Academic support

Timed Open Book Assessment FAQs

During these uncertain times, we want to ensure you feel fully equipped to tackle your assessments no matter what form they come in. Ahead of the summer exam periods, the university will be continuing with Timed Open Book Assessments (TOBA's). The only face to face exams that will be taking place are those required by professional bodies. So the majority of you will be continuing with TOBA's for this academic year. 

We have worked with the university to provided a list of FAQ and a video regarding Timed Open Book Assessments. We hope that this will provide you with some additional clarity however if you have any concerns please feel free to contact us on studentsunion@harper-adams.ac.uk or your module tutor. 


What is a TOBA? 

  • Timed Open Book Assessment – essentially, a cross between an examination and a piece of coursework.

Why is the University using TOBAs?

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not possible for the University to operate its normal (face-to-face) examination timetable.  Therefore, TOBAs will replace nearly all f2f examinations in the 2020/21 academic year (with some exceptions due to Professional Body requirements).

When will my TOBAs be launched (and when will they need to be submitted)?

  • Please see TOBA timetable on the Learning Hub (in Student Info, Exam Information)

How does a TOBA work?

  • Each TOBA will be launched on the Learning Hub in week 11 (in the Assessment Centre for the module);
  • Each TOBA will also include a time guide, page limit and the assessment criteria;
  • Your completed TOBA must be submitted by stated deadline.

TOBA time guides

  • In setting TOBAs, tutors have specified the amount of time that you should set aside/use to complete a TOBA e.g 2 hours.
  • For students who would normally receive extra time in a f2f exam, you may also add this time to your TOBA e.g. the 2 hour duration would become 2 ½ hours.

If the TOBA is meant to be completed in 2 hours, why is there so much additional time available?

  • Each TOBA sits within a 54 hour window to provide a some flexibility for students e.g temporary loss of internet or the need to ‘fit in’ with other household arrangements i.e. general life circumstances.

Can I spend more time on my TOBA?

  • Although the University will not monitor how much time you spend on a TOBA, students are only expected to work to the time guide (and page limit).

What will happen if I submit my TOBA after the 3.00pm deadline?

  • Work submitted after the deadline will be awarded a mark of Zero.
  • Earlier submission of your TOBA is strongly recommended.

What happens if I submit/upload the wrong file to the drop in box?

  • It is YOUR responsibility to check that you have uploaded the correct file (On the Learning Hub, see Student info, Assignments for how to check your upload);
  • If you find that you have made a mistake, you can replace the file (as long as this is before the deadline);
  • N.B. – make sure you upload your file in the specified file format.

Can the Learner Support team help me with my TOBA?

  • The Learner Support Team can help you to plan and prepare for your TOBA assessment(s), but they cannot check or read your work before you submit it.
  • Please note that additional exam arrangements that normally apply to formal time-constrained examinations (e.g. readers, scribes etc) are not applicable for TOBAs.  If you have any concerns, please contact the Learner Support Team in the first instance.

Can I use books/notes/internet when writing my TOBA?

  • Yes, although it is not a requirement;
  • If you do use books/notes/internet etc, you must still plan to complete the TOBA within the recommended time guide.

Do I need to include full references within my TOBA?

  • No.  It is good practice to identify the major sources within your answer, but there is no need for a reference list.

What style/type of questions will TOBAs use?

  • Each TOBA has been written to be appropriate to the specific module;
  • The vast majority of TOBAs will be based on open questions, allowing you the opportunity to build a logical and considered answer. The TOBA can be completed without references, but undertaking preparatory revision of the subject prior to the launch of the TOBAs is recommended.

What should I do if I am unwell during my TOBA?

  • If you experience a temporary illness (e.g. headache, upset stomach, or colds), the submission window should mean that you are still able to complete the TOBA by the deadline;
  • If you are too ill to work during the TOBA window, you should contact your Course Manager/Course Tutor (before the TOBA submission deadline) to discuss submitting a claim for mitigating circumstances.  Please note, that any claim will need to be supported by independent medical evidence.