Last updated on December 5th, 2021

Coverage

This policy governs written examinations during the hybrid delivery of courses, for both onsite (in-person) students and online students, including the general rules of conduct, rules and procedures prior to the examination, including download (if applicable), on examination day, including resolution of medical and technical problems prior to and during an examination, rules of conduct after the examination, rules and procedures for examination irregularities, the appeals process, and approved absences from examinations.

Applicability

The following Examination Policies and Procedures apply to all written examinations offered by St George’s University School of Medicine (SGU SOM) in the Basic Sciences and in the Clinical Years, including all internal examinations delivered through ExamSoft, and all standardized or customized examinations offered by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME).

All SOM Written Examinations during the hybrid (onsite and online) delivery of courses are guided by the Computer Based Examination Administration Guidelines of the University, as published in the Student Manual (University).

SGU SOM endorses the high standards of the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) Examination Rules and Conduct.

Whenever the rules and regulations embedded in the different sources may differ, the highest of the standards set in any of these documents will be applicable to SGU SOM written examinations.

For students taking examinations at approved testing centers, additional rules and regulations may apply.

General Rules for all Course Examinations

Students must complete all course examinations to meet course requirements and earn a final course grade. If a student completes only part of an examination (e.g., Part 1 but not Part 2 of a two-part examination), then the completed part of the examination is invalidated, no score exists, and the examination is considered missed.

Students are expected to take all regular Examinations, Completion or Make-up Examinations as scheduled.

All students are expected to adhere to the Code of Conduct with respect to all University-administered examinations.

Students who fail to appear for an examination without an approved excused absence (Medical/Non-Medical) will receive a grade of zero (“0”) for the examination.

Students taking the Examination Onsite (in-person)

All Students taking their courses onsite (in person) in Grenada are also required to take their written examinations onsite.

Written Examinations during the hybrid (onsite and online) delivery of courses are governed by the Policies and Procedures outlined under Students taking the Examination Online in this document, regardless of whether students are taking courses and their examinations onsite or online. This includes, but is not limited to, delivery in multiple exam blocks of approximately one hour duration with NO bathroom breaks being permitted during these blocks, but only between blocks. It also requires Exam ID and Exam Monitor, including online proctoring.

The following points are emphasized for students taking their examination in Grenada:

1) All students taking their SOM courses onsite (i.e., attending in-person) have to take all of their written examinations onsite (i.e, in person).

2) Students will be assigned a specific examination venue, which will be indicated in their specific examination announcement, and they are required take the examination in the assigned venue without exceptions.

3) Within each venue, each student is assigned a specific carrel (cubicle); they have to be seated in the assigned spot to take the examination.

4) Any attempt to take the examination at a different venue or carrel will be treated as an examination irregularity, and may result in a penalty, following the procedure outlined below.

5) Individual seating assignments will be either published via the online course management system, or posted outside the assigned examination venue approximately 15 minutes prior to the CHECK IN time when students will be allowed to enter the venue.

6) Professional conduct requires students to be at the venue and ready to enter at the time of the announced CHECK IN time, and prior to the grace period (see below).

7) For entry into the exam venue, students have to swipe their individual student ID at the ID scanner located at the entrance for every entry and swipe again every time they leave the venue.

8) After a 30-minute grace period following the start of the CHECK IN, the doors to the venues will be closed, and the examination password will be announced; no more students will be allowed to enter an examination venue after door closure.

9) At the end of an examination block, students are allowed to leave the examination venue; students leaving the examination venue are considered to have completed the examination block and will not be allowed back into the venue during an ongoing examination block. They will be allowed back into the venue at the CHECK IN of the following examination block.

10) All examination and monitoring files have to be uploaded to the server prior to leaving the examination venue after the last examination block.

Medical or Technical Issues

Students experiencing medical or technical problems while taking the examination onsite should raise their hand to get the attention of a proctor, who will assist them.

