What is Meant by ‘Centre Supervision’ for Exams?

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Exams always seem scary. There’s always a feeling of panic when you see the rows of single desks and exam papers placed faced down on top of them! Let’s not forget about the invigilators too, who can sometimes seem frightening! You may have heard of the term ‘centre supervision’ before and this is also an arrangement associated with the exam period. However, is there a reason that all of these arrangements are put into place? After all, exam security is extremely important.

Put simply, ‘centre supervision’ is the period where students have to keep the contents of an exam confidential. During the exam, this means they are not allowed to communicate with others and are supervised by invigilators. There are also cases where students have to be under full centre supervision, when they are supervised for a period of time after the exam is over. This is the case when they take international exams.

If you want to find out more about centre supervision and the benefits of its usage, check out the rest of this article!

What does ‘centre supervision’ mean?

The term ‘centre supervision’ may seem foreign to you. However, it is pretty simple! This term simply refers to the controlled period of time when students are completing an examination.

This is when students are required to sit in dead silence, where even the sound of a pin dropping can be heard! ‘Centre supervision’ also requires students to be observed by invigilators, whose job is to make sure that nobody is cheating.

The amount of time it lasts depends on the length of the exam. For more information about this, check out this guide by JCQ.

Check out this article from Think Student to discover how long A-Level exams typically last for.

What does ‘full centre supervision’ mean?

Some qualifications are taken by students all over the world. This is the case with IGCSEs. You can discover what these are if you check out this article from Think Student. Due to the hours of daylight being different in these different countries, the times that the exams are sat by students is also different.

This means that keeping the exam confidential from students who have not yet sat the exam can be very difficult. As a result, extreme measures have to be put into place.

The Cambridge Assessment International Education examining body has to implement ‘full centre supervision’ to make sure that students from other countries don’t find out the questions in the exams they will have to sit from students in different countries who have already sat the exam.

This requires students to always be supervised by invigilators, even after leaving the exam room. They will be allowed to access their notes and talk to fellow students about how the exam went.

However, they are forbidden from accessing a telephone or the internet. They also cannot be in contact with anybody else who are not also under ‘full centre supervision’. You can discover in more detail what this means if you check out this page from the Cambridge Assessment International Education website.

Why is centre supervision important?

Centre supervision is an important aspect in the process of administrating exams. This is because it makes sure that all students who take the exams have the same opportunities and no one has an advantage over somebody else.

According to this page from the Cambridge Assessment International Education website, exams from this examination body are administered to 160 countries! As a result, there will be many time differences!

This means that some students would have finished the exam before others have even started. Potentially, the students who have already sat their exam could tell students from other countries what questions were on there.

Consequently, centre supervision is essential to make sure that there is no cheating.

What happens if a student leaves centre supervision?

If a student leaves centre supervision, it is not surprising about what will happen to them! They become a security risk and could even be disqualified from the exam.

Their departure would also have to be reported to the exam board, as one student leaving could put the whole exam at risk. Therefore, it is not advised to leave centre supervision.

You should never try to help others cheat during an exam! It is best to just revise effectively. This can be achieved really easily, and you can read up about how to do it if you check out this article from Think Student.

Eventually, it will soon be over! You will just have to stay under centre supervision until the Key time. You can discover the full meaning of Key time if you check out this article from the Cambridge International Assessment blog.

What else prevents foul play in exams as well as centre supervision?

Cambridge International and other international exam boards have some other precautions put into place which are just as effective as centre supervisions. All of these arrangements are used to make sure that countries in similar time zones are under exam conditions at the same time. This is used to make sure that the exam paper content remains secure.

For example, the Cambridge International company have created administrative zones. An administrative zone refers to a section of the world where the times are similar. There are six administrative zones in the world and each school is allocated one.

Having key times is also a useful arrangement. Each country is given an exact time for when the students of that country should be taking the exam. All of these measures put in place are used to make sure that as many students as possible are taking the exam at the same time.

This increases the security of the exam papers. You can find out more about how these measures are effective if you check out this page from the Cambridge Assessment International Education website, also linked above.

Why is centre supervision used for exams which are not international?

In some cases, students have to take an exam after everyone else who is in the same class as them! This could be because they have two exams scheduled at the same time. Obviously, they can’t take both together!

As a result, they will need to take one in the morning and then the other in the afternoon, despite it actually being a morning exam. The time period between the morning exam and the afternoon exam is where the candidate must be completely supervised.

They will not be allowed any access to the internet, a mobile phone or be able to talk to any friends. They will have to stay in a room with an invigilator until their next exam. However, they will be allowed access to their own notes and revision materials.

In some rare cases, students have to take an exam the day after the rest of their classmates took it! This could be because they had too many exams in one day. According to this guide from JCQ, if a student has more than five and a half hours of exams to sit in one day for GCSE or more than 6 hours for A-Levels, they are able to sit one of their exams the next day.

If this is the case, the student will be put under full centre supervision, to make sure that they have no way of knowing what was on the exam the day before. They will have to be with an adult at all times and must not communicate with anybody else.

Candidates will also have to complete an ‘Overnight Supervision Declaration form’ to show that they fully understand their responsibilities.

What are the rules for invigilators during centre supervision?

It is probably no surprise to you that invigilators must not be related to any of the candidates sitting the exam, they must not be a current student and also must not be a teacher of the subject that is being examined.

Invigilators must also be qualified and experienced and must have attended a suitable training session. The invigilators have to be trustworthy of course, to make sure that the exam papers are fully secure!

In normal examination situations, invigilators also have several rules to follow. For example, they have to frequently move around the room and report any foul play.

As a result, there must be a minimum of one invigilator for every 30 students for normal examinations. However, there should be a minimum of one invigilator for 20 students for practical or art examinations.

You can find out more about the requirements of invigilators during centre supervisions and more general information about keeping exams secure if you check out this guide from the Joint Council for Qualifications.

Do art exams require centre supervision?

You may have heard rumours about how easy-going art exams are. You may have heard about students being able to listen to music and even talk to each other!

However, according to this page from the OCR website, this is not the case anymore. The art exam is conducted in the same way as others, in the sense that students are not able to talk to each other and there is a time restriction where invigilators supervise.

The only difference is that the invigilator can actually be the art teacher. This is so students can be supported when they need technical assistance when using machinery or tools. If you want to discover how to absolutely smash your GCSE Art exams, check out this article from Think Student.

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