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FAQs about Exams

Exam Timetabling

What information will students receive about their examination entries?

When the entries have been entered on the schools computer system, students will receive a Statement of Entry and Individual Timetable detailing the subjects and tiers for which they have been entered. This should be checked and you are asked to inform the school if you believe there are any errors or problems.

These documents serve two purposes:

  1. To check that all entries have been made and are correct
  2. To check that the spelling of names, date of birth and gender are correct.

Once the examination boards have received entries, all amendments will incur late fees, which may be passed onto parents/carers if errors are found after the deadline date for checking of entries.

Also attached will be the Examination Boards' Notices and Warnings to Candidates - Fortismere will strictly adhere to all their rules and regulations.

What happens if a student has more than one exam at the same time?

If a candidate is timetabled to sit two or more exams at the same time this is known as a clash. If these are for the same subject this is intentional on the part of the board and the exams are meant to run one after another. If not, then this should be picked up during the checking process and notified immediately to the Examinations Officer who can grant permission for one of the papers to be taken at a different time on the same day. The candidate will have to remain under supervision between the two papers. In rare cases it may be necessary for a paper to be done the next day and it is a requirement that the candidate is supervised overnight. This is essential to avoid compromising the integrity of the examination and needs to be organised well in advance.

If a candidate has an examination clash they will be supervised over lunchtime. They should bring some revision or reading material and their lunch and a drink, as they will not be allowed to buy food. Even attempting to communicate with any other candidate will invariably result in the loss of all those exams for all of the candidates involved.

Can students take holidays during term time?

Dates for exams are rigidly fixed by the Exam Boards and are subject to change until close to the time that students start study leave. The Examinations Officer will not give actual dates for exams to parents or students in advance, wishing to book holidays. Parents are reminded that they require the Head Teacher's permission to take students out of school and they book holidays during term time at their own risk. It is strongly against good practice, careful preparation and school policy to take holidays in term time.

On the Day

How are students supervised?

Invigilators will supervise students under the direct management of the Exams Officer. Once candidates enter the exam room they must remain supervised and follow the invigilators instructions at all times. The invigilators are experienced in exams procedures and subject to strict regulation, references and police checks. They usually work in teams and can contact the Exams Officer to resolve any issues.

The Invigilators call candidates in by subject, students should find the desk with their candidate card on it.

Exam papers, which may be on the candidate's desk, must not be opened until candidates are advised to do so.

What happens if a student cannot find his/her place in the exam room?

Occasionally problems arise because a student's number card is not where he/she thinks it should be. There are a number of possible reasons for this and the situation has to be investigated. Your son/daughter will be asked to wait at the front for a few moments whilst the invigilator on duty in that venue checks the entry and sorts the problem out with the Exam Officer or Subject Teacher. Every effort is made to keep these problems to a minimum and they will not prejudice any student's chance of taking an examination for which he/she has been entered. Students who have been officially withdrawn from an examination will not be permitted to sit the papers. It is helpful if the candidate has his/her statements of entry with him/her.

What happens if a student is late?

If parents are aware that their son/daughter has got the timing of the examination wrong and has missed the starting time, they should telephone the school immediately and get a message (do not leave a voicemail message) to the Examinations Officer. Depending on how long the exam has been in progress, it may be possible for the candidate to be admitted. However, we are bound by Examination Board regulations on this matter. Normally candidates with a genuine reason and who are brought straight to school may be admitted with the first 30 minutes of the start time, after this time the board will decide whether to accept any paper sat. Candidates who arrive more than 1 hour after the start or after the end of the exam will not be admitted.

What should students bring to the examinations?

Candidates should bring writing equipment, coloured pencils, erasers, calculators etc. in a transparent plastic bag or pencil case. Non-transparent pencil boxes or cases will not be permitted on the examination desk. Pens should be black. Modular papers require the use of a Black Biro Only. Some subject papers will require the use of set texts, and candidates will be advised by their subject teachers about this.

Candidates are responsible for ensuring that they bring everything they need to the examination.

What should candidates not bring with them?

Some items are strictly banned from exam rooms and should not be brought into the examination room under any circumstances. The Exam Boards treat mere possession of these items as an infringement.

Mobile phones, Personal CD/tape/minidisk players - unless permitted for individual language exams.

The use of tippex or correction pens is not permitted. Candidates should cross through work they do not wish to be marked.

Notes, papers and text books etc. are only allowed in certain exams and candidates will be informed by the subject teachers in advance.

Candidates should not bring lucky mascots etc. into the examination room. No food items or chewing gum are allowed.

May students bring a drink?

A small bottle of water (without a label) may be brought into the examination venue, preferably in a sport cap bottle. No fizzy drinks, cans or pouches will be allowed due to the risk of spillage. Drinking too much may cause an issue since candidates may not be allowed to use toilet facilities during short exams due to issues of supervision.

