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Summary of Procedures for Examinations

Information about Examination Procedures can be found under Teaching on the Departmental Web site. For more detailed information about the Faculty's examination procedures, see the faculty handbooks

The following gives a brief outline of the setting, organisation and marking of examinations within the Department.

Setting Exam Papers

The unit director is responsible for writing the questions or gathering them in from the other lecturers, compiling the paper, deciding on the rubric, and checking the standard, balance, style, appearance of the paper, as well as the wording and the breakdown of marks for each question. Different units have different styles of exam paper (e.g. written or online, one section with equal weighted questions or separate sections with different requirements). Past papers show the style used in a partuicular unit. A unit director will report a change of style to the students. The paper can be prepared using any word processing tool, but should be lodged in PDF in its final form, to ensure consistency of printing.

It is recommended that exam questions should contain both "bookwork" and "problem solving" components. As a rough guide, in a typical question at least half of the marks should be allocated to problems whose solution requires understanding of lecture material rather than its repetition. The marks for essay-type questions should also allow for critical discussion of a topic, or additional reading outside the lectures notes, as well as repetition of lecture material. It is also recommended that questions should vary substantially from year to year. An external examiner checks the questions that have been set.

A model answer is provided for each question, representing what the setter would typically expect from a student scoring maximum marks on that question. Parts of questions which are "bookwork" are written out in full to give the external examiner a clear idea of how much writing a student is expected to do. The model answer includes a marking scheme which is at least as detailed as the marks breakdown on the paper, down to components of no more than 5 marks. Model answers may be handwritten (which gives a good impression of the bulk of writing expected from the students), but must be highly legible and capable of being clearly photocopied, preferably written in black ink. (Handwritten model answers may be typed up later for archive purposes.)

A member of staff other than the unit director provides an independent check of the prepared paper and model answer, including the rubric and wording, ensuring that the paper is clear and unambiguous. The checker may be one of the other lecturers on the same unit; in this case the unit director provides an independent check of the questions set by the checker.

The set of papers and model answers as a whole is checked briefly for consistency of rubric and layout by the exams officer. The papers and model answers are sent to the external examiner for approval, and then to the University Exams Office for printing.

Papers and answers are secret, associated computer files are kept only in secure storage, and all associated paperwork and files are handled with care throughout.

Organisation of Exams

The organisation of the examinations themselves, including invigilation, are handled centrally by the University, and detailed instructions to invigilators are provided. However, a few reminders are included here.

When an exam is being taken, all the lecturers who have provided questions for that unit EITHER invigilate the exam OR are available by phone in their normal offices OR have given a contact phone number OR have provided the name of a substitute who can give authoritative answers to any queries which may be raised.

An invigilator records absences, ensures that no student takes a script out of the exam room, and ensures at the end that the right number of scripts are gathered up in the right order.

Exam Marking

Exam scripts are marked in a reasonably uniform way, to allow for a systematic checking procedure. Marking is done clearly, putting a line down the side of all material which has been marked, or at least putting a mark or tick against each paragraph. The marking scheme in the model answer is followed, or the model answer is updated to match the marking scheme actually used. Half marks may be used for components within a question, but the total for a question is a whole number (often out of 20). The total for each question is ringed where it appears inside the script, and transcribed onto the front of the script. If a student has done more than the required number of questions, the lowest mark is crossed through. The marks are added up and the raw total is written on the front of the script. The total is then entered online, alongside the coursework marks.

The markers then pass the scripts over for checking. In the administrative checking process, each script is checked to see that everything in it has been marked, that the marks for each question have been added up correctly, that the total marks for each question have been correctly transcribed onto the front of the script, that the lowest mark has been crossed through where appropriate, that the total for the script is correct, and that the total on the script agrees with the examination mark entered online.

The unit director then ensures that the correct final picture is presented for each student. This is also checked by the exams officer.