Reporting of Adverse Testing Conditions

Any adverse testing conditions that negatively impact a student’s ability to complete the examination must be reported immediately within the examination venue to the Chief Proctor. For issues that cannot be resolved in the venue, students should immediately request that an Irregularity Report be completed by the Chief Proctor in the venue at that time of the occurrence. Students should email the Course Director immediately after the examination to alert the Course Director of the Irregularity Report that was filed in the venue. Irregularity Reports will not be considered after the examination is completed and the student has left the venue or if the outlined process is not followed.

After grades are published by the Course Director no changes will be made based on Irregularity Reports that are filed inappropriately or late, therefore students should ensure that all irregularities are dealt with appropriately in venue and that the Course Director is alerted to the presence of a filed Irregularity Report immediately after the examination. In this circumstance, the affected grade is sequestered until the irregularity is investigated.

Once the Irregularity Report is filed by the Examination Services and it is agreed by the Course Director in consultation with the Senior Associate Dean of Basic Sciences that it may have affected student performance, the affected grade will remain sequestered. A student may be offered a Completion Examination after investigation of the events. The Completion Examination, if offered, is scheduled at the end of term at the regularly scheduled date of the Completion Examinations for the course affected.

In exceptional circumstances it may be necessary to delay the start time or postpone the examination. Students are advised to not make travel arrangements for immediately after an examination to cover this eventuality.

Students taking the Examination Online

The following rules and guidelines supplement the University Examination Policies and Procedures of the Student Manual. Each examinee is responsible for reviewing and adhering to these policies.

For all medical and non-medical excuses, please see the relevant section of the Student Manual.

Prior to Exam Day

Each student is required to provide the necessary environment for online testing, including, but not limited to:

1. Personal computer meeting the required hardware and software specifications, including webcam and microphone, outlined in detail on the Examination Services of the Office of Institutional Advancement (OIA) website.

2. A quiet, private location, where they can take the examination without disturbance, where they can take the examination alone, at a desk, sitting up-right on their chair and staying silent for the whole duration of the examination.

3. Examinees are required to take the onboarding/practice (mock) examination no more than 7 days prior to an exam day, to ensure their computer is working properly.

4. For this purpose, the mock exam can be assessed at any time as follows:

• Assessment Name: ExamID and Monitor Mock Exam (PW -Mockexam1)

• Password: Mockexam1

5. Examinees experiencing technical difficulties prior to exam day must immediately contact the online support team TellExaminationServices@sgu.edu for assistance.

Examination Download

For all internal (ExamSoft) written examinations, students are required to download all blocks of an examination during the 24-hour download window indicated by the Couse Director in the Examination Announcement. Students are strongly advised to start the download procedure early, to be able to get the necessary help in time, and to avoid unnecessary stress on exam day.

External, web-based examinations offered by the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) do not require an examination download prior to the examination day.

1. If students are unable to download all examination blocks (not just the first block), an examinee must contact the online support team TellExaminationServices@sgu.edu immediately, but no later than 30 minutes prior to the CHECK IN for the first examination block.

2. If students fail to download all blocks and have not notified the online support team TellExaminationServices@sgu.edu, an examinee will automatically get a score of “zero” for the examination.

Examination Day Preparations

Prior to starting the ExamID personal identification process, a student makes sure all the requirements for online proctoring are met, including:

1. Making sure their room is well lit, and the camera is taking a frontal view, with the examinee’s face in the center.

2. The entire face of the examinee must be visible, especially eyes and mouth, at all times.

• Use the monitor tab in Examplify to check positioning during the examination.

3. Hair long enough to cover the eyes and ears must be pulled back. Hats or other headwear are prohibited.

4. Reading glasses with clear lenses are acceptable, but tinted glasses or sunglasses are prohibited.

5. The examination room must be well-lit, with a plain background, avoiding dark shadows across the examinee’s face.

6. Personal Student ID issued by SGU, must be ready for display when requested to do so. A government-issued photo ID is the only permitted alternative.

