As a trainee or novice ESL teacher, you could very early on find yourself invigilating an ESL examination. Here’s some information about what is involved in exam invigilation. Once the venue has been decided by your director of studies, your duties will normally be as follows:
  • On arrival of the examinees, you will be required to direct them to their seats: if there is a specific seating plan, make sure you adhere to it.
  • Once all the examinees have been seated, you may be required to announce the conditions under which the exam is to be conducted. This should include the following information: the duration of the exam; the rules concerning eating and drinking; the prohibition of smoking; that no one may leave the exam 15 minutes before the end; the use of the toilets; the raising of hands for attracting attention; the no talking rule; that question papers must not be turned over until told to do so.
  • If not already done so, you will be required to hand out the exam papers: one set of papers should be placed face down on each examinee’s desk.
  • Once the start of the exam has been announced, you will be required to start invigilation. You should walk around as unobtrusively as possible: avoid standing near, or looking over examinees from behind – unless you suspect cheating.
  • During the invigilation you will be required primarily to make sure that no cheating is taking place. Here are some indications that might cause you to believe an examinee is cheating: the examinee is completely bent over the exam paper while writing; there are scraps of paper sticking out of a pencil case; there are handwritten stickers stuck on calculators or pencil cases; the examinee’s hands or arms have writing on them.
  • In the event that you suspect cheating, you should unobtrusively attract the attention of the head invigilator. Evidence of cheating should be collected, and the examinee(s) should be reported to the director of studies: the examinee must be allowed to complete the exam. 
  • Examinees that require the use of the toilet must be escorted at all times. 
  • Examinees feeling unwell should be quietly assisted from the examination venue; if necessary, appropriate medical attention should be sought. The event will also have to be officially recorded and reported to the director of studies. 
  • At the end of the exam, you will be required to go round and collect all the examination papers.
  • As the students are leaving, ensure they do not take anything out of the exam venue that they are not supposed to, e.g. exam question sheets.

ESL exam invigilation

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On arrival of the examinees, you will be required to direct them to their seats: if there is a specific seating plan, make sure you adhere to it. Once all the examinees have been seated, you may be required to announce the conditions under which the exam is to be conducted. This should include the following information: the duration of the exam; the rules concerning eating and drinking; the prohibition of smoking; that no one may leave the exam 15 minutes before the end; the use of the toilets; the raising of hands for attracting attention; the no talking rule; that question papers must not be turned over until told to do so. If not already done so, you will be required to hand out the exam papers: one set of papers should be placed face down on each examinee’s desk. Once the start of the exam has been announced, you will be required to start invigilation. You should walk around as unobtrusively as possible: avoid standing near, or looking over examinees from behind – unless you suspect cheating. During the invigilation you will be required primarily to make sure that no cheating is taking place. Here are some indications that might cause you to believe an examinee is cheating: the examinee is completely bent over the exam paper while writing; there are scraps of paper sticking out of a pencil case; there are handwritten stickers stuck on calculators or pencil cases; the examinee’s hands or arms have writing on them. In the event that you suspect cheating, you should unobtrusively attract the attention of the head invigilator. Evidence of cheating should be collected, and the examinee(s) should be reported to the director of studies: the examinee must be allowed to complete the exam.  Examinees that require the use of the toilet must be escorted at all times.  Examinees feeling unwell should be quietly assisted from the examination venue; if necessary, appropriate medical attention should be sought. The event will also have to be officially recorded and reported to the director of studies.  At the end of the exam, you will be required to go round and collect all the examination papers. As the students are leaving, ensure they do not take anything out of the exam venue that they are not supposed to, e.g. exam question sheets.
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