Some students taking their GCSE and AS level exams have been affected by bomb scares. Awarding bodies have in place robust contingency measures to deal with these situations and to ensure students are not disadvantaged or advantaged by the disruption. Schools and colleges affected by a bomb scare, or similar incidences, should refer to the published guidance (copied below) and if they have any questions speak to the relevant awarding body.
All centres are expected to have an emergency evacuation procedure which must be available for inspection purposes. The procedure for the emergency evacuation of the examination room is set out in Section 18 of the JCQ publication Instructions for conducting examinations (as below).
The invigilator must take the following action in an emergency such as a fire alarm or a bomb alert.
- Stop the candidates from writing.
- Collect the attendance register (in order to ensure all candidates are present) and evacuate the examination room in line with the instructions given by the appropriate authority.
- Advise candidates to leave all question papers and scripts in the examination room.
- Candidates should leave the room in silence.
- Make sure that the candidates are supervised as closely as possible while they are out of the examination room to make sure there is no discussion about the examination.
- Make a note of the time of the interruption and how long it lasted.
- Allow the candidates the full working time set for the examination.
- If there are only a few candidates, consider the possibility of taking the candidates (with question papers and scripts) to another place to finish the examination.
- Make a full report of the incident and of the action taken, and send to the relevant awarding body.
Advice: In dealing with emergencies you must be aware of your centre’s policy and the expectations of your Local Authority, where appropriate.
You must have a written centre policy for dealing with an emergency evacuation of the examination room, which will be subject to inspection by the JCQ Centre Inspection Service.
Advice: You may wish to laminate your emergency evacuation procedure and display this in the examination room, using coloured paper to draw attention to it.
Advice: A suggested emergency evacuation procedure for centres to use may be found on the JCQ website -
Centres should submit an application for special consideration in the usual way and should seek further advice and guidance from the relevant awarding body.
Some questions on the paper were too hard or too easy
Question papers are designed to have questions of varying degrees of difficulty to ensure candidates at all levels are able to demonstrate their knowledge. On any question paper there will be some questions that one candidate may find difficult, and another will find easy.
It is important that all candidates do their best to demonstrate their skills and knowledge by taking time to read and understand the instructions on the question paper, by answering the right number of questions as directed, and by showing their working out where they are asked to.
Exam paper errors
When creating exam papers, awarding bodies have thorough checks in place to ensure they are accurate and assess a student’s knowledge fairly. These procedures have been finely tuned over many years, which is why nearly all of the tens of thousands of examination questions published each year are error free. Where a question paper is found to contain an error, the actions taken by awarding bodies will vary according to the specific error, but may include, for example:
- giving all students full marks for the problem question
- removing the problem question from the marking
- adjusting the marks for other questions so that the maximum mark remains the same
- taking into account the impact on the performance of all students taking the paper when setting the grades
Where an individual student may have been so put off by an error that their answers to other questions were affected, schools and colleges are advised to apply for Special Consideration. Special Consideration is a tried and tested system, well known to schools and colleges, for dealing with a wide variety of events that can impact candidates’ performance.
My friend says they saw someone cheating in an exam
If you have seen someone cheating or even if you have only heard a credible rumour regarding cheating in an exam you should tell the exams officer at your school or college so that this can be properly investigated.
The question was impossible to answer due to disability - e.g. colour blindness
If you have a disability, such as a visual impairment, that affected your ability to demonstrate your skills and knowledge during your exam, you must discuss this with the SENCo at your school or college.