Guidance for staff on student administration and support
Information relating to the Coronavirus pandemic
For the most up-to-date advice and guidance about policies and processes relating to Examinations and Assessments, please refer to the following webpages:
Advice for student-facing staff: https://academic.admin.ox.ac.uk/coronavirus
Advice for students: https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/coronavirus-advice
The Examinations and Assessments Framework (EAF) has been updated to reflect changes implemented due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
There are several stages of administration leading up to and following examination days:
The responsibility for timetabling lies with the Head of Examinations and Assessments, in consultation with the PVC (Education) and the Proctors.
Draft examination timetables are emailed to the Chair of Examiners, and copied to the Administrator, after examination entry statistics are issued by the Academic Records Office (ARO).
Information regarding the timetabling of papers shared with, or overlapping with, those in other examinations should be provided at the earliest opportunity and ideally no later than the release of the examination entries.
The draft timetable will take into account the options chosen by the candidates to avoid clashes in examinations and, where possible, the alternative arrangements that have been approved for candidates. The Head of Examinations and Assessments will take into account the space available to host the examinations at any given point as well as the equipment (e.g. computers required for candidates with permission to type their answers) and materials available. The timetable will not, therefore, necessarily resemble closely the timetable for the previous year.
Examinations which have special requirements, whether in timetabling (e.g. reading time) or the provision of materials (e.g. tables, reference books, tracing paper) should be agreed by the examiners (including those in joint schools with which papers may be shared), at their initial meeting. A schedule of materials previously used by the examination will be provided by the Head of Examinations and Assessments when the draft timetable is issued; this schedule, amended if necessary, and any other information should then be returned to the Head of Examinations and Assessments as soon as possible.
After considering the draft timetable, chairs should inform the Examinations and Assessments team of any errors, excessive demands on individual candidates, or other matters that may require amendments to be made. Chairs should give particular thought to the timetabling of papers shared with, or overlapping with, those in other examinations. If it appears desirable to change the provisional timing of a paper that is shared between two or more schools, the other chairs must be consulted before the request is made to the timetabling team. Re-timetabling that would produce extended supervision of candidates should be avoided wherever possible.
If confirmation of a draft timetable is not received by five weeks before the first examination, the Head of Examinations and Assessments will deem the timetable as publishable.
The target publication date is no later than five weeks before the date of the first paper, and chairs should make sure that the draft timetable and all necessary alterations have been returned to the Examinations and Assessments team in time to achieve this. Examiners should note that the venue for candidates with alternative examination arrangements will be either in the Alternative Arrangements Room or Computer Suite of the Examination Schools during main examination periods (in Ewert House for September resits and occasional examinations outside the main periods) or in colleges. The individual timetables published to students will include a note about venues for these cases.
The Examination and Assessments team will normally provide to each candidate, no later than two weeks before the examination begins, an individual timetable listing their candidate number and the times, dates and locations of the papers for which they have been entered. The individual timetable will be provided electronically via eVision.
The instructions which follow are particularly important. Examiners who hand in copies of question papers late or whose papers contain inaccuracies heighten the potential for error to be introduced or go undetected. The Examination and Assessments team is instructed to notify the Proctors of examiners failing to comply.
Chairs are asked to ensure that the rubric and the content of questions are double-checked before each paper for a timed examination is submitted to the Examinations and Assessments team. Examples of common problems include:
Examiners are responsible for producing camera-ready copy (CRC) of examination papers; that is, a final master which is completely ready for reproduction. Chairs of examiners should ensure that papers are set to a timetable that allows sufficient time to prepare accurate CRC which has been approved by all examiners and can be delivered to Examination Schools on time (Examination Regulations, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 8, cl. 8.2-8.4). The Head of Examinations and Assessments is responsible for printing the bulk copies required for the examination, and (once the examination is complete) for the publication of papers on the OXAM website.
The production of CRC (typing, layout, etc.) should be done either by examiners themselves or by departmental and faculty staff in normal working time. In exceptional circumstances the Proctors may authorise payments for overtime worked by departmental and faculty staff in the production of CRC, provided approval is sought well in advance from the Proctors. Where prior approval has been given by the Proctors, claims to cover the cost of production of papers must be made on a form supplied by the Head of Examinations and Assessments. The claim must include details of the number of hours worked and the number of pages prepared. All such claims must be submitted via the chair to the Head of Examinations and Assessments as early as possible.
