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Short assessments, sample tests: Exams in UAE go online

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on June 9, 2020 | Last updated on June 9, 2020 at 06.35 am
coronavirus, covid-19, online exam, microsoft teams


Some schools will conduct assessments via Microsoft Teams, while others are yet to decide on their mode of conducting exams.

Schools in the country have rolled out innovative models to conduct exams amid an online learning environment. There is no fixed way to conduct the exams, with schools saying they are trying to understand which model works best for them.

40-minutes assessments

At GEMS Modern Academy, 40-minute summative assessments will be held through Microsoft Teams. "They are not proctored. It allows for a complete record of who turned in the assessment, teacher comments, grading and feedback. The marks get recorded in Gradebook, which can be exported in Excel," said Nargish Khambatta, the school's principal and vice-president, education, GEMS Education.

"Our students self-regulate for the scheduled assessments with parents invigilating at home. They join the calls with their class teachers to get the instructions ... and release of the assessment at 9am. With mics muted and speaker volume reduced, they work on the assessment for the next 40 minutes and then submit their answers."

If there are technical glitches, students are allowed to email the answers to their teachers within the allotted time.

She added that some schools opted for "continuous evaluation" of student learning with no examinations in June.

Multiple-choice questions

Springdales School Dubai is focusing on multiple-choice questions (MCQs) with a minimum of 40 questions.

Head HR & Administration at the school Zubair Ahmad said: "Other types of assessments pertaining to reading and writing are equally embedded in the curriculum based on which we also procure evidence for a student's learning milestones. Additionally, students have been given certain guidelines like keeping the camera on always during the exam, not taking any restroom breaks, keeping a bottle of water next to themselves and ensuring the Internet service is up and running."

Sample exams

At some schools, a sample exam was conducted with a select group of students to assess the examination method.

Principal of Amity School Dubai Sangita Chima said: "We are using Microsoft Teams Assignments to administer examinations for students of all grades. This has proven effective and convenient. Subjective questions require students to type out answers on a laptop or write down answers, scan and upload them on Assignments; while objective ones included questions with multiple-choice and verbal answers."

Exams are conducted from 1pm to 1.45pm, she said.

Real-life scenarios

Even though the UK announced that A Level and GCSE examinations would be cancelled, some students sat for end of year assessments.

Mark Ford, Principal, The English College, Dubai, said: "The school felt it was important that students, particularly Year 13 students, were given the opportunity to sit for end of year assessments, enabling them to understand their levels of attainment at the end of their courses and to identify any gaps in their learning. Students sat for online examinations prepared by their teachers, with strict start and finish times and cameras on, emulating real-life exam conditions as closely as possible."

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