After the exam entry statistics have been released, the Exam Operations team will prepare them and email draft timetables to the Chair of Examiners and Administrator.
Draft timetables must be checked thoroughly and then confirmed with the Operations Team.
Approved timetables are then published on the Oxford Students website and individual timetables are made available to students.
What departments/examiners need to do
At the initial examiners meeting:
Ensure that examiners agree any special exam requirements, such as timetabling (e.g. reading time), provision of materials (e.g. reference books or tables), including those in joint schools with which papers may be shared.
By the release of the exam entries:
Provide details of papers with shared or overlapping content to the Exam Operations team.
Provide any requested preferences for paper placement in a timetable (e.g. please place Paper A before paper B). We cannot, however, guarantee that a particular preference will be met.
After receiving draft timetables:
Check the draft timetable for any errors, excessive demands on individual candidates, or other matters that may require amendments to be made.
Check the timetabling of papers with shared or overlapping content.
If changes are required to the provisional timing of a paper shared between two or more schools, the other chairs must be consulted before requesting to the Exam Operations team.
Check and amend the schedule of materials and return with any other relevant information to the Exam Operations team.
Chairs must approve draft timetables and confirm any necessary alterations to the Exam Operations team in time to make alterations. Timetables will be deemed publishable five weeks before the first exam regardless of confirmation.
NB: Re-timetabling that would produce extended supervision of candidates should be avoided wherever possible.
What the Exam Operations team will do
Draft timetables once the Academic Records Office (ARO) issues exam entry statistics. Please note: drafted timetables incorporate candidate options to avoid clashes, accommodate individual candidate's exam adjustments and manage what exam room and spacing is available. Therefore, draft timetables should not be expected to match any previous year's timetable.
Email draft timetables to the Chair of Examiners copied to the Administrator for approval, together with the schedule of materials previously used by the exam.
Course timetables are published no later than five weeks before the date of the first paper.
Individual timetables are published via eVision no later than two weeks before their exams begin.
Individual timetables contain the candidate number and the times, dates and locations of the papers for which they have been entered.
Examiners should be aware that candidates with alternative exam arrangements may be seated in different venues. These are the Extra Time Room or Computer Suite at the Examination Schools or in colleges.
Departments are responsible for submitting exams papers to the Exams and Assessments Team 5 weeks before the examination takes place. If you are new to submitting exam papers, or haven't done so in a while, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance on the process. It is vital that each paper is thoroughly checked by the department before submitting the exam paper to the Exams and Assessment Team. Academic content i snot checked by the Exams and Assessment Team.
Exams and Assessments is responsible for printing the bulk copies required for the exam, and for uploading exam papers to Inspera, unless the department is authoring the paper directly in Inspera. A guide to how to locally author in Inspera can be found here.
Exams and Assessments will (once the exam is complete) publish papers on the OXAM website.
Schedule the setting of exam papers:
Allow sufficient time to prepare accurate and correctly formatted exam papers.
Ensure papers have been approved by all examiners.
Ensure papers are submitted to the Exams and Assessments team on time.
Exam papers must be delivered to Examination Schools on time (Examination Regulations, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 8, cl. 8.2-8.4).
The production of exam papers (typing, layout, etc.) should be done either by examiners themselves or by departmental and faculty staff in normal working time.
Exam Chairs are responsible for ensuring that exam papers are correct before submitted to the Exams and Assessments team.
Ensure you have checked that:
Paper rubric is correct.
Content of questions are double-checked.
Papers are set in accordance with current syllabus.
Papers contain the correct passages for analysis.
Papers contain clear text and/or images.
Papers do not include questions from recent previous years.
Questions do not contain typographical errors or errors in mathematical formulae.
The information on the cover sheet is correct for the type of exam e.g. in person or online open book exam paper.
The questions are labelled correctly and make sense.
The paper has the correct footers and headers on each page of the paper e.g. page numbers, paper numbers, turn over, last page)
If you are preparing exam papers, you must ensure that:
No-one can enter your room and view exam material on screen or in paper form on a desk or printer.
Particular care is taken when processing exam material outside the workplace e.g. in public places or on public transport.
Electronic devices containing or linking to exam material must be properly secured, such as using passwords, password-protected screensavers, biometric security mechanisms and encryption.
Printed copies of draft exam papers must be securely destroyed (shredded) immediately after use.
Any papers kept in paper form, for example between examiners’ meetings, must be stored in locked filing cabinets.
