Student exam guide

Exams and assessments are an essential part of university life and it is normal to find them stressful. We've developed this guide PDF icon to give you a clear idea of what happens during an exam to take away the stress of the unknown, and help you prepare yourself so that your exams run smoothly. 

What is the University's Exam Code of Conduct?
Read the Examination Code of Conduct Word icon .

When are the University's main exam periods?
The university's main exam periods can be found at on the dates, deadlines and support page.

I need to discuss individual exam adjustments, who should I contact?
If you wish to discuss any individual examination adjustments required, due to a disability or ongoing medical condition, you should contact Disability support before the exam deadline for advice. We suggest you check on the exams web pages for any deadlines you need to adhere to.

Student Support Services will liaise with your Subject Administration team and Academic Office, to ensure any relevant adjustments, received by the deadline, are put into place.

Students with Personalised Exam Plans
If you have an action plan from Student Support outlining adjustments that you might need for exams, and you need to make a decision about which recommendations you want to take up, you will need to confirm these with your administrator prior to the deadlines to ensure these are put in place for you. The deadlines are several months before the exam period so make sure this is on your list of things to do early on.

Checking your exam timetable
Your exam timetable can be accessed on the NTU Online Workspace (NOW) on the Student Exam/Resit timetable tab.
Examinations are normally timetabled during the day Monday to Saturday.

When the timetable is released online, the most important thing to do is check that you don't have any clashes. If you do find you have two exams at the same time you should email straight away, providing your name, student ID number and full details of the clashing exams.

The timetables are subject to change for this reason, so don't check your timetable just once. Check it again closer to the actual exam dates. The venue where you will be taking your exam is usually confirmed around six weeks before your exam date and will show on your timetable then.

If you have any individual exam adjustments which have been agreed via Student Support then these will not show on your timetable until the rooms have been added.

When can I view my exam timetable?
Timetables are usually published on NOW, confirming exam dates and times as shown below:

  • Half-year examinations: Third week in November
  • Main examination period: Third week in March
  • Resit examinations: Second week in July

Venues are normally added 3-6 weeks before your exam date, depending on the time of year.

What if my exam is timetabled during a religious festival?
The University respects the rights and religious views of its students. We will make every attempt to schedule your exam avoiding any holy days, however this may not always be possible. Please email us with any individual circumstances prior to the deadlines published.

What time do the exams start?
Generally, most NTU exams will start at 09:15 and 13:30, unless your exam paper is set by an external body. Students are usually called into the room by the Invigilators 10-15 minutes before the exam start time (depending on the size of the venue) so make sure you leave enough time to get to the venue. Students are called in ahead of the published start time so you can be seated and be in place to hear all the announcements relating to the exam before you start.

It is important to arrive early as you may miss some important information if you arrive after this.

What should I bring with me to an exam?
It's helpful to prepare your exam 'kit' in advance so you don't have to think about it on the day.

The only items you are allowed to bring into the exam venue are:

  • Student ID card
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Ruler
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Eraser
  • Calculator, but you can only use it if the exam paper allows it.
  • Small bottle of water

All items should be in a clear bag or clear pencil case. The Invigilators need to be able to see what you have on your desk.

You must bring your university ID card to every exam. If you have mislaid your card please visit the Student Services Desk available on every campus and get a new one before your examination.

What should I NOT bring to an exam?
You must not bring the following to an exam:

  • Any drinks other than a small bottle of water
  • Any food (unless Student Support are aware of any specific medical condition)
  • Any pencil case unless it is clear
  • Any dictionary including translation dictionaries (with the exception of some modern language examinations where the question paper specifies bilingual dictionaries may be allowed)
  • Earphones or headphones
  • Electronic devices of any kind including mobile phones, smart watches, tablets etc.

