Assessment Design: types of assessment task

Take-home Exam

What is it?

A take-home examination is a time-constrained assessment task, presented to students at some time in advance of the assessment and completed at home. They are sometimes used to reduce student anxiety about exams and to eliminate disadvantage for some students.

The examination paper is handed out and then the completed scripts are returned within a specified period of time. This could be anything from a day to two weeks.

The traditional format of the examination could be changed to release questions in the form of short tasks (to test a range of knowledge, as an exam would), to be completed over short fixed periods, rather than releasing all of the questions at once for a single submission. (eg one question every two days, with submission followed by release of the next question).

Recommended levels:

3– 7

Suitable for groups?


Things to think about

Students will of course be able to discuss the question in advance of the exam, and this may lead to some similarity of answers, just as you might find for a coursework assessment. You could have a pool of questions which are allocated randomly to different students, if you want to reduce this possibility.

Students who need help with typing or transcribing their work will need to ensure that they have appropriate support available during the time period set for the exam, or you could consider accepting submissions from them in a different format (eg audio).

Assignment length

The usual rule of thumb for an unseen exam question is that students should be able to sit and write the answer in half the time available for the question (the other half of the time being for thinking and planning). In a two-hour exam, students might be able to write 1500 – 2000 words in total but this is very variable depending on discipline and level. With a take-home exam, you might expect students to spend more than two hours on it, so you might increase your expectations of the length. This would clearly have an effect on the time needed to mark the exams, which needs to be factored in.

Group work

Not applicable.

Plagiarism Issues

Submissions could be made through Turnitin to reduce this possibility.


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