Exam papers should not be emailed to the Examinations Operations Team and should only be sent electronically using the approved SharePoint site.
The Proctors should be notified at once if any breach of security is suspected.
Storing electronic exam papers:
Back-up copies of exam papers must be maintained.
Draft versions must be clearly controlled and managed.
Any media storing backed-up papers must be kept secure.
Transporting exam papers:
Paper drafts should be transported between examiners by hand, or sent by Special Delivery.
Questions, and question papers, should not be sent electronically unless through the pre-approved methods such as Departmental secure SharePoint site.
Dedicated SharePoint sites are available to aid boards of examiners in sharing draft exam papers during paper preparation, using authorised additional verification sites only.
If you are unsure what your SharePoint site is called, you can email email@example.com to ask for the link. If you do not have access, you will need to contact IT services to be added. The Exam and Assessment Team cannot add participants.
NB: Any exception to these rules must be agreed in advance by the Proctors, subject to investigation that it will cause no breach in security.
Discussing exam papers:
The attention of all examiners is drawn to their obligation to keep all question papers strictly confidential.
Details of the questions or the discussion of papers at examiners’ meetings must not be disclosed to anyone other than examiners, properly appointed assessors, and, if required, the PVC (Education) and Proctors.
Exam questions must not be substantially the same as sample questions made available to candidates before the exam.
Any suggested questions from tutors 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 exam.
- Standard exam papers - 5 weeks before exams.
- Alternative arrangement papers* - 5 weeks before exams.
- Exam papers enquiring conversion to Braille - 9 weeks before exams.
* e.g. specific font size, double spacing etc.
- Papers can be submitted either by USB or the specific departmental SharePoint site for exam papers.
- Electronic copies should be in Portable Document Format (PDF) and saved as the assessment item number (e.g. A12345W1). Additional information such as the title of the paper should not be included in the filename.
- If submitting exam papers via SharePoint, all copies should be saved in the folder specifically for the Examination Schools called 'Final Copies for Exam Schools (Do Not Delete)' 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 different SharePoint site.
Formatting exam papers
- Please see the example of how an Exam Paper should look.
- Past papers are also available on OXAM.
The cover page must not contain any questions.
All Papers – In person and Inspera (excluding locally authored papers) must include:
- Exam paper number code (otherwise known as the assessment item number) should be on the top left corner of the cover page.
- Title of paper should match the name of the paper as listed on the Exam Entry Statistics issued by the Academic Records Office.
- Day, date, year.
- Materials required.
- Rubric – specific instructions to be shown on all papers.
- Page numbers on all pages.
In Person exams only:
- 'Do not turn over until told that you may do so’ – wording to be on front page.
- Start and finish time e.g. Monday 07 June 2023, 09.30 am – 12.30 pm.
- ‘Turn over’ on odd pages from page 3 onwards.
- A space for the candidate number on top left corner of the cover if candidates are expected to answer in the paper instead of a script booklet.
- Question numbers should make sense with the rubric provided.
Online Open Book exams only:
- Opening time e.g. Opening Time: 9:30am/14:30pm, UK time (GMT/BST as appropriate).
- Mode of completion (format in which you will complete this exam): typed/typed with supplementary uploads/upload only).
- If typed: Please emphasise that students should type directly into Inspera and that work not entered into Inspera by the end of the exam duration will not be marked.
- If typed with supplementary uploads: Please state how much of the exam duration students should set aside to scan handwritten work / convert responses to a PDF and upload them to Inspera.
- If there are subsections and candidates are expected to answer in one box per question in Inspera the cover should say: Questions with sub-sections (e.g. Q1a & Q1b) should all be answered in the response box for the corresponding overall question number.
- Question numbers should be in sequence throughout the paper, e.g. Section A Q,1,2,3 Section B, Q,4,5,6 provided candidates are asked to answer their questions in one box per question answered.
- Clear instructions as to how candidates are expected to answer.
- Include information on how to contact the Online Exams Support Desk.
- Top and bottom margins should be no smaller than 26 mm/2.6 cm.
- Left and right side margins should be no smaller than 21 mm/2.1 cm.
- 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).
- 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 exams.
- 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 Exams and Assessments it will be the department’s responsibility to check that any calculator brought into the exam by the candidate is authorised for that exam.
For security, printed copies of 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Inspections are by appointment only.
