Frequently Asked Questions About Taking Exams
Question: Can centres start examinations when they like?
Answer: No, centres can only start examinations 30 minutes earlier or 30 minutes later than the published starting times, unless the centre has varied the timetable for one or more candidates due to a timetable clash.
Question: What is a ‘clash candidate’ and what must an invigilator do with them?
Answer: ‘Clash candidates’ are candidates who have two or more examinations timetabled at the same time. These candidates must be kept under centre supervision at all times during any breaks between examinations.
Question: I have some candidates who will take more than one examination in a session and will start one exam later than the published start time. What do I need to do?
Answer: You must ensure that the candidates are kept under centre supervision from 30 minutes after the published start time for the first exam until they have completed both papers.
Question: Due to heavy rain and a leaking roof, the ceiling in the sports hall collapses in the middle of the June examinations. The head makes arrangements to hold all examinations in the village hall. Is this acceptable?
Answer: Yes, the JCQ Alternative Site form would need to be completed as soon as possible and sent to the JCQ Centre Inspection Service.
Question: What is the primary role of an invigilator?
Answer: Invigilators must ensure the security of the examination, before, during and after the examination, and ensure that candidates have the fairest chance to demonstrate their ability.
The purpose of invigilation is to ensure that every candidate experiences the same exam conditions. In practice, this means making sure that all exams comply with the ‘ICE’ booklet.
Question: How many invigilators are required for practical examinations or on-screen tests?
Answer: There must be at least one invigilator for every 20 candidates at all times.
Question: How many invigilators are required for written examinations?
Answer: There must be at least one invigilator for every 30 candidates at all times.
Question: How many external written examinations can be in progress in one exam room at one time?
Answer As long as the regulations of the JCQ ‘ICE’ booklet are observed at all times, as many as is practical.
Question: How should candidates be seated in the examination room?
Answer: Candidates should be seated in candidate number order, in a ‘snake’ pattern, according to tiers (where applicable).
Question: What should be written on the board/flipchart/whiteboard at the front of the room?
- Centre number
- Subject title
- Paper number
- Start and finish times.
Question: What is an ideal checklist for the exam room?
- Clocks – working order
- Seating – correct number of desks, 1.25 metres apart
- Environment of the room – heating, lighting
- Invigilators’ table
- JCQ Mobile Phone poster outside the exam room (A3 size)
- Warning to Candidates poster outside the exam room (A3 size)
- A copy of the JCQ ‘ICE’ booklet‡ (‡in the main examination hall/room(s) only)
- Any stationery lists or subject-specific instructions issued by the awarding body.
Question: Are there any particular arrangements when a candidate uses a word processor?
Answer: The candidate must record their centre number, candidate number and the unit/component details as a header or footer. The candidate must use page numbers.
A JCQ Word Processor cover sheet (Form 4) must be downloaded from the JCQ website -
http://www.jcq.org.uk/exams-office/ice---instructions-for-conducting-examinations and attached to their typed script.
Question: Can a candidate use his/her own laptop or tablet in a written examination?
Answer: Under no circumstances whatsoever may a candidate use his/her own laptop or tablet in a written examination. The centre must always provide the candidate with a computer, laptop or tablet which is used as per the regulations set out in section 8.8, page 25, of this booklet.
Question: How do we accommodate candidates requiring readers and/or scribes?
Answer: The number of readers and/or scribes present in the room will very much depend on the layout of the room and the particular acoustics.
A normal sized classroom
If a normal sized classroom is used you could have six to seven candidates with readers and/or scribes in one room. With six to seven candidates the background hum stops candidates overhearing one another. (Candidates reading aloud, or using an examination reading pen, can also be accommodated alongside those working with readers and scribes.)
Very large assembly hall/sports hall type venue
In a very large assembly hall/sports hall type venue it would be perfectly acceptable to accommodate large numbers of candidates with readers and/or scribes. The candidates would be sufficiently distanced from others in the hall.
Accommodate candidates in the library
Candidates can sit with their reader and/or scribe in between the book shelves so the sound is dampened. A ‘roaming’ invigilator would be deployed.
An open carpeted area of a library or room
Candidates who only require occasional support from a reader could be seated in an open carpeted area of a library or room, so a ‘roaming’ reader can support the candidates. This reduces both the number of invigilators and readers required.
Sound boards between desks
Another solution is to have sound boards between the desks. This provides a small private area for the candidate and reader and/or scribe to work. Again, a ‘roaming’ invigilator would be deployed.
Accommodate candidates in a dance studio with candidates separated by screens
A further solution would be to use a dance studio with candidates separated by screens. This again provides a small private area for the candidate and the reader and/or scribe to work. A ‘roaming’ invigilator would be deployed.
At the beginning of the examination
Question: What is the procedure for identifying candidates for written examinations?
Answer: Where the head of centre has allowed a senior member of staff, such as an Assistant Headteacher, to be present in the examination room, he/she can identify the candidates as they enter the exam room.
Alternatively, candidate I.D. cards may be on the desks allowing invigilators to identify candidates at the beginning of the examination for their allocated row(s). Appropriate arrangements must be in place to allow invigilators to carry out adequate checks on the identity of all candidates.
Question: How does an invigilator identify external and transferred candidates?
Answer: External and transferred candidates must be asked to bring appropriate identification to their examination(s).
Question: How would an invigilator find out which materials are allowed in the examination room for a particular examination?
- The instructions on the front of the paper;
- Information as provided by the exams officer;
- The JCQ ‘ICE’ booklet;
- Any subject specific instructions as provided by the awarding body.
Question: What should a centre do if a candidate enters the examination room with a mobile phone?
Answer: The candidate must hand in their mobile phone to the invigilator before the examination starts.