Persons preparing examination papers should ensure that no-one can enter their room and observe examination material on a screen or in paper form on a desk or printer. Staff should take particular care when processing examination material outside the workplace e.g. in public places or on public transport. Any electronic device containing or linking to examination material should have properly implemented security measures that are proportionate to the anticipated risks. These may include passwords, password-protected screensavers, biometric security mechanisms and encryption. Advice on the encryption and decryption of examination papers may be obtained from IT Services. Printed copies of draft examination papers should be securely destroyed (shredded) immediately after use. If they must be kept in paper form, for example between examiners’ meetings, they should be stored in locked filing cabinets.
The Proctors should be notified at once if any breach of security is suspected. It is essential that back-ups are maintained and that there is good control over versions of draft papers. Any media storing backed-up papers must be kept secure.
Paper drafts should be transported between examiners by hand, or sent by Special Delivery. Questions, and question papers, should not be sent electronically unless encrypted. No electronic transmissions should be made without previously informing the Proctors. WebLearn is available to aid boards of examiners in sharing draft examination papers during paper preparation, using authorised additional verification sites only, and the chair should contact the Head of Examinations and Assessments to request inclusion and discuss the practicalities of implementation.
Any exception to these rules must be agreed in advance by the Proctors, who will need to be convinced (taking technical advice if necessary) that it will cause no breach in security.
The attention of all examiners is drawn to their obligation to keep all question papers strictly confidential. In no circumstances should details of the questions or the discussion of papers at examiners’ meetings be disclosed to anyone other than examiners, properly appointed assessors, and, if required, the PVC (Education) and Proctors.
Under no circumstance should examination questions be substantially the same as sample questions made available to candidates before the examination. If tutors have been asked to suggest questions for an examination, it should be made clear that such questions must not be used in tutorials or classes, nor should sample solutions be provided to candidates in advance of the exam. Special care should be taken where an examiner or assessor runs revision classes. Evidence of such similarities will be brought to the Proctors’ attention and may result in the striking out of the compromised paper from the examination.
The Camera Ready Copy (CRC) should be submitted no less than five weeks before the first day of the examination.
ALTERNATIVE ARRANGEMENT PAPERS (e.g. font size 14, double spacing) should be provided at the same time as the standard examination paper 5 weeks before the day of the examination.
BRAILLED PAPERS are required nine weeks in advance.
Electronic copies may be submitted on a USB stick or through a secure WebLearn site. Electronic copies should be in Portable Document Format (PDF) and saved as the assessment item number (e.g. A12345W1). If submitting CRC via WebLearn, all copies should be saved in a folder specifically for the Examination Schools and clear instructions should be provided as to where the folder can be found. Only the final version should be saved in this folder, and only after it has gone through a rigorous checking process by the department/faculty.
Electronic copies of papers should never be emailed or uploaded via a standard Weblearn site.
Hard copies may be submitted by placing two camera ready copies into a plastic wallet and submitted to the Examination Operations Supervisor. Hard copies should not be photocopies. Hard copies may be delivered Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Details of any special printing or reproduction requirements (e.g. punched hole in question paper, photographs to be reproduced, colour images) should be submitted alongside the CRC. Examiners should note that reproduced photographs and images may not be as clear as the originals, and should check legibility on the version to be given to the candidates (not CRC) in good time.
In the case of papers for Joint degrees or dual reference exam papers, examiners should discuss which department is responsible for submitting the examination paper, in order to avoid both departments submitting the same paper.
Camera ready copies should be on A4 paper, printed single sided. Papers should not be stapled.
Care should be taken to make sure that the margins are no smaller than 26 mm or 2.6 cm at the top and bottom of the page and 21 mm or 2.1 cm at the left and right sides of the page.
The cover page should not contain any questions, only headers and rubric, including information on any materials or special stationery provided, and, where appropriate, any items which the candidate is permitted to bring, e.g. calculator and any materials that are being provided with the exam paper (e.g. Law Statutes).
It should have the paper reference number (as shown on the entry statistics, (e.g. A12345W1) at the top left-hand corner. The title(s) of the examination(s) and the paper title(s) should be stated clearly.
Case studies and other attachments should be listed on the cover page. The cover must state “Please do not turn over until told to do so.”
The reference number should be included at the bottom left-hand corner of the second and all subsequent pages.
The sequence of page numbers starts with the front (cover) page, which is page 1. Page numbers should appear in the centre of the bottom line.