All printed papers will be held until the date of the examination by the Head of Exams 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 Exams and Assessments when the exam paper is submitted.
Any question papers submitted late or that contain inaccuracies heighten the potential for error to be introduced or go undetected. The Exams and Assessments Team is instructed to notify the Proctors of examiners failing to comply.
Invigilators for exams taking place at the Examination Schools (or Ewert House), and for some exams in departments, and are recruited externally from the University and are trained annually by the Exam Operations Team.
Invigilators’ duties include:
Laying out exam papers and exam materials.
Managing the exam room and invigilating the candidates.
Recording and reporting any incidents during the exam.
Checking candidates’ identity and reporting any absentees.
Collecting exam scripts at the end of the exam.
These invigilators also cover the rooms for candidates with extra writing time and the word processing suite.
Invigilation in college
Invigilators for exams taking place in colleges, for candidates with specific alternative arrangements, are trained by the Exam Operations Team.
Who may invigilate?
Only trained and approved invigilators may invigilate exams in college.
Administrative and academic staff may become invigilators.
Graduate students may become invigilators, but must hold the status of Probationer Research Student, M.Sc. by Research, M.Litt. or D.Phil.
Invigilators must attend training every three years.
A list of approved invigilators is available on the College Invigilation Sharepoint site.
Colleges must obtain approval of the invigilator(s) via the Exams and Support team for each college exam sitting (email@example.com)
The Exams and Assessments team will provide guidance and annual training for invigilators.
Training sessions are held in Hilary term each year. Further information is available on the College Invigilation Sharepoint site including training documentation.
One of the Proctors may attend examinations held in college at any point.
Please refer to the In-person exams guide for candidates for the further guidance on Exam Day protocols.
Prepare exam rooms setting out papers, materials and blank script booklets.
Prepare exam rooms laying out Chromebooks and scanning sheets (for upload/typed with supplementary exams only) for in-person typed exams.
Confirm the identity of every candidate sitting an exam.
Ensure examination regulations are adhered to and report breaches in regulations.
Manage script control and delivery.
Contact colleges regarding missing candidates.
Manage alternative exam arrangements.
Manage a team of professionally employed and trained invigilators.
Each exam room is led by a Senior Invigilator who is responsible for matters relating to the invigilation of the exam, the conduct of candidates, and the administrative procedures necessary for each exam session.
- Only when the Senior Invigilator has completed, to their satisfaction, the sorting of, checking, and collating of exam scripts, can scripts be handed over to the Exams Team and made available for Examiners and Assessors to take away for marking.
- The scripts will be brought to the Exams Team by the invigilators and then collected from them. Do not try to collect the scripts directly from the exam room.
- If collecting scripts from a previous exam session please avoid the busy period around the start of each exam session (i.e. 9.00am – 10.00am or 2.00pm to 3.00pm).
- You will be requested to show your University ID and sign for exam scripts.
- Scripts for candidates taking the paper in another location (e.g. candidates with extra time or who are sitting the exam in college) can be collected at the following times:
- Morning Exams: can normally be collected after 4pm the same day.
- Afternoon Exams: can normally be collected after 11am the following morning.
- The Exams and Assessments team can arrange for delivery of scripts direct to markers or to departments.
- Delivery details are required at least one week in advance of the exams taking place.
- Deliveries are only authorised to college or department addresses within central Oxford.
- Scripts from extra time, Computer suite and college sittings will usually be delivered separately from the main exam room scripts.
- Scripts are normally delivered within 24 hours of the completion of the exam.
- Scripts will need to be signed for on receipt.
- Scripts from exams 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.
- A log-sheet is provided in each exam room and will be used by those invigilating the exam 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.
- Chairs must ensure that examiners are available for invigilation, marking and for the meeting of the board of examiners at the appropriate time. Long vacation resit exams are held in the first two weeks of September at Ewert House.
- Resit exams must cover the same material as the original exam. If the examination regulations have changed, the resit should reflect what the candidate was originally taught.
- Candidates are not permitted to resit an assessment unit that they have passed unless the whole qualification or exam has been failed.
- Draft exam timetables for the September exams are emailed to the Chair of Examiners, and copied to the Administrator, after examination entry statistics are issued by ARO. Chairs are requested to check and confirm the timetable, which will then be published on the Timetables page of the Oxford Students website.
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 department/faculty will provide a suitable secure exam room. If you are unsure as to what constitutes a suitable exams room then please contact the Examination Operations team to discuss (firstname.lastname@example.org). Additional exam rooms may be required for candidates will alternative arrangements.
