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Maths Students' FAQ

Changes 30th April 2020.

Below are responses to the most common queries that we are getting from students, related to the Maths Department only (i.e. we will not use this page to clarify University wide issues). The information contained in this page is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as definite advice on any subject matter. As things are still rapidly evolving, the information is subject to further discussion, completion, amendment and change without notice. Please defer to the latest University and Department advice in this case.

The Maths SSLC also have a live form where you can submit topics for consideration for this page. PLEASE DO NOT USE THIS FORM FOR PERSONAL MITIGATION, these should go to your Personal Tutors in the first instance.

Please note. All the questions that have been passed on by the SSLC have been read and considered, but may not be addressed below. This may be because the answers are actually contained in these pages already, they are things that we do not know the answer to at this time, or they are concerns that we cannot address.

How will the exam board assign classifications for finalists this year and next year, taking into account the "safety net"?

The University has now disseminated how the "safety net" will work, which they are calling the "Graduation Benchmark". For finalists details can be found here:

and for intermediate years (this includes year 3 of the MMath) details can be found here:

(noting that this is to do with how marks are carried forward for classifying degrees next year and will most likely not be fed into progression on the MMath). The information on the above pages are as much as we can say at this time regarding the finer details of exam board procedures.

Please note that these benchmarks will not be calculated and made available to students before the exam boards are held in July, as instructed by the University, so please don't ask. You will be able to make rough approximations yourselves based on the marks you already have and know, although we are aware that some of you have work that you were not able to collect before Easter so some guesswork may be necessary. Given the current priorities and heavy workload of those in the department involved with marks admin, it is very unlikely that there will be the capacity to distribute outstanding assessed marks any time soon, so again, please don't put more pressure on an already overloaded system by asking, thank you.

The "safety net" says I need to pass enough modules to achieve the required credit for your degrees, what does this mean?

This information can be found here for finalists, and here for intermediate years, where it sets out the minimum number of modules you need to pass.

Essentially for 2nd year you need to pass at least 60 CATS of modules (at the 40% pass mark), for 3rd year BSc 168 CATS in the final two years combined and at least 80 CATS in final year and for MMath finalists 258 CATS in the final three years with at least 90 CATS in final year. Although the exam board does have some flexibility if there is enough evidence to do so (including mitigation).

How will my assessed components be calculated?

Nothing has changed regarding how your assessed components will be calculated from your assignments. If it was best N-1 out of N it still will be, it it was best N out of N it still will be.

What should first years be doing?

As first year exams are cancelled, you do not need to continue revising. If you have not succeeded in reaching the threshold to progress from marks we already have for you (still to be determined) then we will ask you to complete some form of assessment or interview, but you will be given sufficient time and advice to prepare for this (these would most likely take place in September). At this time we are not able to confirm or deny if you have achieved the correct level to proceed without any further assessment, this has to be formally decided by the department in its exam board at the end of June, and a subgroup of Senate after that.

In term 3 there is be material to study with your Tutor Group and Personal Tutor which can be found here which will consolidate what you have learned over the past year, and help prepare you for next year (in addition to the University wide Moodle course that is now also live).

With answering fewer questions does the weighting between compulsory and optional questions change?

No. If an exam now has one compulsory question (40 marks) and two optional (20 marks each) the exam is now out 80 and this will be converted to a percentage. I.e. a 40 mark compulsory question is now worth 50% of the exam (but note scaling discussion below).

Lecturers may be adjusting their marking to take into account bookwork, will this change the number of marks a question is worth? Will there be scaling?

Where there is a question consisting of both bookwork and unseen material lecturers may place more weight on the unseen material, but this will be in moderate amounts, and the marks available for the whole question will remain unchanged. It is likely that exams with more bookwork than others may still attract higher averages than other modules. Our standard scaling procedure takes into account not just the average, but also the average mark of those student taking the module over their other maths modules, as well as discussion on a case by case basis for each module. It is likely we will still follow a similar process to maintain fairness for those students whose module choices included fewer modules with significant bookwork.

All exams are unchanged from those submitted when we were under the impression that exams would be carried out as normal, no changes, other than the number of questions required to be answered, have been made.

Note, scaling applies to a module and everyone on it, we do not scale individual students independently.

When are the 2018/19 exam solutions going to be uploaded?

