Being a student

Sign in or register to add page to my resources

Exams and assessment

Any course of study will be assessed in some way.  Assessment allows you to measure your progress and it enables tutors to feedback on your work so you can improve. 

Needless to say, assessment and in particular exams, are the cause of some anxiety for students.  It’s important to realise that assessment is an integral part of your study and as with any other study skill, the skills you need for assessment can be learnt and developed.

If you are looking for a course and want to know how much coursework or exams will be involved then check that out through the Unistats site.

Formative continuous assessment

This is the assessment that is on-going throughout your course.  It is called formative because it is used to support your learning and skills.  Formative assessment can take the form of essays, reports, questions etc.  These assessments are usually counted as a part of your final grade for the course, except perhaps in the first year of an honours degree.  However, the assessment structure varies from course to course so it’s best to check carefully with your university or college to find out what the assessment arrangements are for your chosen course. 

Formative assessment can also involve a piece of course work, research into a specific subject, giving a presentation to your peers and tutor, etc.


Examinations are a traditional summative assessment.  They measure your learning at the end of a prescribed period of study, for example at the end of a module or unit, or at the end of an academic year.  Exams can be stressful but the key to surviving them is to make sure you manage your time effectively and revise thoroughly.  For good advice on how to cope with exams and how to plan your revision have a look at Lifepilot’s 'Find out how to revise'


Work-based assessment

If you are completing an NVQ or a similar course the majority of your assessment will be work-based and will depend on you demonstrating your competence against a range of skills.  Foundation degrees combine academic work with work-based assessment so you will have to complete some academic assessment e.g. exam or essay/report as well as demonstrating work-based competence.

Working with partners across the North East Region

Find a provider