How to get the work
Most education authorities, colleges and universities will recruit invigilators prior to their May-June and January exam periods, so the weeks or months before then are the best time to start looking.
If you have a child at school, keep an eye out for any announcements in the school newsletter. Anyone can check out your local borough council website for positions at local schools, which will need people to oversee GCSE and A-level exams. You could even contact your local schools directly to see if they need extra help.
For colleges, universities and adult education authorities, search for vacancies on their individual websites. Many also go through recruitment agencies or advertise on job websites, so try your luck with these (tip: a quick search on the Net for ‘exam invigilators’ should show the most current crop of positions). Gumtree might also be a good place to look for adverts.
Obviously, school exams will be during school hours, while university exams may run until a little later, making it an ideal temporary job for part-timers, retirees or stay-at-home parents.
Training is provided so you don’t need any experience – basically if you’re responsible and you’re available to work, you’re in with a good shot. Some places will require a CRB check, depending on their individual policies. This can be tricky to get at short notice but if you ask around in advance you should be able to get yours in time for exam season. Depending on whether you need a standard or enhanced CRB check, it takes between ten days and four weeks to process.
How much can you make?
How much you end up with by the end of the period really depends on how many exams you can sit in on. The rates of pay vary but you can expect anything between £7 to £10 per hour – universities may offer more.
So, for example, if you were to sit in on two three-hour exams a day over a two week period at the maximum pay rate, you could finish up with £600. Not too shabby for pacing up and down.
What does it involve?
There is actually a lot more to exam invigilating than turning up to open the doors or shouting ‘pens down!’ at the end. As we said, training will generally be provided before the exam period starts and each school or university will doubtless have their own procedures to follow, but here are some of the basics:
Before the exam
You’ll have to arrive early, half an hour to an hour before the exam is due to begin, to set up the exam room. This will likely include:
- Placing answer booklets and question papers on each desk.
- Checking all seats are labelled correctly.
- Knowing what equipment students are allowed (Calculators? Extra paper? Is it an open book exam?)
- Put up regulation notices, seating allocations, exam start and finish times, and ensure clocks are visible and working.
- If it is a large exam hall, there will probably be a few invigilators so you can divide how many tables each of you will oversee.
Start of the exam
- Direct students to their seats and tell them where to leave their bags.
- Confiscate any items that aren’t allowed, such as revision notes, text books, calculators (unless otherwise allowed), and of course, any mobile phones.
- Read exam regulations to students and give out any specific exam instructions.
- Make sure no one starts reading or writing before the start time.
- Check the ID of all students and marking their attendance (you will generally have to inform the office immediately if any students are absent).
- Make sure no-one goes in or out of the room before the allowed time has passed.
During the exam
This is where a little tedium may set in. You must remain alert throughout the entire exam, to remain on the lookout for students who need help, or those who may be using less than honest means to finish their paper. This means you CANNOT use the time to read or write yourself, and definitely not stand around chatting with the other invigilators. You will have to:
- Circulate the room regularly – this is where those soft-soled shoes come in handy!
- Observe the students, but try not to stand reading over their shoulders.
- Escort students to the toilet if necessary.
- Hand out extra paper or answer booklets if requested.
- Make sure there is no talking and that any disruptions (such as loud noises outside) are taken care of as quickly as possible.
- Announce when the exam time is almost finished.
If you do suspect a student of cheating, it is likely each individual institution has their own procedure for dealing with it that you should follow.
Depending on the length of an exam, you may be allowed to take a short break.
End of the exam
- Collect all answer sheets and question papers BEFORE dismissing the students.
- Make sure answer sheets are in the right order (it might be by ID number or classes) before returning them to the office.