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Every year, we deliver more than 160 online assessments to a total of over 17K participants. Over 50 of these are formal University exams

...great expertise in designing and delivering online assessment, enhancing the quality and reliability of assessment, and saving considerable amounts of academic time in marking in the process.
- University of Oxford Digital Education Strategy

As far as we’re aware, we are the only Division routinely running online assessment. Assessments include: self-test quizzes; tests whose completion is a requirement for entry into practical classes; formative assessments sat under exam conditions; and open book assessments available to students over a period of a few days. However, over 50 of these are formal University exams, run with the help of Examination Schools’ invigilators.

Why Online Assessment?

Students taking online exams

  • Marking is instantaneous
  • Easy availability of extensive question performance data:
    • Examiners can correct results for problem questions immediately
    • Problem questions can be identified and omitted from, or rewritten for, future assessments
  • Self-test and revision quizzes, with immediate feedback, are available 24/7 from anywhere with an internet connection
  • Computer-marking is fairer, removing inter-/intra-marker variability
  • Question banks can be used for both summative and formative assessment
  • High quality images can be included at lower cost than on paper. Audio, video, and even simulations and complex visualisations are also available to question authors.

Security & Reliability

Our agreement with the Proctors, allowing online University examinations, specifies the availability of a number of contingency measures, including, the provision of paper copies of an exam in the event of a power failure or similar worst case scenarios.

We run QuestionMark Perception, which is widely used in UK HE, on high-availability Oxford servers and, for reasons of security, access is only possible from machines on the Oxford network or those connected to it virtually using the University’s VPN service.

Question Types

Perception offers a huge variety of question types. These allow the incorporation of images, equations and even audio and video. However, in practice, the majority of questions used in examinations, and assessments preparing students for those examinations, are variations of standard five-part single best answer/multiple choice questions.

I have just been playing with it properly for the first time and ITS GREAT! - Professor in Biochemistry, 2013

If the question types offered by Perception don’t meet your needs, we will be able to help you with something that does. In the past we have successfully explored the marking of free-test answers (using Intelligent Assessment software). We also run a pre-arrival maths test for Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences students which uses QTIWorks. This allows us to write questions to which students give algebraic answers and which can be made to understand: answers in different units; significant figures and decimal places. Numerical questions can also be made which will randomly generate values according to rules set by the author. These allow a problem of the same type to be attempted multiple times or the problem to be given to different students but with different values and hence answers.

Question Banks

I wanted to let you know what a difference [the Question Banks have] made to the examiners' job of setting questions this year.- Course Administrator, 2012

QuestionBanks are databases of all the available online assessment questions for a subject. Questions can be filtered by syllabus coverage, question type and the assessment(s) in which they appeared. Detailed question analysis data are also available, enabling examiners to consider past performance when choosing exam questions. The banks are secure and only accessible to examiners.

The Process

MSDLT will work with you to ensure that your assessment is delivered successfully but a typical process is shown below:

Online assessment - process


Please contact us in plenty of time – to allow for question writing, input and checking – if you would like to set up a new assessment.

MSDLT Guides

For those already involved in online assessment at Oxford, you can find our guides to the various aspects here:


Online Assessment: What is the best question type? How many options should students choose from?

Online Assessment: Why can’t I access outside quizzes from my home computer? Why am I getting a ‘connection timed out’ message?

Online Assessment: Standard setting - helping to create a defensible assessment

Online Assessment: What results and analysis can I expect from my online assessment?

Online Assessment: What do difficulty, correlation, discrimination, etc. in the question analysis mean?