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About this page

This page provides information about Online Exams, and guides for preparing your Online Exams work and submitting to Blackboard.

Further help can be found on the Essentials Online Exams FAQ page.

Online exams are open-book exams and time limited.

The majority of exams will be open on Blackboard for 8 hours from 09:00 UK time to 17:00 UK time the same day.

For some specific exams there may be a time restriction in place, which means once you have started your paper online (within the 8-hour window), it must be submitted within a specified time.  Your Module Convenor will let you know if this applies to any of your exams, or if there are any specific instructions (e.g. set start times, assessment types/choices).

  • Most Online Exams require submission of written work via Turnitin.
  • Some exams will require you to submit to a Blackboard or Gradescope assignment, or completion of a Blackboard Test.
  • The exam papers, submission points / Test will be available in a folder called "Exam" (or something similar) which will only become visible to you on the day of the exam, from 9:00am UK time.
  • For written work you need to download the paper and any accompanying documents from Blackboard and your answers can be typed in a Microsoft Word document as you would for coursework (unless you have been given specific instructions from your School).
  • Please refer to your exam timetable for the dates of your Online Exams. In most cases, the online exam will be available for 8 hours and your answer(s) must be submitted before 5:00pm UK time the same day, unless you have been given a different deadline from your School.

Important: Please be aware, late penalties do not apply to online exams, late submissions are not allowed and if you are late, you will receive a mark of zero.

There are four main submission types (online exam types):

    • Gradescope (for exams normally with a time limit which can be handwritten, typed or a mixture of both, mostly in Maths and Sciences) Gradescope Icon

Which type of submission point will be setup for my exam? If you are not sure or have not been informed yet, please contact your Module Convenor or student support centre (via ask a question in RISIS) for information and guidance prior to your exam date, so you can practice submitting to the relevant type of assessment, and test your computer for any technical issues.

For any module where you have an online exam, go to the Blackboard course for that module, you will find "Online Exams 2024" link on the course menu.

If you have difficulty accessing the "Online Exams" area, please log a support call as soon as possible.

You will find all the necessary information and guidance in the "Online Exams" area. Please read through all the instructions carefully before you start your exam.

screenshot online exams 2024

Be prepared!

    • Make sure you can log in to Blackboard.
    • Check your device and browser settings. Use the Blackboard Browser checker to check your browser’s compatibility with Blackboard. Make sure that ad-blockers and pop-up blockers aren't causing any issues. Update your browser to latest version.
    • Download Microsoft Office 365 to your computer (Window or Mac) using University of Reading Office 365 account or prepare yourself to use the web version of Office 365.
    • If you use any assistive technologies, please access the online exam practice area when available and allow time to test this works.
    • Use your Online Exams Practice course to get familiar with the tools (mode of submissions e.g. Turnitin, Blackboard Assignments, Blackboard Tests or Gradescope).

Online Exam Practice courses have been set up in Blackboard Learn for each School. Each practice course is intended to give you the opportunity to test downloading and uploading documents and understand what instructions you will see on exam papers, as well as to identify and resolve any technical issues ahead of the exam period.

All types of submission points (Turnitin, Blackboard Assignments, Blackboard Tests or Gradescope) are available, and this will allow you to test the different exam types your School will have set. The practice areas will be open throughout the exams period and you can access it as many times as you like.

If you use any assistive technologies, please access the online exam practice area when available and allow time to test this works.

How do I access the practice course?

You can access the practice course by following these instructions:

  • Log in to Blackboard Learn as usual.
  • Your Online Exam Practice course will be listed on the 'Courses' tab of the main Blackboard menu.

General guidance

    • You are advised only to work on your answers for the duration of the time stated on the front page of the online exam paper. You are not expected to work for 8 hours on your answer.
    • Please read your exam paper thoroughly before you start to ensure that you understand what you need to do.
    • You are responsible for organising your time and should aim to submit your answer(s) as early as possible to ensure your work is submitted prior to the deadline specified for your Online Exam.
    • You are responsible for the content of the work you upload and for the academic integrity of your answer(s).
    • Once you have submitted your work, please check that it has uploaded successfully, and that you submitted the correct file.
    • Submit in plenty of time before the deadline - late submissions will receive a mark of zero.
    • Don't leave it till the last minute to submit.
    • Save your work regularly as you are working on it. If possible take a regular backup.

