Sitting your examination
Walking to exams
Copyright © Greg Smolonski. This image comes from Oxford University Images - All rights reserved.

In-person exams

It is your responsibility to read and adhere to the Examination Regulations.

This webpage provides practical information on how in-person exams will work, what you should do in advance of the exams and what to expect on the day. Your in-person exam(s) will be either handwritten or typed.

The majority of in-person exams will occur at the Examination Schools on the High Street or Ewert House in Summertown. A small number of exams will also take place at: the Doctoral Training Centre, the Medical Sciences Teaching Centre, the St Cross Building and St Luke's Chapel

Where an exam occurs within a departmental venue, the exam may have different procedures. For more information on exams held in departmental venues please refer to section 6 below. 

If you are sitting an exam online, please see the Online Exams webpage.

1. Before your exam day

Checking your timetable

Your individual timetable should be published on Student Self Service at least two weeks before your first exam.  You will receive an email when it has been added.  As well as checking the date and time of your exams please also check the following:

Location – Where is your exam happening?
Exams – Are all the exams you are expecting appearing?
Exam Adjustments – If you have been granted adjustments to your exams are these appearing?

(NB: it sometimes may take a day or two for recently approved adjustments to appear on the timetable).

If you think there is an issue with your timetable then please contact your College office immediately.

Exam adjustments

For more information about exam adjustments due to disability or religious observance, please see the Exam adjustments page.

Know what to bring

Be aware of what to expect on the day and what you will need to bring to your exam. See the Exam Day section of this guide. 

Preparing for a typed exam

Typed exams will take place on Inspera, the University's e-assessment platform. To log into Inspera in the exams room, you will need to know your Single Sign-On (SSO) log-in details and have multi-factor authentication set up on your mobile phone. Other authentication methods will not work in the exam room. For instructions on setting up multi-factor authentication on your mobile, see: MFA setup and management | IT Help ( 

Prior to the exam, you should also check that there are no alarms set on your phone for the duration of the exam. 

If you haven't sat an exam on Inspera before, we also recommend that you practice using Inspera. See the 'in-person exams on a computer' webpage for ways you can do this. 

Illness before the exam

If you are too unwell or otherwise unable to sit your exam, please contact your College office immediately for further advice to apply for excusal (or your department if you do not have a college). Further details on the process and the evidence required can be found on the Problems completing your assessment page.

2. On your exam day

What should I wear to my exam?

Candidates should wear sub-fusc and academic dress to all in-person examinations. Read more about what constitutes sub-fusc and academic dress.

If the weather is cooler, you may wear a dark coat to the exam venue, but you will need to place this on the back of your chair when you get to the exam room.

In warm weather, once you are sat at your desk you may remove your gown, any jacket, and your tie/ribbon.

What can I take into the exam room?

You MUST bring

•Pens/pencils (we will not be able to lend stationery if you forget to bring it).

You should bring these for typed exams too, to make notes on the rough workings paper provided (as required).

•University card

•Calculator (If your exam permits one – check with your department if unsure)

NB: spare calculators will not be provided if you forget yours

•Mobile phone (if you are sitting a typed exam)

The only authorised use of a mobile phone in the exam room is for logging into Inspera before a typed exam. Once you have done so, you will be required to turn the mobile phone off and leave it visible on the desk for the duration of the exam. 

We advise that you bring these items in a clear pencil case or small clear bag

In addition, you may wish to bring

•Water – this must be in a clear bottle and be non-carbonated

•Dark coat/jacket, to be placed on the back of your chair whilst in the exam room

•Individual timetable (paper copy)

•In-ear ear plugs

Do NOT bring

•Bags, rucksacks, etc.