7. Talking is not permitted for the whole duration of the examination. Students are not allowed to read aloud any parts of the question or the question choices, and are not allowed to express thoughts in spoken language, even if it is silently.

8. Leaving the examination desk, no matter how brief, is not permitted during an examination block. Bathroom breaks are limited to the times prior to the examination, after the examination, or during the breaks between examination blocks.

9. Items banned from regular, on-site examinations, are also banned during online examinations. This includes, but is not limited to:

• Cell phones

• Other electronic or communication devices

• Wrist watches

• Hoodies

• Scrap paper

• Pens, pencils, or stylus

• Food or beverages

• Water bottles

10. Additional items banned from online examinations are:

• Headphones, earphones, headsets

• Earplugs

• White boards – examinees will be able to use the “Notes” function within ExamSoft instead

Password Announcement

Passwords will be announced via the online course management system (Sakai) and/or email notification approximately 15 minutes prior to CHECK IN of each examination block.

If an examinee is not taking the examination because of a medical or any other valid excuse, they have to ignore the password notification, and not proceed to the examination.

Once a student STARTS the first block of an examination, they are affirming that they are an active student in the course (i.e., not on LOA, and not on CR) and are medically fit to take the examination. A student attempting to take an examination while on LOA or CR will be referred to FPAP.

Students who take the examination are not entitled to take the completion examination.

The Examination

1. Students MUST start the personal identification process through ExamID as soon as they have received the examination password for the first examination block.

2. After the personal identification process, students MUST start the examination immediately, without any delay.

3. Examinees experiencing technical difficulties at any time during the examination must contact the online support team TellExaminationServices@sgu.edu immediately for assistance.

4. If unable to send an email to the online support team TellExaminationServices@sgu.edu, for example during an internet outage, examinees call +1 866-429-8889 instead, where their report will be logged.

5. All issues must be reported during the examination to the online support team (see above). Any issues reported to any party after the examination will not be considered.

6. Students who do not START the examination within 30 minutes from the announced CHECK IN TIME will receive a score of “zero” for the examination, unless there is documented evidence for an approved extension from the online support team TellExaminationServices@sgu.edu.

7. Once an examination block has been started, the examinee cannot leave the examination desk for the duration of the examination block.

8. The examinee cannot return to a finished examination block.

9. All blocks must be completed and uploaded successfully, for a score to stand. The examination is invalid if only partially completed or partially uploaded.

10. If an examinee experiences a problem that the technical team cannot resolve, a completion examination will be offered (see classification of technical problems below).

11. For any examination block or examination completed, where all relevant files (exam ID and exam monitor) are intact, the score will stand. Completion examinations cannot be offered for individual blocks and cannot be offered for exams, or blocks, where technical issues are not reported during the examination.

Technical Issues

Technical issues can arise and will be classified and dealt with as follows:

1. Resolved technical issue: A log will be kept on all technical problems that a student reports to the online support team (TellExaminationServices@sgu.edu). For all resolved technical problems the score earned for the examination will stand.

2. Excused technical issue: If a student contacts the online support team in a timely manner (with enough time to complete the exam), and they cannot solve the technical issue, students will be eligible (without penalty) for a completion examination. This will be solely determined by the online support team (TellExaminationServices@sgu.edu).

3. Non-excused technical issue: Failure to comply with any of the above regulations, or failure to follow instructions from the online support team (TellExaminationServices@sgu.edu), will automatically lead to a score of “zero” (0 points) for the examination.

Appeals Process

A student who receives a “zero” for the examination because of any of the above stipulations may appeal against the “zero” score. A written appeal outlining the sequence of events and explaining the circumstances that led to the compliance failure, has to be sent to the relevant Senior Associate Dean. The Dean of Students office can assist the student in the appeals process.

