Revealed: the different assessments you'll face during online study

Throughout your time as a student, there will be a range of ways your lecturers will test your knowledge. Get to know the kinds of assessments involved to give yourself the best chance at success.  

As a new student, you’re likely curious about the kinds of assessments you'll be completing during your studies online. And while assessments aren't always fun, they’re essential to ensuring you’re absorbing the information you’re being taught—and better yet, they often reflect the kinds of tasks you'll carry out in the workforce. 

Different types of assessments explained 

1. Written assessments

A written assessment may include writing a research paper, creative essay or short answer responses in an exam or assignment. In this style of assessment, you must rely 100% on your writing capabilities to shine. Lecturers want to see how well you address the challenge or concept and how well you structure and support your argument. 

2. Oral assessments

In an online course, lecturers may assess your understanding through oral skills including: 


These, you'll typically deliver solo or with a group through a chat platform like Zoom. You'll be assessed on remembering information about your topic through speech, how you organise information on slides, how well you engage with your audience, and (if you’re working in a group) how well you collaborated. 


These involve being questioned by an examiner on a particular topic. You'll be assessed on your level of knowledge and the clarity and quality of your responses. In a postgraduate course, you might be asked to discuss a longer piece of written work (like a thesis) during an interrogation with examiners. 

Role-playing scenarios

These tend to be common in clinical or language courses. In a language course, you might be asked to use your skills in a conversational setting so that examiners can see how well you speak and comprehend the language. In psychology courses, role-playing assessments are used to evaluate how you would respond in a real-world patient situation.  

3. Demonstration-related assessments

A demonstration-related assessment or ‘skills demonstration’ involves a practical examination or simulation in which you show what you have learned through practical application.  
An example is the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), which is a clinical exam set in health sciences degrees, where the student is required to move from one simulated patient to another and answers questions about the diagnoses.

How to nail uni assessments

Provide the proper evidence and references

Your lecturers are looking for evidence that you’ve demonstrated critical thinking and researched what you’re talking about. Having an educated opinion backed by evidence and accurately referencing your sources will strengthen your argument.

Manage your time wisely

Depending on the type of assessment, you will generally have a due date to either complete it or prepare for it. Before you get started, it’s important to keep this in mind and make sure you're giving yourself enough time to complete the assessment and check your work!

Be confident in yourself

If you believe that you can achieve success, you’re more likely to succeed. Be brave in your ideas, seek help from lecturers or tutors if you need it and do what you can to make the most of your studies.

Make use of online tools

There’s Zoom for chatting through requirements with classmates and lecturers, EndNote for sharing references, and Office 365 Education for seamlessly preparing group presentations. 

Getting help with online assessments

If you’re ever feeling nervous or overwhelmed, know that you don’t have to go it alone.

Ask your lecturers

Never be afraid to ask for clarification. For lecturers, a question from a student shows that they are engaged and want to do well. If you have special circumstances or a disability, you may also be able to ask for extra time to return assignments. In some cases, you may even be able to perform multiple choice as opposed to long written responses. Ask your university about the options available for your unique situation.  

Online assessments FAQ

Are online assessments more challenging?

Absolutely not! You’ll complete the same assessments that you would if you were studying on campus. You’ll just deliver them in a virtual format. As an example, you might do your final exam at your own desk rather than in a stadium full of people (while following some strict guidelines of course!). And because you’re not attending tutorials but studying the course material in your own time, you might be given short weekly activities to replace those discussions you would have in class. 

Where can I see examples of online assessments?

Ask your university lecturer for examples of previous assessments to see what a real life example looks like. This can help to squash any nerves you have about upcoming tasks. It also gives you a chance to see the level of thinking required, as well as layout, references and the like. If it’s an oral assessment, you may even be able to ask for recordings or previous students.

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