•Smart watches, cameras, or similar electronic devices

•Mobile phone (unless you are sitting a typed exam)

•Unauthorised material (including revision notes) or equipment relevant to the exam

•Good luck charms and items

•Non-clear bottles / any drinks other than still water (except with prior approval)

•Silent blood testing kits for diabetic students

•Glucose drink (e.g. Lucozade)/ Glucose tablets (e.g. Dextro energy tablets)

•Insulin syringes/supplies/Asthma inhalers/Epi-pen

•Over-the-counter and/or prescription medicine

•Small unobtrusive snack (please note nuts may not be taken into the exam)

•Medical aids (e.g. wrist splint/support, back support pillow, ice pack)

•Coloured overlays

Arrival at the exam venue

Access to the exam venue will be from 30 minutes before the start of the exam (i.e. 9am for a 9:30am exam or 2pm for a 2.30pm exam).  If you arrive before that time then you will need to wait outside, so you may want to time your arrival accordingly.  You should arrive no later than 15 minutes before the start of the exam. Please be aware of any signage which directs you to specific entrances, such as the quad gates.

Waiting area/Finding out where to go

You will be asked to wait in a designated waiting area or marquee until approximately 15 minutes before the start of the exam, when the exam rooms will be called.  On some exam days the waiting area can become busy, so should you wish to avoid this then we suggest timing your arrival accordingly.  Whilst in the waiting area please be respectful of other students.

Within the waiting area there will be lists of candidates – in alphabetical order by surname – and details of which room and desk you have been assigned.  Once the rooms have been called follow the signage to your room.  There will be lists outside each room to help you remember your desk number. 


During the period the waiting area is in use you will have access to the toilets, though you will not be able to take belongings out of the waiting area.  Once the exam rooms have been called you may use the toilets on your way to the exam rooms.  During this time the toilets can be very busy and queues can form.  We recommend that you go before arriving at the exam venue.  Once you have entered the exam room you are not permitted to leave until 30 minutes into the exam.

3. During your exam

Your exam desk

The exam desks will be laid out with desk numbers in the corner, so you should be able to find your assigned seat. What you find on your desk will depend on the format of the exam:

Exam FormatWhat will be on your desk  
  • Exam paper
  • Script booklets
  • Any other materials which are listed on the cover of the exam
  • A computer
  • Instructions for how to log into Inspera on the computer
  • Paper for rough working
  • Inspera Response Sheets for handwritten elements (only if applicable to your exam)
  • Any others materials which will be listed in Inspera

Check that your desk contains the materials you are expecting. Raise your hand to attract the attention of the invigilator if:

  • anything is missing from the desk
  • you have an exam paper you are not expecting 
  • you have problems logging into Inspera
  • you cannot see the correct exam in Inspera
  • you don't have the rest time / extra time you were expecting in Inspera

Do not turn over an exam paper, or press 'start test' in Inspera, until you are told to do so by the invigilator.

Candidate number

For handwritten exams, you will need to know your candidate number in order to complete the front of your script booklet(s). You can check your candidate number on student self-service, as well as on your individual timetable, and will be able to write this information down to bring with you to the exam room. If you realise at the start of your exam that you do not know your candidate number, an invigilator will be able to assist with providing this information.

For typed exams, your candidate number will be shown within Inspera. 

To ensure your exam response can be marked anonymously, you must not write or type your name or student number anywhere within your exam script or exam response.

ID checks

All candidates should bring their University card with them as ID. This should be placed face up on the desk at the start of the exam where it can be checked by an invigilator.

Paper errors

If you think there is an error within an exam question, you should state this at the top of your answer, along with your understanding of the exam question. You should then continue to answer the question as best you can. It is not possible to query the content of an exam question during an exam.

Leaving your desk

During the exam you should raise your hand to get the attention of an invigilator if you want to leave your desk for any reason.

Once you have started the exam, you are not permitted to leave your desk in the first or last 30 minutes of the exam. However, if you feel unwell during this time, raise your hand to get the attention of an invigilator.

If you need to leave the exam due to illness, you may return to the exam once within the remaining exam duration if you feel better and wish to do so. However, if you need to leave a second time you will not be able to continue the exam. If you are unable to complete an exam due to illness, your college will be able to advise on next steps. 

