Exam preparation guidance

The following guidelines have been provided to help you with the preparation and formatting of exam papers.

  • The rubric should clearly contain the following information:
    • The plagiarism statement. 
    • The full module code of the examination paper, including level and variant (e.g. AB123-4-FY) on the top right-hand corner of every page.
    • The words ‘UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX’ at the top. 
    • A line stating the level of study (i.e. Undergraduate/Postgraduate), year of study (i.e. first year/second year/final year) and the year in which the examination is taking place - for example "First Year Undergraduate Examinations 2022". If using last year’s template, please ensure you amend the date.
    • The title of exam paper, which must exactly match the title of the module as it appears on ESIS.
    • Duration of the exam paper, which should be shown in hours and minutes. Please do not decimalise.
    • If the exam has an extended completion window, e.g. 24/48/72 hours, a word count should be provided, with a statement that the student is not expected to spend the entire duration working on the paper. If a word count is not appropriate for the paper, there should be a statement indicating the approximate amount of time the student should expect to spend on the paper.
    • Any facilities that are provided for the exam e.g. graph paper, books, case lists, statistical tables, OMR forms, pencils etc.  
    • For in-person exams, any materials that students can bring into the exam room and use. Please note students will not be allowed any materials in the exam room unless it is stated on the rubric, e.g. dictionaries.
    • For exams requiring the use of a calculator, the following text must be included on the rubric: “Candidates are permitted to bring into the examination room: Calculator – Casio FX-83GT PLUS/X or Casio FX-85GT PLUS/X only." If you do not include this line, calculators will be confiscated from candidates who bring them to their desks in an in-person exam.
    • An indication of any additional materials provided with the paper and how they are presented:
      • Formulae tables: For in-person exams, these should generally be provided at the end of the paper (i.e. in the same document). You can include an instruction that the tables can be detached from the paper if this would help the student to use them. For online exams (include those that are invigilated), the tables can either be included within the paper or as a separate file.
      • Any additional materials that the department has provided with the paper, e.g. formulae sheets, statistical tables, case lists etc.,  must have the full module code in the top right-hand corner.
      • Answer sheets: For online exams (including those that are invigilated), these can be provided as a separate file or as part of the exam paper. The provision of answer sheets is optional if the department is happy for candidates to create their own Word file or use spaces provided below each question. In you provide them, ensure there is a text box for the student's registration number. For in-person, handwritten exams, answer books will be provided in the exam venue. If you need students to use a separate answer book for each section for marking purposes, this must be stated (up to a maximum of three answer books). If students are expected to write on the question paper itself, this should be explained on the rubric, and the rubric must also include a space for candidates to write their candidate number, exam room and seat number - the Exams Office can provide an image file that you can use for this purpose.
    • The number of questions in the exam paper and any instructions on which/how many questions students need to answer.
    • Question weighting should be shown, e.g. ‘All questions carry equal weight’ or ‘Section A is worth 40% and Section B is worth 60% of the total marks’ or ‘The percentages shown in brackets indicate the marks allocated to each part of a question’, etc. 
    • If the paper for an in-person exam is restricted (because the paper is likely to be re-used in whole or in part in a future sitting, for example), this must be stated on the rubric, and students will not be allowed to take the paper from the exam room. The Exams Office will also instruct the print contractor to print the exam paper on yellow paper instead of white so that invigilators can easily identify it as restricted. Please add the text ‘THIS IS A RESTRICTED PAPER AND MUST NOT BE REMOVED FROM THE EXAM ROOM’. Online exams cannot be restricted, so this line should not appear.
    • The bottom paragraph of the rubric which starts ‘Please do not leave your seat unless you are given permission by an Invigilator…’ should always be included as shown in the example for all in-person and remotely-invigilated exams. This paragraph includes a line instructing students to use the answer book provided, which should be removed if students need to answer on the exam paper itself, or if the exam is running on FASER or Moodle.
  • Examination questions should always begin on page 2 of the paper - the front page is reserved for the rubric.
  • Examination papers must be prepared under secure conditions, with electronic copies stored in secure locations and master copies kept locked away when not in use.