Regulations governing the use of calculators

Some subject papers, especially Maths, explicitly prohibit the use of calculators. Candidates must not have on them or attempt to use any form of calculator for these. Also calculators with any of the following facilities are prohibited:

  • Data banks
  • Dictionaries
  • Language translators
  • Retrieval of text or formulae
  • QWERTY keyboards
  • Built-in symbolic algebra manipulations
  • Symbolic differentiation or integration
  • Capability of remote communication with other machines

The use, or attempted use, of any such calculators will be regarded as malpractice.

Calculators with graphic displays and programmable calculators are permitted if information and/or programs stored in the calculator's memory are cleared before the examination. Retrieval of information and/or programs during the examination is an infringement of the regulations.

Candidates are responsible for clearing any information and/or program before the examination.

What are the regulations regarding mobile phones?

The regulations state that Mobile Phones are not to be brought into examination rooms under any circumstances. This applies to all public and school/mock examinations. They cause disturbance to other candidates if they ring and can present opportunities for malpractice. Any student found to have a phone in the exam room will be reported to the appropriate examination board. Should this happen they are likely to be disqualified from that paper and possibly from the whole examination in that subject. It is a very serious offence and our advice is that the phone should not be brought to school. We can take no responsibility for the security of mobile phones brought to school.

What is meant by Malpractice?

Malpractice is the term that the Exam Boards use for any irregularity, or breach of the regulations of any form. The Exams Officer is required to, and will, report all infringements to the appropriate body and they will decide on what action to take based on the nature of the infringement. There is a tariff system of actions from which they can decide within limits and some infringements carry automatic loss of marks as a minimum penalty. The Exam Boards take the integrity of exams very seriously and it is important that candidates heed the Exam Officers instructions carefully.

What happens if a student does not turn up for an examination?

A student who absents themselves from any examination without presenting a doctor's note or a satisfactory reason for a request for special consideration will receive a grade based only on those elements of the examinations which have been marked.

Parents should be aware that the school will seek to recover the exam fees if a child does not turn up for an examination and parents will be asked for a payment of up to £40 per GCSE subject (depending on Exam Board) and £25 per AS/A2 unit in the event of non-attendance. It is in all our interests to ensure that the school's examination budget is not wasted.

How are exams started?

The Lead Invigilator will usually announce the exam formally, and candidates cautioned that they are subject to the regulations. Any instructions or board notices, changes to papers etc. will be read out and the candidates asked to complete their details on the answer papers.

What standards of behaviour are expected during examinations?

All candidates are given a copy of a 'Notice to Candidates' produced by the Examining Bodies, which gives general guidelines for conduct, which must be observed. The wording of this is included on the back of their timetable or statement of entry.

The school and the examination boards regard breaches of examination regulations very seriously. Parents should please impress on your son/daughter the importance of good behaviour in an examination, as any activities that may disturb or upset other candidates will not be tolerated. The Head of Centre and Examinations Officer have the power to remove disruptive candidates.

Candidates are asked to wait quietly outside the exam venue, and to enter and leave in silence. This avoids disturbance to other candidates and does help to maintain a calm atmosphere for those students who are nervous about their exams.

Candidates who try to communicate with other candidates inside the venue, or who create a disturbance in the examination room will be asked to leave, and the circumstances will be reported to the examination board. This may result in the candidate not receiving a grade for the whole of that examination.

What should students wear for examinations?

We ask for the co-operation of parents in ensuring candidates are correctly dressed as we wish to avoid causing stress to candidates in the examination room by pointing out when they are not in appropriate clothing. Students are subject to the Schools' Policy on dress code and if not dressed properly or modestly will not be permitted to sit exams.

Jackets, jumpers or other clothing are not allowed over the backs of the chairs. Candidates should bring as little as possible in the way of coats and baggage into the examination room. Items of jewellery, such as rings or bracelets should not be worn as they make a noise on the desk and would be deemed a disruption to other candidates, likewise keys around necks.

What do I do if my son/daughter is unwell at the time of one of the examinations?

Even if you would not normally visit your doctor's surgery for minor illnesses it is important that you do so at examination time. Your doctor will advise as to whether your son/daughter is fit to sit the examination. If the candidate takes the paper, your doctor should give you a letter, which the school can forward to the Examination Board asking for special consideration on the grounds of illness. If the candidate is unable through illness to sit a paper the board may, after examining the doctor's letter and any evidence of performance on other papers, decide to award a grade. It is unlikely that an AS grade will be awarded if a unit is missed as the candidate will be expected to re-take it in January/June. It is essential that you see your doctor as soon as possible. Any doctors' letters must be forwarded to the Examination Officerwithout delay, as there is a tight deadline.