The Faculty Panel on Academic Professionalism FPAP will review the written appeal of a student and make one of the following determinations:

1. A score of zero will be retained for the examination.

2. The recorded score may be reinstated, if the investigation confirms that the files are intact, can be uploaded, and there is no doubt about the integrity of the files and their logged times or an examinee’s integrity, in their attempts to ensure the files were uploaded. An academic penalty may be applied for non-compliance with examination procedures. The penalty may be up to 10% of the course grade.

3. The examinee may be required to take a completion examination at the end of term, and an academic penalty may be applied for non-compliance with examination procedures. The penalty may be up to 10% of the course grade.

After the Examination

1. All examination materials are the intellectual property of St George’s University. Reproduction and/or distribution of examination materials, by any means, including reconstruction through memorization, are strictly prohibited.

2. If a student becomes aware of any suspicious activity related to an SGU examination, it is their responsibility to notify the Course Director immediately.

3. Examination irregularities, including falsely reporting technical difficulties, potential violations of the honor code, or other breaches of the examination rules and regulations will be investigated.

4. The Course Director may withhold the examination scores during an ongoing investigation.

5. Once a violation of the examination rules and regulations has been confirmed, the Course Director may impose a score of “zero” (0 points) for the examination.

6. All ID files, monitoring files, and exam result files need to be uploaded for a valid exam score to stand. Absence of any of these files will result in a score of “zero” (0 points) for the examination.

7. Failure to meet the hardware and software requirements for the examination, including failure to update to the required version of Examplify, will result in a score of “zero” (0 points) for the examination.

8. In cases of severe violations of the examination rules and regulations, the Dean may initiate disciplinary action, which may ultimately result in dismissal. When cheating is suspected, it is not the obligation of the University to prove violation beyond a shadow of a doubt, but rather by a preponderance of the credible evidence submitted. Any suspected violations are reviewed by a university judiciary panel.

Faculty Panel on Academic Professionalism (FPAP)

Where appropriate, course and examination noncompliance issues may be referred to a Faculty Panel on Academic Professionalism (FPAP) hearing. The Panel Hearings will be conducted by the Office of the relevant Senior Associate Dean. An Assistant or Associate Dean not involved directly in student support will chair the meeting, and the membership of the panel will be comprised of at least 2 other faculty members of the School of Medicine as appointed by the Senior Associate Dean of Basic Sciences. The faculty serving on the panel will be MD faculty of the SOM, that are not involved in student advising, and that have experience with the standards for promotion and progression outlined in the student manual.

A quorum for the committee is 3, decisions are reached by simply majority in which the Chair has a casting vote in the event of a tie. The committee may refer the student to an appropriate support service, or when appropriate, and as outlined in the course syllabus, recommend application of the appropriate academic penalty published in the course syllabus. The panel may reduce the penalty applied but cannot exceed that published in the syllabus. The recommendation of the Panel is passed to the relevant Senior Associate Dean for action and communication to the student.

Missed Examination

As per current School of Medicine policy, if a student misses an examination then they are given an Incomplete (I) score for the missed examination. A student who misses an examination with a valid and approved excuse, has to take the Completion Examination as scheduled to replace the Incomplete (I) with a valid examination score. Failure to take the Completion Examination as scheduled will result in a failure to complete all course requirements. As a result, the student will earn an F grade for the course.

If a student misses an examination without a valid excuse, they will be given an Incomplete (I) score for the missed examination, and an academic penalty will be imposed. The FPAP gives the student the opportunity to explain the extenuating circumstances that led to their missing the examination The panel recommends to the Senior Associate Dean of Basic Sciences as to the extent to which the penalty (of up to 10% of the total course points) is imposed. The student is then expected to take the Completion Examination for the missed exam as scheduled. Failure to take the Completion Examination as scheduled will result in a failure to complete all course requirements. As a result, the student will earn an F grade for the course.

If a student misses an examination without a valid and approved excuse, they should inform DOS on the day of the scheduled examination, following this procedure:

1) Contact DOS@sgu.edu.