How to complete your exam papers

    • Use Microsoft Word for exams where you need to type your answers and submit a document. Your University Office 365 account gives all students access to Office, whether you are a Windows or a Mac user.
    • Do not exceed the specified word limits where they are stated.
    • You should use 12pt font size, Arial and 1.5 line spacing for word processed submissions.
    • Please write your candidate number, module code and question answer on the top of each piece of work that you submit.
    • Follow any instructions provided by your School concerning file types and file names.
    • Complete and upload your answer(s) to the submission point(s) in Blackboard, Turnitin.

Your exam papers - technical tips

    • If you use other word-processing software, you should save your answer paper as a Word or PDF file - but please use Microsoft Word if at all possible: download Office 365 well in advance to avoid file type issues.
    • Apple Pages is not a supported file type for submission.
    • File names should not contain punctuation or non-standard characters. For example, full stops, colons and brackets.
    • If you have used advanced text formatting or complex tables in your document you should save your file as a PDF, to ensure the formatting stays the same. If possible, avoid using advanced text formatting.
    • You should check what you have submitted. If you need further help with ensuring that your file has been uploaded successfully see Online Exams: checking that your submission was successful.
    • Please also check specific submission details and requirements for Turnitin, Blackboard Assignments, Tests and Gradescope in the accordion menus below.

Problems Submitting your work?

If you have problems submitting your answer(s) please email your work as a Word file (or the format which your school has instructed you to use) to before the submission deadline or as soon as possible. Please attach the file rather than the link to your document (Note that links to documents will NOT be marked).

See useful links below for guidance

When you submit to a Turnitin assignment, you will NOT be emailed a receipt, but should download your receipt immediately after submission.

  • For Turnitin Submission points, please ensure your file size does not exceed 100 MB.
  • Turnitin only accepts 1 file per submission. For Turnitin submissions, please ensure all your work is in one file.
  • Don't forget to click "Submit" button. Please note that the final stage of a Turnitin submission requires you to confirm your submission by clicking "Submit" button.

See guidance about

Exams consisting of Multiple Choice and similar questions will be delivered via a Blackboard Test.

Gradescope is used for specific online exams:

  • The submission of handwritten work, typed or a mixture of both in Maths, Sciences and Languages,
  • And time-limited exams.

Your lecturer will inform you if it is being used for your exam.

Most exams using Gradescope are time-limited, once the exam is started you must submit your work within the specified time frame.

Please see our Gradescope help page.

How do I take images of handwritten equations and diagrams and insert them into a document?

How do I submit a totally handwritten exam for online submission?

How do I reduce the file size of my document?

If required, you can reduce the file size of a document by compressing the size of images in it, without losing the quality of the images. Doing this makes it easier and quicker to upload and submit.

The following types of exam DO send out email receipts

The following types of exam DO NOT send an email receipt

You are responsible for ensuring that you have uploaded the right document to the correct exam submission point, and for ensuring that your work has been uploaded successfully by the stated deadline for that exam.

How you check what you have submitted will depend on the assessment tool used. For details see Checking that your submission was successful.

Online Exam Practice areas will be set up in Blackboard Learn for each School.  These practice areas are intended to give you the chance to test downloading and uploading documents in advance of your exams.

Technical support (on Exam Day):

On your Exam day, you can contact us with technical queries via  ‘Online Exam IT Support’ form on the portal to ensure a speedy response to your query. The form is available on your DTS (Digital Technology Service) Self Service Portal.

  • Please note that ‘live’ support is available from 09:00 – 17:00pm UK time Monday to Friday.
  • For urgent queries (for example, at the submission deadline), you can call the ‘Online Exam Helpline’ on +44 (0) 118 378 7049 (for HBS students, call +44 (0) 118 378 4007) from 09:00 – 17:00 UK time Monday to Friday.
  • Please be aware that our telephone lines are very busy at this time of year so we may be unable to answer immediately.

Problems Submitting Your Work?

If you have problems submitting your answer(s) please email your work as a Word file (or the format which your school has instructed you to use) to immediately. Please attach the file rather than the link to your document (Note that links to documents will NOT be marked)