  • Papers should be typed in the format shown in the example. Word or PDF files are the preferred format for exam papers.
  • Master exam papers for in-person exams should be printed single-sided. The print should be sufficiently dark and clear to produce good quality photocopies. Exam papers will be printed by the University's print contractor on A4 paper and double-sided. 
  • Size 12 Arial or Times New Roman font should be used on all exam papers.
  • The front page (rubric) of the paper should consist of the exam details and clear instructions to candidates as illustrated on the example
  • Each page must be numbered clearly. The front page (rubric) is counted as page 1.
  • Questions should be numbered consecutively throughout the paper, even if split into different sections. Please do not revert back to question no. 1 at the beginning of a new section. If a candidate raises a query with a question, this numbering system allows for the quick and unequivocal identification of the question, including in any subsequent exam incident reports, extenuating circumstances claims and appeals. 
  • Figures (images, diagrams, tables, graphs etc.) should also be numbered sequentially throughout the paper. For example, if Question 1 and Question 2 both include two diagrams each, they should be labelled Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3 and Figure 4, or perhaps Figure 1a, Figure 1b, Figure 2a and Figure 2b.
  • Multi-part questions (e.g.: 1a, 1b, 1c i), ii)…..) can often contain errors which disrupt examinations when they need to be checked, especially when questions cross-reference the different parts. Please take extra care to check the numbering of multi-part questions.
  • If using sub questions e.g. 1a, 1b, 1c etc. please keep the same format throughout the exam paper for further sub questions - e.g. do not then change to 2i, 2ii, 2iii etc. 
  • If you show a breakdown of marks, ensure that the total is shown correctly.
  • A question should not be split across two pages – the whole question should appear on the same page, wherever possible. Students with certain individual needs will appreciate this clear separation in the questions.
  • If the paper is split into sections please add ‘END OF SECTION X’ at the end of each section.
  • On the last page, please add 'END OF PAPER' immediately after the last question.
  • For in-person exams, graphs, diagrams, maps, tables etc. must be originals and suitable for photocopying. Ideally they should be incorporated into the body of the exam paper, but if they need to be provided as separate sheets, they must be in A4 format and bear the full module code, and must identify the question to which the item relates.
  • If any materials for an in-person exam cannot be successfully photocopied, e.g. photographs, they must be supplied in sufficient quantities by the department. Colour photocopying is available for pages bearing images where the colour is relevant, but please ensure that the master copy is of the highest quality possible.
  • If you have sent papers to your External Examiners, please check that any notes or draft answers have been removed from the master copy.
  • For in-person exams, the Exams Office will require an electronic copy of the paper, either as an upload to a secure Box drive that we will provide, or on a USB stick, which the Exams Office will provide on request. A single-sided printed copy of each exam paper is also required for in-person exams.
  • A PAF must also be returned with each paper for in-person exams. These will be sent to you in the post. Please fill in all relevant information in section 1 regarding any facilities to be laid out and materials candidates are permitted to use for that exam. All information on the PAF must match the information on the rubric. Information contained on the PAF is reproduced on reports we give to the invigilators and any errors/mismatched information cause disruptions to exams. 
  • If there are any changes to the PAF instructions, after they have been received by the Exams Office, you must inform us as soon as possible. 
  • In-person exams: If providing a physical master copy of your papers, these must not be stapled together, as the print contractor needs to feed them into the copier. Instead, please place each exam paper in a separate polypocket, with the PAF (Print Authorisation Form). Physical copies of papers must be delivered by hand, marked 'CONFIDENTIAL' and given personally to a member of Exams Office staff. They should not be posted or left with anyone else.
  • Online exams: For all exam periods except the resit period (August/September), please upload your papers to FASER or Moodle as appropriate. For the August/September period, please upload to the secure Box folder provided by the Exams Office.
  • Online exams: If you upload an updated version of an exam paper, please inform the Exams Office, so that the revised paper can be checked. Please ensure you remove the previous version from FASER or Moodle, or it will still be visible to candidates.
  • Examination papers must be checked and typed in their final form ready for printing. Please ensure all question papers are checked thoroughly before submitting for print or uploading to FASER or Moodle. 
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