2) Provide sufficient explanation and information to the designated Dean within the Dean of Students office who will to complete the official request form for an FPAP hearing. DOS will then forward the form to the relevant Senior Associate Dean for review.

After being informed of a date, time and venue for a hearing:

3) Meet with the FPAP at the scheduled date, time, and venue.

4) Explain the circumstances of the missed examination and provide any supporting documentation, if relevant.

5) In the event that no contact is made by the student, or they fail to attend the scheduled hearing then the zero score will stand for the examination.

Outcome of an FPAP Hearing

After the hearing, the FPAP will make a recommendation to the relevant Senior Associate Dean regarding the penalty, which can be up to 10% of the total course points, for a missed examination.

Once the penalty has been determined, the student will be allowed to take the scheduled Completion Examination in order to rectify the “I” score for the exam. The determined penalty of up to 10% (per violation) of the maximum total course points will be applied to the overall course grade. The Completion examination will be held at the date and time as shown in the Academic Class Schedule posted on the Office of the University Registrar site. The student has the right to appeal the decision directly with the relevant Senior Associate Dean.

If the student does not take the Completion Examination as scheduled in order to resolve the “I” grade, an F grade will be recorded as the final course grade. If the student is still eligible to continue his/her studies based on promotion standards, the student would need to repeat the failed course. If the student is recommended for dismissal as a result of the F grade, the student has the opportunity to appeal as per instruction provided.

Failure to Comply with Online Examination Policy or Procedures

If any student fails to comply with the online examination policy or procedure, they are automatically penalized and referred to the FPAP, e.g., missing monitoring files, face not seen on camera, prohibited items. The penalty will be applied to the course grade and the student may appeal the decision to the Senior Associate Dean of Basic Sciences. The Panel may refer cases to the Office of the Judicial Affairs for a separate ruling for serious violations of the Online Examination policy. Any subsequent penalties imposed by the Judiciary panel are independent of the academic penalty levied by any FPAP.

Examination Compliance

For any non-compliance issues with examination protocols that are flagged by OIA, a notice will be issued by the Course Director indicating the reasons for the flag. The first and second violations will not result in any grade deductions or penalties. A third violation may result in a penalty of up to 10% deduction of the course grade. These notifications will be kept on internal records by the relevant Senior Associate Dean and are not part of a permanent academic record.

The typical reasons for flagging are:

• Verbalization – students are not allowed to talk during the examinations

• Face not visible – incorrect camera set-up – there is a monitor tab always active in ExamSoft that can be used to monitor what is being recorded and is available at all times during the examination

• Prohibited items – no paper, pencils pens or stylus are allowed during the examinations

• Frequent looking off screen

• Other common problems are lighting, glare and any environmental condition that do not allow the software to monitor the face; students should always test ahead of time to check that their face is lit evenly (not backlit), that their eyes are visible and free from glare, especially if eyeglasses are being worn, by setting up their camera in the place they will be taking the examination with the same lighting conditions and using any software to test the camera recording, e.g. zoom. Students can use the monitor tab during the examination to confirm their face is evenly lit, and that no glare is present on their glasses.

Appeals Process for Exam Protocol Violations

On receipt of a third (or other) notification, a student may appeal the grade deduction. A written appeal outlining the sequence of events and explaining the circumstances that led to the compliance failure, has to be sent to the relevant Senior Associate Dean.

The FPAP will review the written appeal of a student, together with evidence of the violations submitted by the course director and make one of the following deliberations:

1. The grade deduction will be retained

2. The grade deduction will be removed or revised

Scaling of Examination Scores

All comprehensive examinations are scaled in the SOM. Scaling is done using the NBME process. The student Z score for their raw exam score is used to calculate their new scaled score. The scaled score is rounded to full points, rather than fractional points. For scaled examinations an average of 80% with a standard deviation of 10% is used. This can result in the scaled score being higher than, equivalent or lower than the raw score. The process is explained in the Learning Pathway document on the course site.