The use of mobile phones in the exam or during any toilet break is strictly prohibited. If they are brought to the exam venue they must be fully switched off (not left on silent) and put in the area designated by the Invigilator. You are not allowed to have a mobile phone in your pocket or anywhere near your desk during the examination. This includes having a mobile phone in the pocket of your jacket or cardigan which may be hanging on the back of your chair. If you are found to have a mobile phone on your person during the exam, this will be reported to the Examination Board.

The Invigilators are not responsible for looking after personal possessions. If you are worried about a particular item being lost, you are better to leave it at home. The University will not accept responsibility for any personal possessions which are lost, stolen or damaged during examinations.

What should I wear?
Exams take place at various times throughout the year, and room temperatures vary from venue to venue so the best thing to do to make sure you are not too hot or too cold is to wear layers. Do not hang clothing on the back of your chair. Place clothing in the area designated by the Invigilator or if you take clothing off during an examination, place clothing underneath your desk.

Even in the Summer months it might be very warm outside but the air conditioning in some buildings will make the room a lot cooler so make sure you are going to be comfortable.

What should I do on the day of the exam?
Double check the start time and the venue on your timetable the day before your examination. Ensure you arrive at the exam venue at least 20 minutes before the exam starts. The Invigilators will call you into the room 10 – 15 minutes before the exam starts. You do not want to be late and then miss out on an important piece of information or regulation that may affect your performance.

This might seem very obvious, but go to the toilet before your exam starts as you cannot go to the toilet during the first 45 minutes of an examination.

What if I wear a veil or other religious head coverings?
An Invigilator will need to perform an identification check before the examination commences. You will not be required to uncover your face or hair in public. An Invigilator of the same gender will take you to a private room without the presence of any other persons. Once the Invigilator has verified your identity, you will be given time in front of a mirror to replace your head covering before returning to the exam room.

Only if a candidate is suspected of using headphones or other electronic hearing device to gain an unfair advantage during an examination, can they be asked to remove their headwear so a check can be performed. An Invigilator of the same gender will escort you to a private room where a check can be performed.

Where can I find directions to the exam venues?

What should I expect when entering an exam venue?
You should wait outside the venue until the Invigilators call you into the room.

If you are in one of the larger venues such as Albert Hall, Lee Westwood, Byron or DiCe there may be more than one exam taking place. Please listen carefully to the Invigilators so that you sit in the right area for your exam. You will not be allocated a specific seat number. Some module names sound very similar to each other so it is important you have checked your timetable and know exactly which exam you should be taking.

Depending on the venue, when you are called into the examination the Invigilators may say for example, "Students sitting Civil Litigation – please sit at the desks with the yellow booklets" or the rows may be labelled and you will be instructed to sit at a particular row number.

As soon as you enter the exam room you are under exam conditions. This means you are not allowed to talk to other candidates. On entering the venue, Invigilators will indicate where to leave any personal belongings, including coats, hats and bags. Please take out of your bag the items you need for your examination. Leave your mobile phone and any revision notes in your bag.

Once you have taken your seat, place your student ID card with the photo facing up on the top right hand corner of your desk. Your pens and pencils which should be in a clear plastic bag can be placed on your desk.

On your desk you will find an attendance slip. Please complete the attendance slip and put it next to your student ID card on the top corner of your desk. The Invigilators will collect these in once the exam has started and also check your photo ID at the same time.

You should sit quietly at your desk until the Invigilators make their announcements. It is important to listen carefully to everything the Invigilator tells you. Some rules are a standard script which you will hear at every examination, but please still listen even if you have heard it before. These rules may be supplemented by instructions that are specific to the examination you are doing and may affect your performance if you do not abide by them. Read the Examinations Code of Conduct ahead of your exam Word icon .

You can complete the front of your answer books but do not write inside until the exam has started. You need to complete the module code and title of the examination (you can get this from the front of the question paper), the name of the course you are studying, the year of your course, and the exam date and time. Please remember to provide your Student ID Number. The top right hand corner has a section you should complete with your name, signature, the course you are studying and the year. This needs to be sealed down to comply with the anonymous marking policy.

