Exams

Most of the information in this section focuses on practical aspects of University exams.  However, it is very important to remember that University exams build on what you have done throughout the year. Everyone works in a different way, so instead of comparing yourself to other people, think about what works for you and plan your revision time in line with this. Be proactive in your revision supervisions, and active in your revision strategies (do practice papers, discuss questions and so on).

Looking after yourself during exam term is important. There will be many events within College and the University to help you to do this, such as mindfulness sessions, MINDFULNESS LINKS so keep an eye out for these and take up these opportunities. Building up your own confidence and developing your resilience throughout the year is also very important.   Remember to eat well and get a good night’s sleep. If you have any specific concerns about your exams please do talk these over with your Tutor or DoS.  You may also find the information on exam-stress on the following website useful: https://www.studentwellbeing.admin.cam.ac.uk/support-particular-issues/e...

Exams are organised by the University and take place in central locations, at the times that will be specified on your CamSIS Self Service pages and on your yellow exam confirmation form – known as your ECF (normally not issued until the start of the Easter Term).  ECF’s are placed in your pigeon hole in the Porter’s Lodge by the Tutorial Office.   Please check the information on your exam timetable is correct and read the important information concerning the exam procedure, printed on the reverse of your ECF.  Do not leave this checking to the last minute. If you have any concerns, please contact the Tutorial Office by email on tutorial-enquiries@dow.cam.ac.uk 

Exam Sites

Further information on exam sites can be found on the University’s Undergraduate Examination Information page:  https://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/your-course/examinations/undergr...

Calculators in Exams

In certain subjects and/or certain exams you are allowed to take with you and use a designated electronic calculator for your exams. If you are unsure as to whether your subject and/or exam allows calculators, and if your calculator is a designated model, please check with your DoS.  If you have any concerns please contact the Tutorial Office tutorial-enquiries@dow.cam.ac.uk 

Exam Arrangements

https://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/your-course/examinations/undergr... gives practical instructions regarding exam arrangements, including what you are allowed/not allowed to take into an exam venue.

Faith Provision

https://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/your-course/examinations/undergr... Please refer to this site for information on faith provision for examinations.

Helpful Links

Further information regarding Undergraduate examinations, including details on exam sites can be found on the University’s Undergraduate Examination Information page:  https://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/your-course/examinations/undergr...

Further information regarding Graduate examinations including details on exam sites can be found on the University’s Graduate Examination Information page:  https://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/your-course/examinations/graduat...

CUSU Guide to Exams: https://www.studentadvice.cam.ac.uk/academic/exams/

What to bring to your Exams

To all your exams you must bring with you your ECF, Student photo I.D. card and place both on your desk alongside your name ticket.

You are only allowed to take one small, clear, screw-top bottle of non-carbonated water into the exam room.

Lost University student ID Cards

If you lose your Student photo ID card, please contact the Tutorial Office by email on tutorial-enquiries@dow.cam.ac.uk  College will need to advise the University Exam Office if you will be bringing alternative photo ID to any of your exams.

What not to bring to your Exams

You are not permitted to take items such as smart-watches and associated hardware (earpieces etc.) into exams at any venue.

You are not allowed any other items of food, drink, sweets, tablets, medicines etc. unless you have a medical condition which requires this. Medical evidence from your GP will be required to support any requests. This evidence must be supplied to the Tutorial Office before the end of the Lent Term for Easter Term exams and at least one month in advance of exams in other terms.  If the University agree to this you will receive an email from the Tutorial Office to confirm.  Without this email confirmation you cannot take additional items to your exam.

Late Arrival for Exams

If you arrive at the Examination Hall within the first 30 minutes of the exam starting, you will be allowed to sit the exam in the time remaining.  No extra time is permitted to take into account your late arrival at any exam site including College.

If you arrive later than 30 minutes after the start of the exam, at any exam site including College you will not be permitted to take the examination.

Special Exam Conditions and/or Exams in Alternative Locations

Under certain circumstances, the University may allow you to take your exams under special conditions and/or in alternative venues to the main examination sites.

Information on main exam sites can be found here: https://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/your-course/examinations/undergr...

If you sat your exams under special conditions in the University last year, you will be asked in an email from the Tutorial office to confirm this is still applicable for the current academic year.   It is important to note that the venue to take your exams in a forthcoming year may not be the same as previously agreed by the University.  If you have previously submitted an assessment report, in respect of a SpLD, you will not need to resubmit this, unless there has been any change to your diagnosis or to the conditions required for your exams.