The instruction ‘turn over’ should appear on page 3 and if necessary on every subsequent odd-numbered page, placed at the bottom right-hand corner, within the typing area described above. Blank pages and the last page should be identified as such.
If a page has been intentionally left blank, this should be stated clearly on the paper.
If candidates are expected to write on the paper, this should be clearly stated on the cover and a space should be left on the top right of the cover asking candidates to write their candidate number. This is not required if candidates are expected to write their answers in script booklets.
Please see the example of how a CRC copy should look. You may wish to refer to OXAM to check on how past exam papers have been formatted.
Papers will be produced directly from CRC without enlargement or reduction. Copy should be as clear as possible, as there may be a slight loss of quality on reproduction. Best results are obtained by submitting the CRC electronically or by using a word-processor with a laser-quality printer. If images need to be reproduced to photographic quality, this should be notified clearly to the Examinations and Assessments team at the time of submission of the paper.
To improve the accessibility of papers, a sans serif font should be used of at least size 12. Text should be left aligned rather than justified. It is recommended that the use of italics, underlining and capitalisation of text is minimised as far as is possible.
If appropriate software is not available, drawings, symbols, accents, etc. may be added in black ink, using a fine pen. It may be best to produce diagrams (or passages of foreign-language text, etc.) separately and then paste them into position in the text (avoiding any surplus glue that might show on final copies).
In the interest of security, copies of the reproduced papers will be retained at all times within the Examinations Schools and cannot be sent to chairs for checking. Chairs who wish to inspect papers at the Examination Schools should arrange this in advance by email (email@example.com). Inspections are by appointment only. It is important that papers containing complex or colour images be checked well before the examination is scheduled to take place.
All printed papers will be held until the date of the examination by the Head of Examinations and Assessments. If papers are to be sent elsewhere (e.g. a practical paper taken in a laboratory), this should be discussed with the Head of Examinations and Assessments when the CRC is submitted.
Invigilators for exams taking place at the Examination Schools (or Ewert House) are recruited externally from the University and trained annually by the Examination Operations Team.
Invigilators’ duties include:
These invigilators also cover the rooms for candidates with extra writing time and the word processing suite.
The Examinations and Assessments team will provide guidance on who may invigilate in these circumstances and training on what the invigilator is required to do
Graduate students who are interested in becoming an Invigilator must hold Probationer Research Student status or status for one of the following degrees: M.Sc. by Research, M.Litt., or D.Phil.
All invigilators must have received appropriate training from the Examinations and Assessments team, at least once every three years. Colleges must obtain approval of the invigilator(s) from the Proctors via the Examinations and Assessments team for each college examination sitting. The aim must be to ensure that the examination is conducted under similar conditions to those in the Examination Schools. One of the Proctors may attend at any point.
Administrative and academic staff are welcome to become invigilators, but must attend College Invigilation training, held by the Examination Operations team every three years.
College invigilator training sessions are held in Hilary term each year. Further information is available on the College Invigilation WebLearn site including lists of approved invigilators and training documentation.
Exam day: examiner attendance and script delivery
The Examination Operations team is responsible for the management of examination days. This typically involves preparing examination rooms for examination sittings, confirming the identity of every candidate sitting an examination, ensuring examination regulations are adhered to, and reporting any cases where regulations have not been adhered to, and script control and delivery. The team are also responsible for contacting colleges regarding candidates missing from their examination, managing arrangements for candidates with alternative exam provisions, last minute changes to examination arrangements (incl. alternative arrangements) and resolving paper queries and corrections.
Chairs must arrange for an examiner or assessor to be present for half an hour at the start of an examination to address any questions concerning the paper. Examiners should arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of the examination.
Examiners attending for the first half an hour of an examination must present themselves at the examination venue in academic dress (i.e. gown and hood) and formal clothing; this may include ‘subfusc’ clothing but this is not required.
Examiners are not permitted in the Extra Time Room, Computer Suite or any exam happening in College whilst there are any candidates in those rooms.
Chairs of Examiners, Internal Examiners, and Assessors, are reminded that they do not perform invigilation duties at examinations, but are defined as ‘Examiners in attendance’. Invigilation duties are conducted by professionally employed and trained invigilators. Invigilators are led by a Senior Invigilator and are supported by staff from the Examination Schools. Invigilators are responsible for matters relating to the invigilation of the examination, the conduct of candidates, and the administrative procedures necessary for each examination session.
