It is important that you know what to expect when sitting your examinations and what to do in and around them. This guide is intended to answer any questions you may have, however there may be additional queries not answered here, if so please visit your schools’ exams office.

Preparing for your examinations

Subject teachers are available to assist in the preparation for your examinations, ask about what topics are needed for each paper.

  • Extra lessons may be available during lunchtime, at the beginning or end of the day. Find out about these and attend them.
  • When you are given your exam timetable check it carefully. Make sure you have been entered for the right exams at the right level. Make sure your personal details are correct.
  • Remember to use your legal name in all examinations and controlled assessments and not the name that you are known by in school.
  • Take the timetable home, pin it up where you will see it every day. Take a photo on your phone and/or photocopy it if you can.
  • If there is anything you are unsure about, ask!

Sitting examinations

  • You are required to be in full school uniform for all examinations.
  • Check your exam timetable every evening to make sure you know whether you have an examination the following day.
  • Prepare what you need for the exam the evening before. Pack your equipment, ensuring you have everything you need.
  • Make sure you go to bed early; you will not do your best if you are tired.
  • Have something to eat and drink before the examination; you will not do your best if you are hungry.
  • Make sure you know where you are sitting for each exam as you will not be in the same seat each time. If you are not sure there will be a seating plan for the current day on display outside the Exams Office. • IMPORTANT – please do not write your seat number on your hand or arm.
  • Morning examinations start at 9:15 and afternoon examinations start at 1:15pm; make sure you are in school in plenty of time. A late arrival does not put you in the right frame of mind to do your best.
  • Visit the toilet before entering the examination room; you will only be allowed out of the venue in a real emergency and will need to be escorted by an invigilator.
  • When in an examination you must remain silent at all times, facing the front of the room. Any indication of an attempt to communicate with other candidates may result in your papers being cancelled.
  • You may bring a bottle of water into the examination but the bottle must be clear with the label removed. The bottle must be kept under your desk.
  • If you have any query during the examination, raise your hand to attract the attention of the invigilator then ask.
  • Invigilators cannot help you with how to answer questions or what the questions mean – you have to read the question and decide how best to answer it. If you are not sure, have a go! You don’t get marks for leaving the answer blank.


  • Make sure you have something to eat and drink before an examination

Electronic equipment

  • The examination boards have strict regulations which we must follow at all times.
  • Mobile phones, iPads, MP3 players and smart watches are banned from all exam venues and all watches must be removed and handed in. If you are found in possession of any of these or we find one left in your bag during an examination you are breaking JCQ regulations and a malpractice report will be sent to the exam board. This usually results in you being disqualified from that examination and possibly any subsequent examinations with that exam board.
  • You will be given an opportunity before every exam to hand in any electronic equipment.
  • The school takes no responsibility for equipment brought on site.


  • Hopefully you will be in good health throughout the exam period, however, if you are extremely unwell you need to speak to someone in school as early as possible. Remember that you cannot sit the paper on another day or at another time and the exam will not be available to take again – the whole course will have to be re-taken.
  • You must notify the school by 8:15 on the day of your exam, giving as much information as possible. If necessary we can seat you in an alternative room.
  • You will need to see a doctor after your exam to obtain a medical certificate. This should include the name, address and signature of the doctor as well as your name, date of birth and the reason. You must bring this to the Exams Office within 48 hours. The medical certificate can be submitted in order to request special considerations from the Exam Board.
  • If you are concerned that you will not be able to do your best because of issues other than illness, you should discuss this with the examinations team as soon as possible before the day of your exam.
  • You may be asked to leave your number for a member of the exams team to call you back.


  • Unfortunately sometimes examinations are scheduled on the same day, at the same time. If this occurs you will be given clear instructions as to when each exam will take place.
  • You may sit both papers back to back (with a short break) or one paper may need to be moved from morning to afternoon or vice versa; if this happens you will be supervised during this period and will not have access to mobile phones or other students. We recommend you bring a packed lunch. More information will be provided nearer the time.
  • Any changes to start times and/or rooms due to clashes will be on your personalised timetable – you must follow this information and if you have any queries discuss it with the Exams Officer.


You are expected to provide your own equipment. This must include BLACK pens, pencils, ruler and eraser. For Science, Maths and Business Studies this may include a calculator and a protractor and compass. You will be informed by your subject teacher what equipment you need to bring to their exam.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if I lose my exam timetable?
When you are given your exam timetable we suggest that you photocopy it or take a photo of it on your mobile phone, you can then keep a copy at home. A copy of your exam timetable will also be included in your booster timetable booklet. If you lose your timetable completely you can get a replacement copy from your form tutor (they may ask you to write the information directly in your planner).

What happens if I am late?
Each examination has a set start time. Do everything you can to be on time, if possible be early. If you are going to be late try to let school know. When you arrive go straight to the reception. Provided you arrive within the allocated window of time you will be allowed to enter.

I am not sure whether I need a calculator or not?
Check with subject staff in advance. They should know whether a calculator is permitted or not. If in doubt put it in your bag anyway.

The person sitting next to me is distracting me!
Put up your hand and tell the invigilator. They will deal with it for you. Do NOT be tempted to speak to the candidate yourself as it will jeopardise your papers.

What if I get thirsty?
You may take a bottle of water in with you but it must be a clear bottle with no writing on it. You are advised to keep it on the floor to minimise the likelihood of spilling water on your paper.

Why do I need a black pen?
Many of the papers are now sent electronically to the markers and black ink gives the clearest copies for this process. You need your work to be as easy to read as possible.

How do I know what to do in the examination?
The instructions will be on the front of the paper and you will be given time at the start of the examination to read these. Make sure you know how many questions to do. If the paper is in different sections make sure you know how many questions from each section and the time recommendations. If there are specific instructions, such as the correcting of answers, make sure you know the level of accuracy required. You will have done practice papers with your teachers so should be familiar with what is required.

What happens if I feel unwell before or in an examination?
Tell the invigilator. It may be possible to move you to a seat near a door if you are likely to need to go out. If you do have to go out an invigilator will need to accompany you. It may be necessary for you to obtain a medical certificate in order that special considerations can be applied for. The examination officer will advise you on this.

I have overslept and will be late for my exam – should I stay at home?
NO! Call the School immediately and you will be given advice. You do need to get in as quickly as possible.

I have finished my exam early; can I leave and go home?
NO! The School does not allow students to leave the examination room early.

The amount of time allocated to each examination is the amount of time it should take to complete it. If you finish, check through your answers, read the instructions again on the front of the paper and make sure you have answered the correct number of questions from the right sections.