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Keep Progress Test Fair

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To whom it may concern,

We, the Year 4 medical students of the University of Manchester, find that standards by which the May 2021 Progress test was carried out to be lacking. Specifically, we find that allowing Year 3 students to take the exam a day before Year 4 students allowed many students to learn exam questions prior to sitting.

Many students are complaining, here is why:

Although medicine can be pass/fail, the reality is that it is highly competitive. Students make countless sacrifices trying to achieve competitive scores. Not to mention international students who leave home and are expected to return with competitive scores to be able to work at home. Thus, we are highly protective of our scores- even if it is half a percent.

We lost trust in our exam results.

Students were not expecting, regardless of whether this was intentional or not, that students in the lower years would receive the examination before us. Hence we are shocked and surprised after completing the exam. This is because we can very clearly see how easily we could have abused the system. This is further compounded by rumors, whether confirmed or not, of students doing this very thing. All in all, this leaves us not believing that our exam results are a true reflection of our clinical acumen.

We feel ignored.

Numerous students have expressed their concerns to the university and in response we have received variants of the same answer. In summary, the answer we have received was that, due to COVID restrictions, the system put in place was constructed and was deemed fair by an external board of examiners. We were reminded that the form of cheating in question (whereby students share examination questions after taking the exam) is not significant enough to change the outcome of the exam.

We have two responses to this:

Firstly, we the students should have a say in whether we find an examination fair. Hence when we are reminded that people, besides ourselves, have spoken for us, we feel dismissed.

Secondly, it is clear that providing the same exam across two dates creates a system susceptible to abuse. We have not been provided sufficient evidence to support that this does not affect the grade boundaries; and even if we did, no student wants to feel like someone else is earning a higher score for reasons besides merit alone. We also would like to remind you of evidence which suggests that question sharing is significant, particularly due to the technology that is available to most students. This issue is described in detail in the RUMS review titled "Cheating the system- Tackling the problem at UCL" (

We are disappointed.

We are proud to call ourselves University of Manchester students. We pride ourselves as students of one of the leading universities domestically and internationally. Hence we are extremely disappointed to learn that an online proctoring system, which could have avoided this issue entirely, was never found. Institutions all over the world from local secondary schools to universities have been able to, effectively, administer online exams. Yet for us, we are offered an in person alternative that leaves us feeling cheated and worried for our future.

We urge the university to sit down with our student representatives to discuss our options with the ultimate aim of restoring our trust and faith in the upcoming exam results.

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