Duties of attending Examiners
Please consult the timetables in the hall of the exam venue, or introduce yourself to Exams team staff in the Examinations Schools/Ewert House for directions to the examination room. During the peak Trinity Term exam period – a list of the location of each exam paper will be available in the Main Hall to help examiners/assessors to locate their examination. Once inside the examination room, introduce yourself to the Senior Invigilator. The priority for Invigilators before the start of the exams is to ensure that the room is ready for the candidates – you may have to wait until they have finished before they have time to deal with any queries you may have.
If a mobile phone is on your possession whilst inside or near the examination room (and the building and corridors as a whole), then you must power-off your phone. Keeping your mobile phone on ‘vibrate’ mode will still be disruptive to the examination. If the phone activates during the examination, the incident will be reported. The candidates themselves are prohibited from bringing mobile phones into the examination room.
Any queries that you might have regarding the processes of the examination, invigilation, candidates’ behaviour, or administrative procedures, must be directed at the Senior Invigilator or a member of the Examination Operations Team.
Chairs, Examiners and Assessors are requested not to ‘walk the aisles’ during the examination. This should be left to the invigilators. This will therefore reduce unnecessary travelling up and down of the aisles, minimising any disturbance to candidates. Refraining from walking the aisles will also maintain the blind marking standard – maintaining the separation between the candidate’s identity from that of their candidate number. Conversely, protecting the marker from any potential accusations of biased marking.
You may sit at spare desks, if any are available, although we suggest that you do not sit directly adjacent to any candidates. If a candidate has a question during the examination, an invigilator will attend to the candidate. If the candidate’s query relates to a question on the examination paper, then an invigilator will invite you to attend to the candidate directly. Whatever the result of the candidate’s query, and your reply, however trivial it may seem, please convey a description to the Senior Invigilator.
You are requested to not remove any materials from the candidates’ desks, before, during, or after the examination. Even if such materials are perceived as litter, or you simply want to help the invigilators clear up after an examination. By removing items, you may unintentionally remove an item from the sequence of desks that otherwise could help solve a problem. Such as indicating to whom a missing script might belong to, to whom lost property may belong to, or affect the method of proper collection and sorting of waste materials from that of re-usable materials, or affect the necessary screening checks for annotations made to re-usable examination materials.
If a candidate has a query on the examination paper and you are still in the room then either the Senior Invigilator will provide you with a copy of the query for you to check or you will be asked to speak to the candidate directly. If there is a query when you have left the examination room then you will be contacted by phone.
If the question paper is discovered to have an error then Examiners are reminded that the announcement of changes to or interpretations of examination papers must be heard by all the candidates taking that paper. It is vital that any advice given to any individual candidate about the question paper must be communicated to all candidates, including those sitting examinations in colleges. Inconsistency of treatment, however apparently trivial, may give rise to complaints. When you are attending for a course where there are candidates taking several different papers or it is a paper where several people have participated in setting questions, then you must know how the other examiners can be contacted directly by telephone, at the time required.
Since candidates are most likely to get prompt answers to any queries raised when the examiner is present in the examination room, you should let the Senior Invigilator know how long you intend to be present for; this must be for at least the first half hour. If the numbers of candidates is such that they have had to be accommodated in more than one room, then let the invigilators or the Examination and Assessments team know which of the rooms you will be located in.
For particularly complex papers, you may wish to remain at the examination venue for the duration of the examination paper in order to respond to queries raised. In such cases, it is helpful if you could let the Senior Invigilator know that you intend to stay for the duration.
All corrections to or clarifications of examination papers must be reported immediately to the Senior Invigilator, so that the information can be conveyed to colleges or other locations where candidates are taking papers under alternative arrangements, and be logged. Examiners should not seek to convey this information themselves.
Working from a laptop or marking scripts and coursework is not permitted in the examination room. ‘Subtle’ reading is permitted, on the basis that whatever is read does not involve the rustling of paper, which would disturb candidates.
Examiners should ensure that they remain quiet when leaving the examination room after the first half hour to avoid disturbing candidates still taking their examinations.
If a candidate approaches you directly with a query, which relates to any processes of the examination, for example – ‘Which materials are allowed in the examination?’ ‘Can I be seated elsewhere?’ ‘I’m feeling unwell, what should I do?’ ‘Can a window be opened?’ et cetera. Please simply refer the candidate to the Senior Invigilator. Giving the wrong advice will hinder the candidate and might disadvantage other candidates.