Candidates sitting a typed exam are not permitted to remove their mobile phone from the examination room if leaving their desk temporarily during the exam.  

4. At the end of the exam

Submitting responses in Inspera

When your test has ended (you have used the time allowed), you will no longer be able to edit your exam responses in Inspera. You will be taken to the submission page, where you will be directed to press the 'Submit now' button. 

If you decide to leave the exam early, you should check your exam responses very carefully. Once you press the 'Submit now' button, your responses are considered final and you are not be able to return to the test in Inspera.

Any rough workings paper you have used will be disposed of in confidential waste after the exam. 

If your exam requires you to draw diagrams, graphs, equations or other content which cannot be entered directly into Inspera, you will be provided with an 'Inspera Response Sheet'. Inspera Response Sheets will not be provided for all exams. They will only be available where your exam board has decided they are necessary. See the 'in-person exams on a computer' webpage for more information. Any Inspera response sheets used will be collected by the invigilator once the exam has finished, and uploaded to Inspera on your behalf. 

Please remain seated until an invigilator signals that you can log out of Inspera and leave the room. 

Submitting handwritten scripts

Please ensure that you cross through any rough notes before the end of your exam, otherwise they may be marked by an examiner.

Please ensure that you fill out the covers of all script booklets which you have used with your candidate details – candidate number, date, exam, and the question numbers which you have answered.   Any script booklets containing rough work should be attached and submitted with your answers.

Invigilators will collect scripts from candidates at their desks, please wait patiently until that process is completed and you are instructed to leave by an invigilator. 

Illness or disturbance and mitigating circumstances (MCEs)

If you feel that your performance during an exam has been affected by illness or disturbance, you should complete a mitigating circumstances notice to the examiners. For further details on how to submit a notice, see the Problems completing your assessment page.

5. Leaving your exam

What can you take with you from the exam room

Once your exam has finished, please wait until an invigilator informs you that you can leave the exam room.  You should ensure that you take your pens and stationery with you, along with your University Card.  You should not remove from the exam room any script booklets, University electronic devices, Inspera response sheets or rough work. 

For a handwritten exam, you may usually take away the printed exam paper although some papers are not permitted to be removed from the exam room.

Leaving the building

Once out of the exam room please leave the building as quietly and as soon as possible. Though your exam may have finished, there will be other candidates still taking papers and you should endeavour not to disturb them whilst still in the vicinity of the exam venue.  Please do not wait for friends until you are away from the building to help keep the exam environment as quiet as possible.


Some toilets after the exam will not be in use in order to keep areas quiet for students still taking exams. 

Lost property/re-entry

After you have completed the exam, it will not be possible for you to re-enter the building after you have left. If you believe that you have left personal items behind after an exam, you should contact your college office. They will in turn contact the Examinations team, who will check if these items were left after the exam and, if found, arrange to have them returned to your college.

6. Exams held in departmental venues

Some in-person exams are held in departmental venues such as the Medical Sciences Teaching Centre or Biology Teaching Labs.  Procedures, particularly around arrival and waiting times, may vary from those set out in the above guidance.  Should you have an exam that is being sat in a departmental venue then please check with the department for any detailed instructions.

Avoiding plagiarism

  • Plagiarism is the copying or paraphrasing of other people's work or ideas into your own work without full acknowledgement.
  • All published and unpublished material, whether in manuscript, printed or electronic form, is covered under this definition, as is the use of material generated wholly or in part through use of artificial intelligence (save when use of Artificial Intelligence - AI for assessment has received prior authorisation e.g. as a reasonable adjustment for a student’s disability).
  • Intentional plagiarism can carry severe penalties, including failing your degree.
  • Learn how to avoid unintentional plagiarism.
  • For typed exams, exam responses may be submitted to Turnitin for checking.
Was this page useful?*