Research Article

Online Exams in Language, Linguistics and Translation Courses During the Pandemic in Saudi Arabia



At Saudi universities, there was a sudden shift from face-to-face instruction to distance learning and assessment in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This study explored the status of online exams in language, linguistics, and translation courses in the first two semesters of the Pandemic (Spring 2020 and Fall 2020). Analysis of faculty surveys and students’ comments on Twitter showed that the main concern of 91% of the students was final exams and passing courses with high grades. Students were worried about the negative effect of online exams on their GPA. Since the students were not familiar with online exams taken via Blackboard, they were anxious and wondered if they would do well. Some cheated on online exams as their cameras were turned off. Numerous adjustments were mandated by university administrations to alleviate students’ anxiety such as allocating 20% of the course mark to the final exam, allowing more exam time, giving projects, open-book exams, term papers, reports, assignments or giving a presentation instead of the final. Some instructors gave easy questions and were lenient in grading to avoid students’ complaints. They gave no essay, just objective questions. The students were given the option to drop the course, to choose a letter grade, pass/fail, i.e., no grade, or to have a course mark included in their GPA. Based on faculty surveys, this study reports challenges of online exams during the Pandemic, design and delivery of online exams, assessment forms and choices, grade inflation issues, and lessons learned and some recommendations.

Article information


Journal of World Englishes and Educational Practices

Volume (Issue)

4 (3)





How to Cite

Al-Jarf, R. (2022). Online Exams in Language, Linguistics and Translation Courses During the Pandemic in Saudi Arabia. Journal of World Englishes and Educational Practices, 4(3), 14–25.



COVID-19 Pandemic, student assessment, online assessment, online exams, online instruction, distance learning, Saudi universities, language courses, linguistics courses, translation courses.