In-person exams

Please note that additional cleaning and social distancing measures have been put in place owing to Coronavirus. Please refer to the In-person exam guide for candidates for the latest guidance on Exam Day protocols and FAQs. Updated guidance will continue to be communicated consistent with changing government advice.

Timetables

The Exam Operations team emails draft timetables to the Chair of Examiners and Administrators. 

Timetables must be checked thoroughly and then confirmed with the Operations Team. 

Approved timetables are then published on the Oxford Students website.

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What departments/examiners need to do 

At the initial examiners meeting: 

  • Ensure that examiners agree any special exam requirements, such as timetabling (eg reading time), provision of materials (eg 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. 

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.

  • 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.

NB: Drafted timetables incorporate candidate options to avoid clashes, accommodate alternative arrangements and manage equipment and spacing and may not match previous years. 

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. 

 

Papers

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. 

Exams and Assessments is responsible for printing the bulk copies required for the exam. 

Exams and Assessments will (once the exam is complete) publish papers on the OXAM website.

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Schedule the setting of exam papers: 

  • Allow sufficient time to prepare accurate camera-ready copies (CRC).

  • Ensure papers have been approved by all examiners.

  • Ensure papers are submitted to the Exams and Assessments team on time. 

Camera-ready copies (CRC) 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 CRC (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.

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 [Link to IT security pages], 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.

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 encrypted.

  • No electronic transmissions should be made without previously informing the Proctors.

  • WebLearn is available to aid boards of examiners in sharing draft exam papers during paper preparation, using authorised additional verification sites only. Guidelines for getting a Secure Weblearn site set up for this purpose can be found in Secure Weblearn Site Guideline. Applications for sites should be sent to exam.arrangements@admin.ox.ac.uk.

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. 

Deadlines:

  • Camera ready copies (CRC) - 5 weeks before exams.
  • Alternative arrangement papers* - 5 weeks before exams.
  • Braille papers - 9 weeks before exams.

* e.g. font size 14, double spacing 

Submitting electronically: 

  • Papers can be submitted either by USB or WebLearn.

  • 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.

Submitting printed copies: 

  • Submit two camera ready copies in a plastic wallet.

  • Papers must be printed originals not photocopies.

  • Copies must be on A4 paper, printed single sided.

  • Papers must not be stapled.

  • Include details of any special printing or reproduction requirements (e.g. punched hole in question paper, photographs to be reproduced, colour images) alongside the CRC.

  • Joint degrees or dual reference exam papers should which department is responsible for submitting the exam paper to avoid submitting multiple copies of the same paper.

  • Hard copies may be delivered Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to the Exam Operations Team. 

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. 

Formatting exam papers 

Please see the example of how a CRC copy should look.  

Past papers are also available on OXAM

Cover:  

The cover page must not contain any questions

The cover must display: 

  • Paper header (usually containing course title, exam title, paper number, date and time of exam).

  • Exam rubric.

  • Any information on any materials or special stationery provided.

  • 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).

  • The title(s) of the exam(s) and the paper title(s) should be stated clearly.

  • List case studies and other attachments related to the paper.

  • State “Please do not turn over until told to do so.”

  • The paper reference number located in the top left-hand corner, as shown on the entry statistics, e.g. A12345W1.

  • 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. 

Paper: 

  • The paper reference number must 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 center 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.

Formatting: 

  • 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.

  • Papers are produced directly from CRC without enlargement or reduction, submitted printed copies 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 Exams 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). 

Materials 

Calculators  

  • 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.

  • These details should also be copied to the Head of Exams 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 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 (exam.arrangements@admin.ox.ac.uk).

  • 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 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 CRC is submitted. 

Invigilation

Invigilators for exams taking place at the Examination Schools (or Ewert House), and for some exams in departments, are recruited externally from the University and 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 WebLearn site.

  • Colleges must obtain approval of the invigilator(s) via the Exams and Assessments team for each college exam sitting.

Training: 

  • 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 WebLearn site including training documentation.

 
One of the Proctors may attend examinations held in college at any point. 

Exam day

Please note that additional cleaning and social distancing measures have been put in place owing to Coronavirus. Please refer to the In-person exams guide for candidates for the latest guidance on Exam Day protocols. 

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  • Prepare exam rooms setting out papers, materials and blank script booklets.

  • 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 last minute changes to exam arrangements (incl. alternative arrangements) and resolving paper queries and corrections.

  • 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.

  • Chairs must arrange for an examiner or assessor to attend the initial half an hour of an exam to address any questions concerning the paper.

  • Attending examiners should arrive at least 30 minutes before the start of the exam.

  • Attending examiners must wear an academic gown and hood and formal clothing at the exam venue; this may include ‘subfusc’ clothing but other smart clothing is allowed.

  • 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.

  • Attending examiners do not perform invigilation duties at exams, but are defined as ‘Examiners in attendance’.