Rather than uploading all the solutions from last year's exams to a central page, as has become the norm, this year, given the open book nature of exams, we have asked individual lecturers to upload their exam solutions on module Moodle pages if appropriate to do so. So no, we will not be uploading solutions to the usual repository.

If my internet goes down in the middle of an exam will I fail it?

The 24 hour window is in part in place for things like this. If when you are attempting to upload your solutions you have technical issues such as no internet, then upload at a later time and submit mitigation. Bearing this in mind, if you are somewhere where your internet can be a bit dodgy do not plan to take your exam near the end of the 24 hour window where there is a risk you will run out of time to submit. At the moment we can't say how we will take this mitigation into account, but we will try to be as sympathetic as we can. You do not need to be logged in continuously for the duration of the exam (although if you aren't and it's within the first three hours of the 24 hour window - or two for the odd two hour exam - you may miss an important announcement).

I'm worried about having to find the time for a viva within 24 hours of an exam when I'm still taking other exams.

The Maths department will not be running random vivas within 24 hours of an exam being sat, which some departments will be doing. We may hold vivas later in the term where there is evidence of plagiarism or to help calibrate results, but if we do will avoid exam periods.

Should I be trying the AEP Trial Exams?

If you are taking modules from outside of Maths, Physics, Stats then yes, you need to be prepared for a different format of exam so that you don't have a shock when you start an exam from an external department. There is no formal requirement to have taken them though.

For online exams can we use calculators, Google, Wikipedia?

All exams are written so that a calculator is not necessary, this has not changed. For using other online resources please see instructions on the Warwick Mathematics Exams 2020 page.

The department considers using Wikipedia/Stackexchange or any online resource, other than the standard lecture materials (lecture notes, the module textbook, past exam papers, your own written lecture notes) as a serious breach of academic integrity and consequently will pursue each such case. The department considers not mentioning moodle as a reference a minor breach and will not pursue such cases. We issued this guidance to lecturers, who will mark the scripts applying these guidelines and their own academic judgement.

My exam timetable says I am sitting a "resit" or "overflow" exam, am I sitting the same exam as everyone else?

If you are sitting a "resit" exam it is because the main exam is based on material from this current academic year rather than the year you attended the module lectures. This is a separate exam that has been checked to make sure that it is suitable for your year (e.g. included material or notation used), when it's time and you are directed to the exam page from AEP it should take you to the correct version (if a separate paper is not needed you will take the same paper as everyone else). If you are an "overflow" exam, this was just an administrative designation when exam halls could not physically fit everyone in the same place to split up cohorts, the exam you will sit is the same exam as everyone else.

What will be the criteria for continuation on MMath?

Once we have something more definite to say we will disseminate it on these pages, but for progression to G103 from second to third year, any changes to the current requirement (65% or over in best 90 CATS of maths) will be discussed and approved by the exam board. The overriding concern at the cut off is whether we think a student can succeed on the 4 year degree or not based on collective decades of experience, this will not change. Progression from year 3 to year 4 requires 55% best 90 CATS and overall average, here the exam board would likely look at students on a case by case basis, every year there are only a small number of students for whom this decision needs to be made.

I'm a joint degree student, why am I not receiving the updates that are being sent to Maths students?

That would be because you are not a maths student! Correspondence sent out to our students is directed towards their current needs, and how they relate to their home department.It will often contain department specific procedures or contacts which will contradict the information that is pertinent to other departments. All students have access to these pages if they are curious, any important information that external students need to know about e.g. maths exams will be relayed through home departments or on a module by module basis at the appropriate time.

I have X, Y, Z happening at where I am now living making it very difficult to revise/take exams/sleep, will you take this into account in the exam boards, should I submit mitigation?

The assumption is that this is a difficult time for everyone, and we will not be able to take specific instances of small siblings, helping out round the house, noisy dogs into account beyond that. Indeed, some students will be completely isolated without these distractions but with a whole raft of other consequences that will have a negative impact. Clearly cases of worsening mental health, for example, should be highlighted to us (and remember that Wellbeing Support is still active), but for things that are affecting everyone to some degree or other (including most of the staff who are trying to help you) we will have to take a blanket approach across all students in exam boards. For essays and projects the additional two week extension that has been added across the University is in recognition of the fact that things are not easy at the moment, and the forthcoming release of examination arrangements will also be taking into account the unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in, and hopefully alleviate some of the stress.

