Preparing for Exams

Preparing for Exams

Understanding what Examination Malpractice is and How to Avoid it

Nobody wants to break the rules. When preparing for exams, it is important that students understand and remember exam guidelines. The following FAQs will answer important questions, to avoid committing malpractice during an exam or assessment.

What is examination/assessment malpractice?

Malpractice is any action that breaks the rules of an exam or an assessment. Rules exist for each examination and assessment, to ensure a level playing field exists for all learners.

Examples of malpractice could be:

  • Copying someone else's work;
  • Plagiarising coursework or controlled assessment material;
  • Bringing your mobile phone or any watch into the exam room;
  • Talking to someone during an exam;
  • Sharing information about an assessment on social media such as Instagram, WhatsApp or Facebook;
  • Bringing your own paper/study aides into the exam room; and/or
  • Sharing your coursework/controlled assessment with your friends.

If you become aware of someone else committing malpractice and do not report this to the appropriate school authority, this also can be considered malpractice. Always confidentially report incidents of malpractice to your teacher or Exams Officer.

Can malpractice only happen in an exam?

No, malpractice may happen before, during or after any exam or assessment. Malpractice may happen when you are:

  • Preparing for, completing, or authenticating controlled assessments as your own work;
  • Carrying out practical assessment work and other non-examination assessments; and/or
  • Sharing examination information on social media directly following an exam when you have had to take it earlier than others due to a timetable clash.

How can I avoid committing malpractice?

Make sure you know the rules when completing any part of an exam or assessment. If you have any queries about a subject assessment or exam you should ask your subject teacher. You should also read the JCQ documents, Information for Candidates, which covers all expected exam behaviour.

What may I bring into the exam hall?

You may bring the following items into an examination:

  • Pens;
  • Pencil;
  • Clear pencil cases;
  • Clear water bottles;
  • Clear glasses cases; and/or
  • Calculator, if permitted for the exam, with no lid and all stored data cleared from the memory.

What am I not allowed to bring into the exam hall?

You must not bring any of the following into the exam hall:

  • iPod;
  • Mobile phones;
  • MP3/4 players or similar device;
  • Wireless earphones;
  • Electronic dictionaries;
  • Watches (unless previously approved as part of an access arrangement);
  • Your own paper;
  • Calculators (unless permitted for the exam); and/or
  • Memory sticks.

If in doubt, ask your teacher in advance or view JCQ Information for Candidates for more information.

Are there any electronic devices that I may bring into an exam?

The only electronic device you may bring into the exam, if permitted to do so, is a calculator. You must have cleared any internal memory or stored data on the calculator and remove the lid if there is one.

Ensure that all other electronic devices are stored in your locker or a safe area outside the examination room. If an electronic device belonging to you is discovered inside the exam room, even if it is not on your person, you could still be disqualified from the exam.

How can I avoid committing malpractice in my exam?

Your invigilator will remind you of the dos and don’ts immediately before taking an exam but it is important you know what to expect in advance of exam day.

During an exam or assessment, you MUST:

  • Sit in your allocated seat;
  • Follow all the instructions provided by the invigilator; and
  • Start and stop writing when told to do so.

During an exam or assessment, you MUST NOT:

  • Leave your seat without permission;
  • Attempt to talk to other students during the exam;
  • Borrow anything from another candidate;
  • Pass or accept notes in the exam hall;
  • Engage in disruptive behaviour during the exam;
  • Use inappropriate, offensive, or obscene language in your script; and/or
  • Remove your exam script or question paper from the exam room.

You can find out more information by reading JCQ’s official exam guidelines.

Is it considered malpractice if I’m late to my exam?

If you are late for your exam, this is not malpractice. If you are late, you must not go to the exam room; you must report immediately to the School’s Examination Officer, and they will advise you of the next steps.

If you have a morning exam, always make sure you set your alarm early so that you arrive in plenty of time. Arriving late could make you anxious and you want to avoid that!

How can I avoid malpractice when doing my controlled assessment/coursework?

To avoid malpractice:

  • Only ever submit work that is your own; and
  • You should not copy work from another person’s exam script, controlled assessment, or coursework nor should you borrow work to copy.

Never ever lend your work to anyone. You will get in bother if they copy you, even if you didn't know they had or intended to. You could end up getting a penalty because of someone else’s cheating If you want to quote an author or use someone else's words, you must make sure you reference where the quote has come from. If you don’t, it could be viewed as plagiarism. Type or hand-write your own work for submission.

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is when someone copies another person’s words, thoughts or ideas and presents them as their own. For example, quoting from books or blogs on the internet, another student’s essay, or artwork.

Plagiarism is taken very seriously and, if found in a student’s work, they could be disqualified from the unit or qualification.

How can I avoid committing malpractice using social media?

Students are often advised to stay away from social media during exams because you may accidentally share sensitive exam-related information without meaning to. This includes speaking about it or sharing it as a picture or photograph.

If using social media NEVER:

  • Post your assessment work which may allow it to be copied by someone else;
  • Share confidential exam/assessment related information in advance of an exam/assessment;
  • Accept information on an exam from someone else which you have yet to sit; and/or
  • Share details about exam questions before an exam - whether you think these are real or fake.

If you are aware of rumours of exam content or have seen exam-related posts being circulated on social media, make your teacher aware.

More details are available from JCQ.

What happens if I am suspected of malpractice in an exam or assessment?

Your centre must report all incidents of alleged malpractice to CCEA. Your school/college will give you the opportunity to respond to the allegations and seek further information from you about the alleged incident(s). They will also interview any witnesses such as invigilators, other students and relevant school staff. All relevant information will be gathered such as example unauthorised materials taken into an exam, mobile phone records, copies of social media blogs/records and any other exam/assessment work submitted by you.

Where exceptional circumstances may exist, you should tell your school/college of these during the interview.

A report of the incident, along with all the required information, will be sent to CCEA for consideration and a decision. CCEA will inform your Head of Centre of the outcome of your case including any penalties to be applied to you.

What happens if I’m found to have committed malpractice?

If you are found to have committed malpractice, CCEA will apply penalties in line with the JCQ Suspected Malpractice in Examinations and Assessments policies and procedures Appendix 5.

Penalties that may be applied include:

  • A written warning;
  • The loss of marks for a section, component, or unit;
  • Disqualification from a unit or from all units for that subject;
  • Disqualification from all CCEA qualifications entered for that exam series; and/or
  • A ban from taking assessments or exams for a set period, for example one year.

A permanent record will be kept of any penalties applied to your results. All other information relating to the specific malpractice will be destroyed after seven years.

However, if you follow the rules, you don’t need to worry!

What should I do if I suspect someone else committing malpractice?

You should report your concerns to a member of staff in your school immediately. If you feel you cannot approach anyone in your school, you can email [email protected]. You can also read further information on the JCQ website.