If you sat your exams under special conditions in your School last year, and/or you will need to make a request for your University exams to be taken under special conditions.  In the Michaelmas Term you need to make your Tutor or the Tutorial Office aware: tutorial-enquiries@dow.cam.ac.uk

If you have been diagnosed with a Specific Learning Disability (SpLD) you will be required to provide a valid assessment report which must be:

  • Written by an Educational Psychologist or Specialist Teacher, who has the Patoss SpLD Assessment Practising Certificate (or equivalent).
  • Dated not more than three years old on your entry to the University.
  • Written after you were 16 years of age.
  • Written in accordance with the SpLD Working Group 2005/DfES Guidelines

If you think that you may need a full diagnostic assessment you should, in the first instance, contact the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) disability@admin.cam.ac.uk  You should be aware that, if you require a full diagnostic assessment, it can take several weeks to complete, so please contact the DRC in the Michaelmas Term.

You may also have a medical need for your exams to be held in alternative locations to the main exam sites with additional support to be provided.  If this applies to you, you will need to submit a request to the Tutorial office: tutorial-enquiries@dow.cam.ac.uk by the 13 February for exams in the Easter Term or at least one month preceding your exams in any other period.  It is the University (not College) who make the final decision as to whether exams can be sat under special conditions and/or in alternative venues. It is important that you allow sufficient time to discuss your requirements with your Tutor prior to meeting this deadline.  All requests must be accompanied by supporting evidence.  Requests and supporting documents must be submitted by the Tutorial Office in good time.  The University recommends requests are submitted as far in advance as possible as it can take time for the University to consider these.  A delay in letting the Tutorial Office aware of your needs may prevent you knowing if the University has agreed to your exam arrangements you are requesting until very close to your exams starting.    Not all requests submitted are agreed.

It is important to note that if the University agrees to a request for your exams to be taken under special conditions and/or in alternative venues to the main examination sites your CamSIS Self Service pages and your ECF may not be updated by the University to show the new arrangements agreed for you.  The Tutorial Office will email you directly with the details.  Without this email you cannot presume the University has agreed arrangements for you.  If you have any concerns please email the Tutorial Office to check tutorial-enquiries@dow.cam.ac.uk

Most candidates who have exam arrangements will sit in the central locations provided by the University, namely:

  • The Titan Suite (for those requiring a PC and/or extra time and/or rest breaks)
  • The University Centre (for those requiring extra time and/or rest breaks)

These venues are available when the total amount of time taken to complete an examination (including rest breaks and reading time where applicable) does not exceed 4 hours (regardless of how this may be split between extra writing and/or reading time and rest breaks).

Exams in College

If you have approval for exam times that exceed the 4 hours duration or you need to be in a single room through requiring a scribe/amanuensis, then you must take your exams in College. There are other exceptional circumstances, such as complex medical cases where exams must be taken in College.  In addition, if you experience a sudden, unexpected illness, this may also require exams to be taken within College.  The University stipulate that a separate room is normally only agreed if you are using an amanuensis or you have a disability or illness which would be disruptive to other students taking exams in the same room.  The DRC does not recommend that students sit in a separate room unless it is specified in their supporting documents that they should have one-to-one invigilation and advice is given as to why this is necessary.  Anxiety and stress over exams are not considered reasons for you to take exams in College.

Each year the University require College to liaise with students who have previously taken exams in College to ensure, that going forward, arrangements cannot be met by using the central exam locations provided by the University and the designated venues for students where special arrangements for exams are required, namely:

  • The Titan Suite (for those requiring a PC and/or extra time and/or rest breaks)
  • The University Centre (for those requiring extra time and/or rest breaks)

Helpful Links

The University provides further information and guidance on the University's procedures for making arrangements for taking examinations under special conditions. It also provides information on the system of examination allowances and warnings.  https://www.student-registry.admin.cam.ac.uk/examinations-further-guidan...

You can also find information on the Disability Resource website: https://www.disability.admin.cam.ac.uk/current-students/exam-access-arra...

Illness, or Events that Occur During the Exam Period

Before your Exams

If an illness, or an event occurs prior to the start of your exams which seriously hinders your exam preparation, you should see your Tutor immediately. Please note that coughs and colds or other minor ailments of limited duration will not qualify you for special consideration and you should not trouble your GP needlessly by seeking a medical certificate without consulting your Tutor first.  An Exam Warning may also be appropriate if you suffer from:

  • colour-blindness
  • dyslexia
  • dysgraphia
  • dyspraxia
  • another specific learning difficulty.

