriented Java Programming exam succumbed to IT problems. Result: hundreds of angry forum posts. Plus, by my estimation, a similar number of calls and emails to Student Support and tutors. Many undoubtedly during the exam itself.

It turns out that the format of the real exam was the same as the specimen exam. A selection of multiple-choice questions and coding questions where you enter your code into a box.

Unexpectedly, there did appear to be a facility to check that your Java code compiled. Woe betides you if you did use it.

When I did, my screen went blank. Thoughts running through my head. Had my work been saved? How do I get back to the questions? I am not sure how much time I wasted trying to recover from this. Or checking that the system had saved everything I entered.

The problems did not stop there. When I pressed the submit button, an error message came up on screen. Before the option to submit, a list of the questions I had answered showed some as being incomplete. I knew I had entered code into the box. Going back and clicking on the check box icon sorted that out. Alas, I then encountered the same problems as before.

Afterwards, on the assessment screen, it appeared as though the system had actually saved my answers. At that stage, however, I was not taking anything for granted.

I later learnt that the the penalty period had been extended from 15 minutes to two hours. This is the time after the allocated three and a half hours, where you might lose some marks but not all. 

However, I fail to see how you could have known this at the time. Anyway, I just rushed to submit before the original three and a half hours were up. Did not want to waste any more time. Just glad to submit something.

A couple of days later, a worrying message appeared on the Student Home page. The Open University had not received my exam answers. However, it was too late to do anything about it.

Turns out, after contacting Student Support, that this message was yet another mistake. They later removed it.

I would expect, at the minimum, to know my answers have been received at the time I finished the exam. Not a few hours later, or several days in this case.

The Open University has now switched completely to remote exams. I still support them. Other remote exams, certain maths modules for example, I understand went without a hitch. I would expect a computing and IT module to get it right, however.

My first experience of exams with the Open University. Ah, well.

All that is now left to do is wait until 21st July when the module results come out. Just got to get 30% on the exam to pass. I really do not look forward to resitting it though.

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