You are requested to not sort scripts or collect scripts until the invigilators have concluded with their own checking procedures. Only when the Senior Invigilator has completed to their satisfaction the sorting of, checking, and collating of examination scripts, can scripts be handed over to Examiners and Assessors to take away for marking. Importantly, when handed these scripts, the Senior Invigilator will ensure that you sign the ‘script control form’ to record that you have securely taken receipt of your scripts (and have collected the correct package of scripts intended for you). You should ensure that you have your University ID Card on you as you will be asked for this if you are collecting the scripts from the exam room or from the exam office.
Scripts for candidates taking the paper outside of the main exam room (i.e. those taking it in College, the Extra Time Room or Computer Suite) can be collected at the following times:
Morning Examinations: can normally be collected after 4pm the same day;Afternoon Examinations: can normally be collected after 11am the following morning.
Scripts will need to be signed for and a valid University ID card will need to be shown.
The Examinations and Assessments team can arrange for delivery of scripts direct to markers or to departments. Delivery information must be provided at least one week in advance of the exam/s taking place, ideally at the time of confirming the timetable if possible, and deliveries are only authorised to college or department addresses within central Oxford. Scripts from extra time, Computer suite and college sittings will be included, unless a candidate has exceptional permission to delay their sitting substantially. Scripts are normally delivered within 24 hours of the completion of the examination. Scripts will need to be signed for on receipt.
Scripts from examinations sat at Ewert House can be collected immediately following the examination. Alternatively they will be returned to Examination Schools for delivery or to await collection; an additional 24 hours delay should be expected.
Chairs are reminded that, where the Regulations require it, they must issue a list of calculators that are permitted. This list should be sent to all candidates as close as possible to the start of the academic year in which they are sitting their examinations. It should also be copied to the Head of Examinations and Assessments. Information on the type of calculator permitted is given in the Examination Regulations (Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 10, cl. 10.4). Where no list of permitted calculators has been provided to the Head of Examinations and Assessment it will be the department’s responsibility to check that any calculator brought into the examination by the candidate is authorised for that examination.
A log-sheet is provided in each examination room and will be used by those invigilating the examination to record any incident (and its time) which the examiners or the Proctors may need to consider later in the examining process. Log-sheets will be held in the Examination Schools and will be made available to boards of examiners on request. Where the log refers to a medical incident, chairs of examiners should not take this into account unless separate medical evidence has been provided through the mitigating circumstances notices to examiners process.
If you have any queries regarding examination days, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For resits where only a subset of papers are taken, the chair may nominate a subset of the original examiners. An external examiner, if appropriate, must be included in this subset.
The Examiner Appointment and Payment team MUST be notified if a reduced board is to be used; a nomination form for this purpose is available on the Examiners WebLearn site (Resources > For Administrators). Individuals who have previously been approved as assessors will require further approval if they are to act as examiners on the reduced board. Failure to notify the Examiners team will delay release of results and payment of examiners.
More information is available in the Examinations and assessments framework (EAF).
The Exam Administration and Services Team coordinates transcription sessions of illegible examination scripts, providing accommodation and trained invigilation and typing staff. Further information relating to booking a transcription session is available in the College Transcription Guidelines.
Students required to transcribe exam scripts must pay an administrative fee of £40.00 ahead of the transcription session plus the invigilator and typist time at £12.00 per hour each for the invigilator and the typist, totalling £24 per hour. Payments should be made via the Transcription online shop.
The University's central examination script and submission archive store is located at the Examination Schools. Archived work is typically held for 6 months after results depending on the duration and structure of the course.
Students are not permitted to view or retrieve examination scripts or submitted work. Appeals regarding marks or results should be made via the Proctors. Data Protection requests to view comments should be made via Council Secretariat and carry a £10.00 administration fee. Comments held on candidates should be retained by the relevant department.
Examiners/Departments submitting work should ensure that:
Examinations and assessments framework (EAF) provides clarity on department responsibilities for the retention of examination scripts and submissions in the event of an academic appeal or complaint by a candidate. The Proctors’ Office will notify the relevant department on receipt of a complaint or appeal, confirming that all of the papers completed by the candidate in that academic year should be located and retained. Please refer to the script archive guidance when preparing work for storage.
Related documents: Script Archive Guidance
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