  • Arrive at the exam at least 30 minutes before the exam commences (ie 9am for 9.30am paper).  

  • Lists of exams and their locations are displayed in the Main Hall at the Examination Schools during peak periods, or ask a member of the Exams team.

  • Introduce yourself to the Senior Invigilator of the exam room. Please be patient as they need to prioritise setting the room up ready for the exam.

  • Conduct last-minute checks of the exam question paper to identify possible errors, reporting any mistakes to the Senior Invigilator immediately.

  • Remain in attendance for at least the first half-hour of the exam in order to answer any candidates’ queries regarding the exam questions.

  • If you are the attending examiner for more than one paper and papers are being sat in different room, please inform the Senior Invigilator which room you will be in should any queries arise on a paper.

  • If multiple errors are identified on a paper it is advised to remain for the entire duration of the exam to address subsequent queries efficiently.

  • Remain contactable for the duration of the exam by phone with a copy of the exam question paper in your possession.

  • For particularly complex papers, you may wish to remain at the exam venue for the duration of the exam paper to respond to queries raised. Please inform the Senior Invigilator if you intend to stay for the duration.

  • Contact details should have been provided to the Exam Operations team for the precise markers (Examiners/Assessors) when confirming script delivery details. If not, the attending examiner is requested to provide these details to the Exam Operations team on the day.

  • If a candidate has a question during the exam, an invigilator will attend to the candidate.

  • If the candidate’s query relates to a question on the exam paper, the 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.

  • Whatever the result of the candidate’s query, and your reply, however trivial it may seem, please convey a description to the Senior Invigilator.

  • If there is a query when you have left the exam room then you will be contacted by phone.

  • The Senior Invigilator will determine how best - with the minimum of disruption - to inform the candidates of any corrections.

  • Any corrections or clarifications to exam papers must be heard by all candidates taking that paper, including those sitting in different locations and be logged.

  • Examiners should not seek to convey this information themselves.

  • The Senior Invigilator will alert Examination Schools’ staff of any corrections, who in turn will inform those candidates sitting their exam elsewhere.

Mobile Phones

  • Ensure your mobile phone is on silent and will not disturb the exam. 

Queries  

  • Any queries regarding the processes of the exam, invigilation, candidates’ behaviour, or administrative procedures, must be directed at the Senior Invigilator or a member of the Exam Operations Team. 

Movement in exam room 

  • Do not ‘walk the aisles’ during the exam. This should be left to the invigilators to reduce any disturbance to candidates and avoid potential accusations of bias marking through candidate identification.

  • You may sit at spare desks, or ask an invigilator where to sit.

  • Do not sit directly adjacent to any candidates. 

Exam materials 

  • Do not remove any materials from the candidates’ desks, before, during, or after the exam. 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 exam materials. 

Working, Marking, or Reading during the Exam

  • Working from a laptop or marking scripts and coursework is not permitted in the exam 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 exam room after the first half hour to avoid disturbing candidates still taking their exams. 

Contact with Candidates at the Exam 

  • Any query from a student must be directed to an invigilator, whether that concerns the paper, they are feeling ill or want to open a window. Incorrect advice may hinder the candidate and disadvantage others. 

Collecting Scripts at the end of the Exam 

  • Do 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 exam scripts, can scripts be handed over to Examiners and Assessors to take away for marking.

  • You will be requested to show your University ID and sign for exam scripts.

  • 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 intended for you).

  • Scripts for candidates taking the paper in another location 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.

Delivery of Scripts after an Exam

  • 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 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 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. 

Log Sheets

  • 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.

Resits

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  • 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).

Departmental exams

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  • The department/faculty will provide a suitable secure exam room. Further details on the format of a suitable room will be provided by the end of June 2020. 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 according to current UK Government social distancing regulations. Desks and chairs should be wiped clean between sittings.
  • 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 (see contact details at the end of this document).
  • 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:
  1. Separate rooms for candidates with specific permissions to sit on their own.
  2. 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
  3. Height-adjustable desks and chairs.
  4. Exam papers printed on specific coloured paper or in braille.
  • One examiner is required to remain in the exam room for the first half hour of the exam, in case there are exam paper queries. If the examiner leaves after the first half hour then they should then remain contactable for the duration of the exam.
  • 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. It is highly unlikely that the bank of invigilators previously trained and used by the Exams and Assessments team will be available in

Michaelmas Term 2020; the department will need to make their own, alternative arrangements for invigilators and ensure they are familiar with the duties and examination regulations. Guidance documents for invigilation will be made available by the Exams and Assessments team by the end of June 2020.

  • 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. All of these activities must be conducted according to current UK Government social distancing regulations.
  • 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 Invigilator should report the circumstances to the Proctors’ Office: examinations@proctors.ox.ac.uk.
  • 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.