Please telephone the school if your son/daughter will not be attending anexamination or if he/she will be present but is unwell. It is often helpful for the invigilator to be aware that a candidate is not feeling well.

Please be aware that any medical certificate must be accompanied by a note detailing the examinations to which it refers and the date on which the papers were sat. We cannot guarantee otherwise that all relevant examinations will be covered.

What do Students do who finish early?

Students should use all of the available time on their exams and spend any time at the end checking their answers. In any event they are not permitted to leave before the duration of the exam. They must sit quietly at their desk so as not to disturb other candidates.

What do I need to do if a student has problems that may affect his/her examination performance?

Some candidates are eligible for extra time or special examination arrangements. These are normally identified by the school and appropriate applications made supported by an Educational Psychologist's report. The Exams Officer and Head of Centre are empowered to grant Extra Time, the provision of a Prompter or similar arrangements, but only given the correct evidence and at their sole discretion. The SEN/Learning Support department will make arrangements for providing any other special assistance and inform the candidates of any special rooming arrangements. Any illness, or family circumstances, which may affect examination performance, arising shortly before or during the exams, should be notified as soon as possible to the Examinations Officer so that an application for special consideration can be made to the boards. Parents should be aware that any adjustment is likely to be small and that no feedback is ever provided.

How can parents best help their son/daughter during the examination period?

Examinations are inevitably a stressful time for some candidates and support from both school and parents can be helpful. The school will provide advice about revision programmes and examination techniques, and if this is followed it should not be necessary for any student to work abnormally long hours during the revision period. It is probably helpful to discuss with your son/daughter how he/she intends to organise revision and to talk through any anxieties about particular techniques or subject matter. Testing knowledge of factual material can benefit the student if such help is requested, but often all that is needed is a quiet place to work and lots of encouragement. Students should get plenty of sleep and some opportunities for relaxation.

After the Exams

AWhat happens about the return of school books and equipment at the end of the examination period?

Students will have been informed by subject departments, of the arrangements for return of books etc. Please ensure that all textbooks and equipment are returned promptly to school.

Letters requesting books, or their replacement cost, are sent home at the end of July.

What can I do if results are substantially different from what is anticipated?

It must be remembered that examinations can only measure performance on the day, and that candidates can do better or worse than anticipated for a variety of reasons. It is advisable to obtain a copy of the script and mark scheme before proceeding to an EAR (enquiry about result) that is very expensive. Details of the procedures and the fees involved are available from the Examinations Officer and the process should be started as soon as possible after consultation with the Head of Department concerned. The final date for submission to the board is 20 September for summer exams and 4 weeks after results for others.

If the results have serious implications for the student's future plans then advice should be sought, in the first instance, from the sixth form team. They will then advise students of outside agencies, for example Connexions.

How do I go about obtaining copies of marked examination scripts?

It is currently possible to have access to marked scripts for most AS/A2 units and some GCSE. You will need to complete a form and pay a fee for each subject/paper. You should be aware that copies of marked scripts prior to an enquiry on results must be ordered within one week of the issue of results. This is not possible for GCSE results.

How do candidates apply to re-sit?

It is possible to re-sit modules; requests to re-sit units must be made via subject departments and accompanied by the appropriate examination fees. Students should discuss their decision to re-sit with their subject teacher or relevant department head, who will need to inform the Exams Officer.

Fees may vary depending on the subject and must be paid by the deadlines set. Refunds are not normally given.

How should fees be paid?

Where students are requesting a chargeable service, fees should be sent/given to the Exams Officer. Cheques, made payable to Fortismere School, should have the students name on the back.

When do students receive certificates?

The examining boards issue certificates well after the examinations have taken place. Students are required to collect all certificates in person. A friend or family member may collect them but only bearing a letter of request signed by the candidate and some form of ID.

Appeals Procedure

The grounds for appeal relate only to the procedures used in arriving at the internal assessment/controlled assessment decision or the production of externally assessed work. There is no appeal against the judgement of the value of the work itself.

The appeal must be made in writing to the School's Examination Officer by 31 May of the year in which the work is to be assessed. The grounds for the appeal must be clearly stated in writing. The candidate is entitled to be supported by a parent/carer/friend.

The Head of Centre, Mrs Helen Anthony, has nominated (Deputy Head) to lead the enquiry. He/she will not have been involved with the original assessment. Any appeal will be considered by at least two members of Fortismere staff who had not previously dealt with the particular case to ensure fairness to all parties.

The panel will examine the evidence for the procedures used in the assessment concerning their appropriateness and their adherence to the requirements of the Awarding Body. The enquiry will be completed by the end of June of that examination series.

The panel's findings will normally be reported back to the candidate and their representatives by the beginning of July.

Records of each appeal request, the evidence and the panel's findings will be kept until the final date for the Enquires about Results for that series and will be made available to the Awarding Body if required.