Before the exam
Before the exams
This phase is about getting everything in place so that you are ready for the start of the exams, this includes all the exam materials, preparing the rooms and training invigilators.
So that you have all the materials you need to administer Cambridge exams we will send you a number of pre-exam despatches. They are:
- Cambridge pre-exam despatch: Exam stationery, key administrative documents, despatch labels and envelopes
- Cambridge attendance registers and barcoded labels despatch: Attendance registers are for recording the presence of each candidate in the exam, and barcoded labels are to identify the contents of each script packet you send back
- Cambridge question paper despatch: Confidential question papers and supporting materials.
Download our pre-exam despatch guide from the right-hand side of the page. The guide tells you what the despatch contains and what you should do with it. There is a version of the guide for Cambridge Associates which we have developed especially for their schools.
Please do not worry if you do not receive materials for any late or amended entries in the main despatches; they will arrive at a later date. You can find out more about your pre-exam despatches in the Cambridge Administrative Guide, including what to do if a despatch does not arrive or if you are missing any items.
Additional exam materials database
Use the exam materials database to find out the following information for any exam where you need to provide additional exam materials or where we provide additional exam materials:
- the additional materials candidates need in the exam
- the exam materials we provide
- whether the candidates should answer directly on the question paper, writing paper/answer booklets or multiple-choice answer sheets.
You can download the database from the ‘Extra guidance’ panel. Follow the instructions to search by syllabus and component code or syllabus and date.
Damaged, open or missing question paper packets
When your question paper despatch arrives check that you have all the materials listed on the desptach note. If any of your question paper packets are damaged, open or missing you must let us know straight away. To do this complete and return the relevant form available from the right-hand side of this page.
Storing confidential materials
Before the exams start we will send you question papers and other confidential materials. You must keep them stored unopened, in a secure place at all times. Instructions on handling and storing question papers are the in the Cambridge Handbook.
Storing confidential materials
Read them carefully; the security of question papers is vitally important. You can also view our Receiving and Storing Question Papers video below.
Receiving and Storing Question Papers
Preparing the exam room
To give all candidates the same experience each room needs to be set up in exactly the same way.
- Desks 1.25m apart in all directions.
- No helpful display material visible.
- A clock that all candidates can see.
- Appropriate heating, lighting and ventilation.
- Noise levels outside the exam room at a minimum.
- The Centre number, start and finish time and our Notice to Candidates poster displayed so all candidates can see them.
- Display a Notice to Candidates poster outside the exam rooms too.
For more information see Part 4 of the Cambridge Handbook.
You are responsible for training your invigilators. You need to make sure that they:
- understand what is expected of them
- know the regulations for conducting Cambridge exams
- feel confident and supported so they can invigilate all your exams effectively.
Conduct a training session for your invigilators before the exam, even if they are experienced. You can download a simple PowerPoint presentation that you can adapt to train your invigilators or simply to refresh your own memory from the right-hand side of the page.
We ask you to submit forecast grades for all of your candidates. A forecast grade is the grade the teacher expects each candidate to achieve for each syllabus they are entered for. We use forecast grades to help us:
- set syllabus grade thresholds
- make a post-exam adjustment to a candidate’s mark to make allowances for any adverse circumstances, for example illness, bereavement or temporary injury.
There are a number of different methods for submitting forecast grades. See Part 4 of the Cambridge Administrative Guide for more information.
Download the relevant form to request a specific service from us.
For extra support take a look at our useful documents for this phase of the exam cycle.
Log in to CIE Direct, a secure Centre extranet website to help you administer CIE examinations.