- The department/faculty will provide enough suitable desks and chairs for each candidate and space these accordingly.
- Candidates must leave their belongings in a dedicated area outside the exam room or separate from the exam space (e.g. in a cordoned-off section of the same room). Candidates are not permitted to access their belongings once they have entered the exam room. Candidates leave personal belongings at their own risk. Details on the items that can be taken into the exam room can be found here: https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/academic/exams/guidance
- The relevant course administrator is responsible for working with examiners to check all paper content and formatting, and to ensure that sufficient copies of the exam paper are printed in good time (at least one week before) the exam date.
- The department is responsible for providing: exam script (answer) booklets (for essay-based papers we recommend at least 6 per candidate); additional materials (case studies, reference sheets etc.); calculators or other equipment required to sit the exam. Exam script booklets can be requested, at least four weeks in advance of the exam, from the Exams and Assessments team.
- Provision needs to be made for additional equipment or a separate room(s) for candidates with approved alternative exam arrangements. Such arrangements include but are not limited to:
- Separate rooms for candidates with specific permissions to sit on their own.
- A computer to allow for candidates with permission to type their exams: one computer per candidate (without internet or network connection, only access to the required word processing software), linked to a non-networked printer so that the exam script can be printed at the end of the exam. Guidance on IT set up for alternative arrangements can be found here: https://academic.admin.ox.ac.uk/files/itconsiderationsforcollegesittingspdf
- Height-adjustable desks and chairs.
- Exam papers printed on specific coloured paper or in braille.
- The exam will be invigilated by the examiners and assessors and at least one invigilator per room, or at least one invigilator per 50 candidates.
- Additional staff, provided by the department, must also be available to assist students who are unwell, wish to use the toilet etc. and to hold/usher out candidates in the period before or after an exam.
- One or two departmental IT technicians will need to set-up the specific computer hardware required for candidates with an alternative arrangement in place to type their exams, and to be on hand during the exam to deal with any technical problems.
- The relevant course administrator is responsible for overseeing exam-day operations to maintain the same standard of exam integrity as arranged at the Examination Schools, including: preparing lists of candidates for the exam; allocating candidates to specific desks; reporting missing candidates; assisting with unknown candidate numbers; checking student ID; relaying exam queries from candidates to examiners and then announcing corrections/clarifications as necessary to the exam room and all other locations where candidates may be sitting the same exam; ensuring student welfare in case of medical issues or panic attacks and arranging for a member of college staff to collect the student if they abandon their exam part-way through.
- A candidate who arrives more than thirty minutes after the time when the exam began should be allowed to attempt the paper, finishing at the same time as the others, but should be advised that the work cannot be taken into consideration without the consent of the Proctors.
- The administrator should report the circumstances to the Proctors’ Office: email@example.com.
- As is normal practice, the department/faculty will receive notice, through the secure EAS Sharepoint site and relevant eVision reports, of any candidates who have approved alternative exam arrangements. This should normally be sent to department/faculty as soon as possible, and not less than seven working days before the first exam. For acute conditions, however, requests may be made at very short notice and even on the day of the exam.
- The relevant course administrator is responsible for ensuring that invigilators are aware of the amount of extra writing time allocated to relevant candidates, and the invigilator is responsible for monitoring this time and alerting the candidate to the usual time warnings. It is preferable that candidates with extra writing time or extra rest time are seated in separate rooms to the other candidates so that they are not disturbed by the other candidates finishing their exam.
- Likewise, where any other alternative arrangement is required (e.g. a need to sit at the front, or back, or by a window), this should be passed to the department/faculty a minimum of 48 hours before the exam.
- Any candidate who for medical or other reasons is required to sit the exam separately should sit their exam in a separate room in the department/faculty if possible, or in College. An additional invigilator is required for each room within the department used by alternative arrangements candidates.
- If a candidate has permission to take their exam in their college then the department should arrange with the relevant college to collect two copies of the exam paper, answer booklets and any supporting materials from the department on the day of the exam. The college will then provide invigilation for the student while the exam is sat in college. The length of time allocated to the exam will be the same unless there are approved extra writing time alternative exam arrangements in place. At the end of the exam, the exam script, together with any booklets used for rough work during the exam, should be returned to the department for collection by one of the examiners.
75 – 81 High Street
Exam Operations: firstname.lastname@example.org
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