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Being an OU student
Being an OU student

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6 Assessment

There are three main reasons why your work is assessed:

  • To show you and your tutor how well you’ve developed the knowledge and skills taught in the module. It also helps your tutor see what support you might need.
  • To learn from your tutor’s feedback on your assignments in order to see what you’ve done well and what you might need to improve.
  • To demonstrate to the University that you’ve met the requirements of the module by completing all the compulsory assessment tasks and achieving a minimum mark to pass.

The following are the main types of assessment you may encounter at the OU. If your module website is open you can look in the ‘Assessment’ section to see what assessments you have.

TMAs (tutor-marked assignments)

Tutor-marked assignments are spread across the study time for your module. You will be given time in your study planner to prepare your TMA, and guidance to help you. Your allocated tutor will provide feedback and a mark for TMAs. Tutors use detailed marking guidelines to ensure consistency. Your tutor will return your marked TMA with feedback that will help you focus on areas to develop for future work.

iCMAs (interactive computer-marked assignments)

Modules may also use iCMAs as part of assessment. As with TMAs they are designed to help you learn. Many of them give you instant feedback, and if you haven’t answered the question correctly you may also be given the chance to try again.

If your module uses iCMAs you will be able to locate them in the Assessment section on your module website.

Exams, EMAs and emTMAs

At the end of each module you’ll undertake a final assessed task. This task will be one of the following:

  1. Exam
  2. EMA
  3. emTMA

There is lots of information and support available to you when preparing for your final assessed task through your tutor and the Student Support Team. Information on revision tips and techniques, through to the practical arrangements for exams can also be found on the Help Centre.


Normally, exams are three hours in length and take place at an exam centre.

If you have an exam on a module you’ll get the specific date, time and location of an exam around 12 weeks before the exam date on your module record page. If you need to take your exam in a different location to the one you are allocated to you can request this, but you need to do it by the deadline published on the Help Centre.

If you have declared a disability to the University, we’ll be able to make adjustments and special arrangements if you require them. You need to contact us a few months in advance to make sure this can be organised in time.

Note for 2021/22:

All exams held through to 31 December 2022 will be delivered as remote exams which you will take at home. Exams scheduled beyond 31 December 2022 may be held in an exam centre or may be a remote exam. We’ll confirm this as soon as possible.

EMAs (end-of-module assessments)

An EMA is a larger assignment you do at the end of a module and is completed and submitted in a similar way to TMAs but brings together what you’ve learned across the module.

emTMAs (end-of-module TMAs)

An emTMA is an assignment that is marked by your tutor and will count towards your overall module score.

The Assessment Handbook

You’ll get more information about assessment requirements when you start your module, so you don’t need to worry too much about the detail now. The Assessment Handbook [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] covers all the rules and policies relevant to assessment at The Open University and is a really useful resource for all things assessment – you might want to bookmark a link to this.