What happens once the exam starts?
The Invigilator will tell you when you can start the exam. Make sure you read the instructions on the front page of the exam paper very carefully, as they may provide you with information in addition to any rules read out by the Invigilator and failure to read any instructions may affect your performance if not followed.

If the exam consists of any reading time, this will be announced. You must not write anything during reading time. This includes highlighting or making notes. If you are found to be making notes during reading time this is considered academic misconduct and will be reported to the Examination Board. The Invigilator will advise when you can start writing.

What will be on my exam desk?

  • Question paper. Do not read the exam question paper before you are told to do so. Do not start making notes on the exam paper before the start of the exam is announced as this is considered academic misconduct and will be reported to the Examination Board
  • Coloured answer booklet. Occasionally, you may be instructed to use a separate booklet for each question. (For some exams, the question paper may act as your answer booklet instead. Where this is the case make sure you have written your Student ID number on this.)
  • Attendance slip
  • Graph paper (if applicable)

Where should I complete my rough work?
All rough work and any question planning must be written in the answer book and then crossed through if you do not want it to be marked. You should not tear any pages out of your answer book or use any of your own paper.

What if I need extra paper?
Additional paper will only be supplied if you have used every page in the answer book already supplied. If you need extra paper, please raise your hand to attract the attention of the Invigilator. If you use extra paper, please ensure this is securely attached to your answer booklet by a treasury tag which the Invigilator will supply.

What if I am late for an examination?
We suggest you plan enough time to get to the exam venue and allow for traffic and travel problems. Students can still enter the exam venue up to 30 minutes after the exam has started, however you will not receive the missed time back, the time will be lost.

If you arrive more than 30 minutes after an exam has started you will not be allowed to take the exam. In the first instance, you will need to contact your School Office for further advice.

How soon can I leave the exam room?
No-one is allowed to leave the examination room until 45 minutes has elapsed. No candidate is allowed to leave during the final 15 minutes of the exam.

If your exam finishes before other exams in the venue, please leave quietly as other students will still be completing their exams. Even when you have left the room, please keep your voices low as conversation carries in a quiet environment and may be disruptive to those still continuing.

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What if I need to leave the room temporarily?
Once the examination is underway, if you wish to go to the toilet you must raise your hand and wait until you have the Invigilator's attention. You cannot go to the toilet during the first 45 minutes of an examination. After this time, only one person can go to the toilet at a time, so if several people are requesting to go to the toilet you will have to wait until it's your turn. You will be accompanied to and from the toilet by an Invigilator at all times. The Invigilator must satisfy themselves that you have no unauthorised materials or equipment in your possession before you enter the cubicle so you may be asked to empty your pockets first. Any time spent out of the room will be lost, unless you have stop the clock rest breaks built into your Student Support exam adjustments.

If you need to leave the exam room because you are ill, you will also be accompanied by an Invigilator. Again, any time spent out of the room will be lost but a report will be completed so the Examination Board have this information.

What if I have a question?
You should raise your hand and attract the attention of the Invigilator.

What happens at the end of an exam?
Once the Invigilator has announced the end of the exam, you should stop writing immediately. It is considered misconduct if you keep writing after the Invigilator has asked you to stop and will be reported to the Examination Board.

Make a final check to ensure that your student ID number is on every answer booklet and any additional sheets you have used are securely fastened to your answer book.

The Invigilators will collect your completed answer booklet from your desk. Do not leave your seat or talk to anyone else until all booklets have been collected.

You cannot take the question paper with you. Only take with you what you brought into the exam room. The Invigilator will inform you when you can leave the exam venue.

Where can I find out further information about handling exam stress?
We all know that exam and assessment periods can mean extra pressure, stress and sometimes makes you anxious. Student Support Services have devised the Take 5 plan which is a programme of activities and top tips to combat exam stress. More information can be found at the Student Services Take 5 campaign page.

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