If your Tutor deems appropriate, they will arrange for the Tutorial Office to submit an Exam Warning to the University on your behalf. Please note that supporting documents are required to support any exam warning agreed by your Tutor. Any supporting document should be seen by your Tutor but must also be submitted to the Tutorial Office tutorial-enquiries@dow.cam.ac.uk

On the Day of your Exams

If you are unwell, or an event occurs on the day of your exam and you are unable to go to the venue then you should contact the Tutorial Office on 01223 334811 or tutorial-enquiries@dow.cam.ac.uk   Please do this as early as possible, in advance of your exam starting to alert someone to your illness. Appropriate advice will be given to you on what you should do.

During your Exams

If you are taken ill in an exam venue you must alert the invigilator immediately.  If necessary, arrangements will be made for you to be collected and returned to College with your exam paper. If you do return to College, you may be assessed by the College Nurse and referred to your GP if necessary.

If it is agreed with you that you are well enough to continue with your exam, you will be allowed time to rest before you complete this in College.  You will be invigilated and held under exam conditions throughout this period. 

If it is agreed you are not well enough to continue with your exam, the Tutorial Office will ask your Tutor to meet with you to discuss the options available to you.

Illegible Exam Scripts

Students are reminded that examiners will penalise illegible handwriting in examination scripts. Any student whose examination script requires transcription on the grounds of illegibility will be asked to dictate their script and will be charged a minimum of £10 per hour for the typing.

Exam Results

Class List publication dates shows the expected publication dates for each subject. https://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/your-course/examinations/all-stu...

Your results appear in your CamSIS self-service page and are posted on the Senate House noticeboards which are located outside the Senate House on the day of publication and later in the University Reporter and College publications.  You may apply via your CamSIS self service pages to opt out from these publications. https://www.cambridgestudents.cam.ac.uk/your-course/examinations/publica...

Progressing to a Fourth Undergraduate Year

If you are an undergraduate in your final year at Downing and you intend to progress to a fourth year, please ensure that you email the Tutorial Office (graduation@dow.cam.ac.uk) as soon as you receive your examination results.  This will enable your academic record to be updated and your name removed from all General Admission lists accordingly.  Please note, as soon as your fourth year place has been confirmed, you will be expected to leave your accommodation within NPR, unless you have an approved application to remain in College outside of NPR.  

Unsatisfactory Performance in Exams

All undergraduates are expected by the College to reach at least Upper 2nd Class Honours standard or its equivalent in all University or College exams which they take.

The College Education Committee will consider the case of any student who fails to do so. In some cases of unsatisfactory performance the Master and Senior Tutor, acting on the recommendation of a Director of Studies, will see the student at the start of the Michaelmas Term to discuss their commitment to their studies and strategies for improvement and, where appropriate, will expect to see the student during the year to report on progress.

The Governing Body has the right to refuse permission to a student to return into residence either temporarily or permanently if it considers that student’s progress to be unsatisfactory by reason of failure to obtain Honours in a Tripos exam.  

In most cases of failing to obtain Honours, such students will not be eligible to proceed with their studies at Cambridge by virtue of University regulations. The College Education Committee considers each case of failure to obtain Honours and makes recommendations to the Governing Body.

Students who are in danger of being refused permission to return into residence have the right to appear before the Education Committee and the Governing Body when their cases are being considered. They also have the right on such occasions to be accompanied by their Tutor or another Fellow of their choice who will represent their case if requested to do so.

Students have the right of appeal to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator against decisions of the Governing Body.

Exam Appeals

Students should be aware that a separate procedure exists for appealing to the University in a case where a student feels that they have been disadvantaged or unfairly classified in a University exam.

In order to comply with the requirements of the external ombudsman (the Office of the Independent Adjudicator) all Faculty Boards and comparable bodies, have been asked to ensure that an informal ‘mark check’ system is in place for students to check that their marks have been added up correctly.  If a student considers something went wrong during the examination process there is an option for informing the University within 5-calendar days of the examination occurring (if they are not a Graduate student), or within 28 days of them receiving their formal examination marks (for all students).  

Degree Committees or other bodies who issue the formal results of examinations to students should inform students of the Examination Review Procedure, the 28-day timeframe and provide a link to the webpage: www.studentcomplaints.admin.cam.ac.uk/examination-reviews.

It is noted that the review of decisions of Faculty Boards not to permit students to progress to Part III of a Tripos or not to permit additional attempts of professional examinations are now considered under the Review of University Decisions Procedure – further information is available here: www.studentcomplaints.admin.cam.ac.uk/reviews-decisions