Unseen examinations are very common because the assumption is that students will revise the whole curriculum. Some of the following points may be helpful:
• Avoid testing basic information recall, set questions that require students to make use of their knowledge and re-interpret it intelligently
• Ensure the questions are clear and unambiguous
• Prepare your marking brief at the same time as you set the question so that you have a clear view of what constitutes an effective answer
• Consider making the mark scheme explicit so that students understand which parts of the examination carry most marks and don’t waste time on less important areas
Seen examinations are where questions are given out at a pre-specified date beforehand. The advantage is that students focus on preparation for the answer rather than second-guessing what questions will be set. Anxiety is reduced and standards are likely to rise because students can use it as a learning experience. However, plagiarism can be an issue.