Exam Tips for the Distanced Environment

Assistant Dean Jason Dugas ’01 Offers Support, Suggestions
Law student studying in the library

A law student studies in the Arthur J. Morris Law Library. Photo by Julia Davis

November 20, 2020

Law school exams can be stressful enough without a pandemic. Fortunately, even though exam-taking at the University of Virginia School of Law this year will require a little adaptation, the process won’t be that different than in previous years.

The school will administer fall exams from Dec. 2-14. First-year law students will take their exams at a fixed time — starting at noon on Dec. 3 for Torts, Dec. 7 for Contracts, Dec. 10 for Civil Procedure and Dec. 14 for Criminal Law — while upper-level students have flexibility on when they can take their tests. Those aspects of the exam process haven’t changed, according to Jason Dugas ’01, UVA Law’s assistant dean for academic services and registrar.

The main difference compared to a typical year is that upper-level students will not check out their exam questions in the hall near the Library, where they also used to check in if they experienced technical problems. Instead, test administration and support will be virtual, and students will access their exams, whether flex or fixed, via EXPO, the school’s online system for administering exams and turning in final papers. Flex exam availability starts at noon on Dec. 2 and ends at 1 p.m. on Dec. 14.

All times are Eastern time. Complete exam information is available to students on LawWeb.

Dugas provided students a number of helpful tips and reminders as they take exams in this year’s distanced environment:

  • Outside of the Law School, students can take flex exams anywhere they choose, but Dugas encouraged students to find a quiet spot with a reliable internet connection. Students should back up their electronic work often.
  • Students can take exams in designated classrooms at the Law School, but not in the library, student organization offices, reading rooms, lounges or available study spaces. Classroom spaces are available for exam-taking on a first-come, first-served basis during the building’s open hours. As usual during exam season, seminar rooms are not available for student use. (Be aware that if public health circumstances change, the Law School may change room or building availability.)
  • Like always, students on Law School grounds must wear masks, stay 6 feet distant from others, and not eat or drink in classrooms during exams. (Designated areas for eating and drinking are the Student-Faculty Center, Hunton Andrews Kurth Hall, and outdoors.)
  • Students who are traveling over Thanksgiving should take everything needed to take exams — books, notes, computer, etc. — in case they need to quarantine or travel restrictions change. Some states and localities have issued new restrictions and shelter-in-place orders, and more could follow.
  • Dugas advised students against printing their exams at the Law School, as no time will be added due to printing delays. “And it could lead to crowding around the printers,” he said of social-distancing concerns. Students are on their honor to destroy their exam’s question sets when finished, whether printed or saved to a computer.
  • Students should report computing issues immediately to IT via their Zoom link. Staff are available 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and Saturdays from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Any non-computing emergency, such as an illness, should be reported to Sarah Davies ’91, assistant dean for student affairs, or to Dugas.
  • Student Records offers guidance on how to use EXPO through a video and instructions.

Dugas stressed that students can contact him or others in the Student Records Office, Student Affairs or IT directly if they have questions, but not individual professors.

He said the school had success with conducting remote exams during the spring, and with several first-year midterms and short-course exams this fall.

“With the help of our IT colleagues, we’ve enhanced EXPO to enable students to obtain exams remotely while retaining the flexibility afforded to upper-level students to take exams when they’re ready,” Dugas said.

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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