If in doubt, contact your Personal Tutor in the first instance.

How are we supposed to upload mathematics when our Exams are online?

You will be set limited time exams and expected to upload solutions online (see exams page). We do not expect (indeed will discourage) you to use word documents or to LaTeX solutions. Instead we expect the standard method to be taking photographs of your handwritten work and converting them to pdfs to upload (there is an additionl 45 minutes allowed for you to do this). More guidance can be found on the Mathematical Sciences Assessment page.

If you are used to writing answers on an ipad or tablet with a stylus, it would be perfectly acceptable for you to export this to a pdf to upload.

I am taking resits this year, how will the changes affect me?

We are still awaiting confirmation from the University on details of standards required for progression from first to second year without Term 3 exams, but we hope that we can largely treat resitting first years in the same manner as current first years. In the meantime you should assume that there could be some additional assessment that you must complete. Students in other years who are resitting, you will be required to undertake the same form of assessment as current students (although as usual checked for suitability for the year you attended the lectures for each module).

With all first year exams and 3rd term modules being cancelled I'm going to end the year being under 120 CATS, how will this affect me?

If you end up on less than 120 CATS due to cancelled modules and/or exams we will take this into account and you will not be disadvantaged. For example, a possible solution will be if you were to end up on 114 CATS we would calculate your end of year average over that 114 CATS, but we cannot be precise at the moment because we are awaiting approved changes to regulations. Main message is not to worry.

I am worried that other students will have an unfair advantage on online exams because they are cheating/colluding.

You will see from the emails from the Head of Department, and the section covering this on the exams page, that this is something we are also thinking about, but largely hope that it won't be a widespread issue and that students will be sensible and show some integrity. For a limited time exam delivered and responded to online, we suspect that a well prepared student is still going to be at an advantage, or that a good student is not going to want to jeopardise their own good mark by wasting precious time helping someone else. There will still also be the University Disciplinary procedures open to us in cases where action needs to be taken. We know students stretch the rules for assignments, but, the risks are really much higher here.

We will not be holding random vivas within 24 hours of the exam, or asking you to upload drafts (suggestions on the University's page dealing with this) but reserve the right to arrange vivas at a later date if there are suspicions of illegal behaviour.

We have been told that "we will ensure that your final academic year average is the same as or higher than the average you have attained so far", what does this mean?

This is the "safety net". As a department we currently still don't know what this means, and are awaiting clarification for how this is to be applied for courses that use very different weightings of exam and assessment. It is extremely unlikely that it means that your final year average will be bounded below by your assessed marks during only that final year. Once we have a better idea this will be communicated to you. Please also see the following FAQ item and the latest on this from the University (31st March):

  • You must submit and take all outstanding assessments currently set and in Term 3 to qualify for the safety net;
  • If you miss an assessment due to illness or other mitigating circumstances then the Exam Board will take this into account;
  • You should not seek details of the safety net commitment from your department at this stage but should instead wait for a University-wide communication so that we can focus on issuing this guidance as soon as possible.

We were told A but now B is happening? When are we going to be told about X?

Under normal circumstances changes to regulations, especially ones as wide ranging as those being put in place for this current exam period, go through a lengthy approval process. This usually entails working groups of the University made up of representatives from all faculties discussing implications, and wording of any changes, these then are discussed at Faculty level (in our case the Science Engineering and Medical School Education Committee, and Board of the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Medicine), which often bounces it back to the working groups. Eventually it then makes its way to AQSC (the Academic Quality and Standards Committee) which if approval happend then pushes it up to Senate and then Council. This is a lengthy process, and even then any changes are usually only introduced for the next intake of students.

There are not normal circumstances! We are living in times that have been, and still are, rapidly changing, not so much goalposts moving, but sometimes not even knowing where the goalposts are. Therefore there are many decisions being made and implemented by the University which necessarily has to bypass a lot of the usual scrutiny, and department input. This still takes time (which is why you are not hearing about everything), but also some solutions will be put in place that later need to be changed or refined. As a result, there will almost certainly be outcomes that are not what we as a department would predict. These are driven by necessity, and at this stage, having given the University a lot of input from the mathematics point of view, we simply trust the university to make broad and sensible decisions aimed at supporting all students while prioritising graduation and progression.