Last updated on December 2nd, 2021

 SOM Examination Scheduling Policy

This policy governs scheduling, publication and rescheduling after compromised delivery for all examinations at St George’s University School of Medicine.

Applicability

This policy is applicable to administrators, scheduling officers, course directors, faculty, staff, student representatives, students taking examinations, and examination services.

Definitions

Written Course Examination

A written examination is an examination testing a student’s knowledge, understanding, application, analysis, evaluation or synthesis of the course material. The most common format of these examinations is a series of multiple-choice-single-best-answer items, but other written formats, including essay examinations, fall into this category.

Modular Course Examination

Modular Course Examinations are usually Written Examinations testing the material covered by learning objectives of the respective course segment (usually a module, or part of a module) preceding the examination, either from the start of the course for the first course examination, or from the day after the prior course examination. Typically, a question tests content covered in the respective course segment. Up to 10 percent of a Modular Course Examination can be cumulative in nature.

Practical Course Examination

Practical Course Examinations are hands-on examinations that test the practical skills of a student outlined in the learning objectives of the course. Practical laboratory examinations and practical clinical skills examinations fall into this category.

Basic Sciences Comprehensive Examination (BSCE)

Basic Sciences Comprehensive Examinations are examinations testing the material covered by the learning objectives of one or more courses offered at St George’s University School of Medicine (SGU SOM). They can be based on internal test items developed within SOM, or in the format of customized examinations provided through the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).

NBME Subject Examination

Subject Examinations are standardized written examinations offered by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). They provide US national normative data that reflect the performance of examinees from medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME). The Subject Exams are developed by NBME committees of content experts and include score reports that deliver actionable performance feedback.

NBME Comprehensive Examination

The NBME offers two Comprehensive Examinations. The Comprehensive Basic Sciences Examination (CBSE) tests material typically taught during the Basic Sciences Years of a Medical School Curriculum. The Comprehensive Clinical Sciences Examination (CCSE) tests on material typically taught during the Clinical Years.

Examination Services

Examination Services are the division of the SGU Office of Institutional Advancement and are responsible for the logistical delivery of examinations. They are comprised of full-time and part-time employees of SGU.

Chief Proctor

The Chief Proctor is the person in charge of the examination delivery in a specific examination venue. The Chief Proctor oversees the overall conditions inside and in proximity to the examination venue and all associated proctoring activities.

Completion Examination

A Completion Examination is an examination provided to students who missed the originally scheduled examination and who have a valid documented medical or non-medical excuse, and for students who are otherwise required to take the completion examination. Completion Examinations are typically based on test items that are equivalent (content and difficulty level), but not identical, to the original regular examinations.

Make-up Examination

Make-up Examinations are examinations provided for students who failed a course of 4 credits or less, based on a single course examination (certain condition regarding the credit load of the course apply).

Scheduling Requirements for Course Examinations

Basic Sciences Written Examinations

No Written Course Examinations are to be scheduled on Saturdays, Sundays, or public holidays observed in the country the course is offered in. In cases of online or hybrid course delivery, only the public holidays of the country the course is offered from (usually either Grenada or the UK in the Basic Sciences) are relevant exclusion days.

Examinations scheduled over multiple subsequent days, with different time windows for individual students, such as most Practical Course Examinations (OSPEs, OSCEs), may include Saturdays or Sundays, but not public holidays observed in the country, if the individual student does not spend more than 4 hours total (individual testing time plus sequestration time) under examination conditions.

It is the responsibility of the Course Director to ensure that there is no new material, with new learning objectives, taught on the day prior to an examination. There are no restrictions on review sessions, such as Interactive Multiple Choice Question sessions (IMCQs), Themed Office Hours (TOHs), or similar scheduled class events that are focused on application of previously taught material, rather than presentation of new course material during this time window.

For written Course Examinations of courses that are being offered simultaneously in multiple countries (for example Grenada and the UK in year one of the Basic Sciences), the timing is simultaneous (same UST), including download windows and CHECK IN times.

In case different cohorts of students require different start times, for example to accommodate different time zones in an online or hybrid delivery scenario, a different version of the examination has to be produced for each cohort, with equivalent (content and difficulty), but not identical test items.

Number of Written Course Examinations in the Basic Sciences

In a 16 to 18-week term, there should be no less than 3, and no more than 5 Modular Written Course Examinations. A 6 to 8-week term should have 2 Modular Written Course Examinations, one approximately mid-term and one at the end of term. The number of Comprehensive Examinations in the Basic Sciences is limited to a maximum of a single examination per term. The first Comprehensive Examination is currently delivered at the end of Basic Sciences Year One, and the second at the end of Year Two.

Practical Course Examinations in the Basic Sciences

For practical examinations/clinical assessments, a range of dates in which the individual student assessments will take place, e.g., spanning a week, will be published in the official Academic Class Schedule. Students will receive their individual testing day and time assignment from the Course Director, either through email notification or the electronic course management system, approximately 3 days before the start of the examination time window.

Basic Sciences Completion Examinations

All Basic Sciences Completion Examinations are scheduled during the week after the last scheduled regular class examinations. In order to adequately accommodate medical self-excuses, the Completion Examination of the last written course examination can only be scheduled 7 days after the originally scheduled examination.

Clinical Years Written Examinations

Students take an NBME Subject Examination at the end of each clerkship. Details on when to take these examinations are outlined in the Clinical Training Manual.

Venue Requirements

All onsite examinations have to be scheduled in a suitable testing environment.

Typical testing venues on campus are study halls with individual student carrels, or small group venues with tables and temporary dividers on top of the table. Lecture halls are not considered a suitable environment for SOM examinations, except for emergency situations when no other suitable test venue is available and when the only alternative would be to cancel the exam for a significant percentage of the class.

For online examinations, it is the responsibility of the student to create a suitable testing environment. If a student’s home during online teaching is not suitable for an examination, it is the student’s responsibility to find an alternative testing space that meets the requirements set out in the examination policy (e.g., a temporary space, rent a hotel room, etc.). In case the conditions deteriorate during an examination, the Chief Proctor may authorize a termination of the examination process for the affected student(s).

In case the examination is delivered through a professional testing center, it is the responsibility of the testing center to ensure a suitable testing environment. Students who experience adverse conditions in a professional testing center are advised to contact the Dean of Students, who will start an investigation and work with the respective Dean on a remediation plan, if appropriate.

Publication of Examination Schedules

The examination schedules, once finalized, will be published as part of the Academic Class Schedules and made available centrally on the Office of the University Registrar’s site https://mycampus.sgu.edu/office-of-the-university-registrar/Academic-Class-Schedules. These schedules also include the dates of completion and make-up examinations. Once the examination schedules are published, they are considered final cannot be changed upon individual or group requests.

Re-Scheduling of Examinations

Examination dates can only be changed under extreme extenuating circumstances. These extenuating circumstances include, but are not limited to natural disasters, extreme weather, pandemic or other severe situations that are not compatible with an orderly delivery of an examination.

Adverse Conditions in an Examination Venue

During an examination, the condition of the examination venue is constantly monitored by the Chief Proctor assigned to the venue. In case the conditions become unsuitable for an examination, the Chief Proctor may have to terminate the examination process in the affected venue. This step is taken if the adverse conditions cannot be rectified within a reasonable time. In case the adverse conditions appear during the break between examination blocks, the Chief Proctor may consider a relocation into a different examination venue, if one is available. Under no circumstances can the overall interruption time between two blocks exceed two hours.

Minor adverse conditions in an examination venue within the normal variability, such as variations in ambient light (from sun to cloud), room temperature, as well as minor interruptions caused by the persons inside the examination venue, for example when they are blowing their nose, do not warrant a termination of an examination, nor do they warrant any interference with the resulting examination scores for an individual student.

The safety of students and members of Examination Services inside an examination venue is paramount. A fire alarm requires immediate evacuation of the examination venue, and students must assemble in the designated muster area. The Chief Proctor will assess the situation and report to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), the Course Director and the Senior Associate Dean.

In case one or more examination venues become dysfunctional prior to a scheduled examination, the Assistant Dean overseeing scheduling will investigate the availability of alternative venues first and will only initiate a re-scheduling if the available alternatives, which may include lecture halls, are not sufficient or suitable to deliver the examination to the class.

Compromised Integrity of an Examination

In case the integrity of an examination has been compromised, for example if there has been a breach in examination security and students were able to get access to an examination or its elements prior to the delivery date, the originally scheduled delivery of the examination will be abandoned.

In cases where a breach of examination security comes to light after the examination has already been delivered, but the scores have not become final, which is two weeks after the examination, such a compromised examination can be invalidated by the Course Director in consultation with the Assessment Review Committee and following the approval of the relevant Senior Associate Dean of Basic Sciences or the Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Studies. This requires a re-scheduling of the examination within the term or at the scheduled completion date.

Procedures following Examination Termination/Invalidation

If an examination is terminated or invalidated, for example in case of compromised examination integrity, for the whole class, or for a specified cohort, e.g.in a specific examination venue, the Course Director, in consultation with the Assessments Review Committee and the Senior Associate Dean of Basic Sciences will meet with representatives of Examination Services. During this meeting, the situation is analyzed and a plan of action is developed.

As one of the possible outcomes of this meeting, the Assistant Dean of Basic Sciences responsible for scheduling may be charged to call a scheduling meeting to discuss the re-scheduling of the examination, including the stakeholders relevant to the scheduling of the particular examination, including the Course Director and two members of the Student Government Association (SGA) to re-schedule the examination for the affected student cohorts.

In case the School of Medicine is unable to deliver a rescheduled examination during the term, it is at the discretion of the Senior Associate Dean of Basic Sciences to develop an alternative plan.

Students will be informed of the date and time of the rescheduled examination, or the decision to determine the course grades without the missing examination, no later than 7 days after the originally scheduled examination, via the usual communication pathways, including the electronic course management system.

In case an examination is terminated for a single student, or a small number of students, these students will have to take the completion examination at the date published in the official Academic Class Schedule.

Guidelines for Rescheduling Examinations

The re-scheduling should adhere to the following guidelines as much as possible:

Saturdays, Sundays, or public holidays are no longer absolute exclusion days with regard to rescheduling examinations.

All course examinations have to be rescheduled within the term of the original examination, and no later than the day of the last scheduled completion examination, as published in the official Academic Class Schedule.

Practical Course Examinations, such as OSPEs and OSCEs should be scheduled during the term and prior to the last examination.

In case the last course examination in a term has to be re-scheduled, this should be done between the original date of the final examination and the last Completion Examination, as outlined in the official Academic Class Schedule.

A re-scheduled written examination is only offered as a whole and there is no re-scheduling of individual examination blocks.

The publication of the re-scheduled examination dates and times and the revised examination announcement are usually done via email or through the electronic course management system. There is no requirement for publication of the re-scheduled examination through a revised Academic Class Schedule. The Scheduling Officer of the University in the Provost’s office responsible for SOM examinations ensures the proper entry of the venue bookings through the University scheduling system (currently 25live).