University of Exeter Handbook (ALL) Questions/Comments CEMPS

Examination Procedures

Examiners are asked to provide their questions in the form of camera-ready completed papers, typed in the appropriate format with title/rubric page, good quality diagrams and a full set of marking criteria. The goal is to carry out minimal revision of these papers after the initial submission, so setters/checkers should be confident that each paper is ready to present to candidates or to an external examiner. (To this end, setters and checkers are asked to sign a cover sheet for each paper, confirming its readiness.)

One printed copy of each paper should be submitted to the Student Services Office. The call for questions includes: the dates, times and membership of the co-ordination meetings; a list of modules; and a list of setters and checkers - questions must be set and checked by the persons indicated, unless the Examinations Officer agrees to a substitute (it is understood that questions will eventually be marked by the setter). A template with preset styles is available (see below). Some guidelines for typing are given below.

Co-ordination meetings will consider the papers as submitted, without any revision by the Examinations Officer. Thus it is important that editorial matters and issues of the technical accuracy of the content are sorted out before submission - there should be no need to spend significant time on these at the meetings, where the main task will be to check the overall level of each paper, and that the distribution of marks within each question are in accordance with the guidelines below.

After the corrections required by the co-ordination meeting have been made, the papers are sent to the External Examiners who may require further amendments before granting their approval.

Setting Schedule and Deadlines

Deviation from the deadlines in this schedule should only arise as a result of exceptional circumstances and must be approved by the Associate Dean for Education.

Note that week numbers for the preparation ofMay exams are currently provisional.

Week NumbersActions and Notes
Jan. ExamsMay Exams
T1:02T2:03Module leaders submit complete (draft) exam papers and mark schemes, for both the main and referred exams, to internal checkers (by end of this week).
T1:03T2:04Checkers review and return exam papers and mark schemes to module leaders with comments.
T1:03T2:04Module leaders make all necessary changes and pass exam papers to Programme Support who will collate the paperwork for the co-ordination meetings.
T1:04T2:05Co-ordination meetings (membership organised by Assessment Officer and DoE) take place, normally on Wednesday PM. Papers clearly annotated with corrections/comments to be returned immediately to module leaders.
T1:05T2:06Module leaders make edits / corrections indicated by Co-ordination Meetings. Final electronic papers to be submitted to Programme Support.
T1:05T2:06Programme Support send papers and mark schemes to external examiners (by end of this week).
T1:07T2:08External examiners return comments to Programme Support (by end of this week).
T1:08T2:09Module leaders review external examiners' comments, replying and updating papers as necessary.
T1:09T2:10Module leaders submit finalised print-ready PDF exam papers and mark schemes to Programme Support for delivery to the Exams Office.

Examination Security

Under no circumstances must the contents of examinations be revealed to any person who is not a member of the Board of Examiners or an approved member of the University Staff.

Shared and/or networked computers present special security problems, in particular:

Guidelines For Setting Exams

All modules need to be assessed in a manner such that the final module mark is consistent with the University Generic Marking Criteria. When setting questions examiners should structure them so as to achieve the following mark distribution:

The implication of this scheme is that, within a question, no attempt should be made to assign equal marks for equal difficulty. We should, however, be guided by the principle of equal marks for equal time spent by a good candidate in answering the question. Where appropriate, examiners should attempt to include a reasonable number of calculations leading to a numerical answer within a paper.

Take special care when setting an exam for a module that comprises parts delivered by different lecturers to ensure that students can't selectively revise parts of the module and still achieve a good mark.

Examinations have to be appraised by internal and external examiners who were not involved in delivering the module. To ensure that they have the information necessary, mark schemes must indicate the level of difficulty of material by identifying it as requiring 'Recall', 'Application' or 'Synthesis'. These categories are roughly equivalent to the traditional 'bookwork/seen/unseen' nomenclature, but are more generally applicable. This table gives an indicative guide to the use of these categories:

Type of QuestionCategory of question/part
MathematicalQuote mathematical formulae or proofsSolve problem of previously seen type or requiring a straightforward procedure.Construct solution to an unseen problem, e.g. by selecting and combining single-step methods. Exercise foresight and judgement in choice of method.
ScientificState laws and facts, quote formulae, describe experiments. Recall factual content of lectures and/or directed reading.Use factual knowledge and reasoning to answer questions. Solve familar types of problem.Construct solution to an unseen or complicated, problem.
TechnicalDescribe standard proceduresAnalyse results using standard methodsDesign experiments or measurement schemes.
QualitativeDescribe phenomena, methods, history, etc.Use familiar methods and/or ideas to analyse and/or evaluate observations.Demonstrate independently critical engagement with primary and/or secondary literature.

Mark schemes should indicate the parts of questions that are assessing 'self-study' elements of modules. Guided self-study is an essential part of all Exeter Physics modules and examiners need to ensure that it comprises and appropriate proportion of the assessment.

Note: Whilst it can be appropriate to recycle parts of old questions, questions from recent years should not be reused as they stand, in their entirety. Where old questions are reused in a substantially unchanged form, their source must be indicated on the mark scheme so that checkers and external examiners can verify the integrity of the examination.


The structure of examination papers is expected to follow a standard pattern as specified below. Variation of these structures is allowed for exceptional reasons, on the authorisation of the Director of Education. In cases where the rubric instructs the candidate to attempt more questions than are required to achieve full marks, this should be clearly stated: e.g, "Attempt all questions. X complete answers are required to achieve full marks (Y).".

Physics Examinations

Mathematics Levels 4 & 5 (PHY1025-26, PHY2025 15-credits) Time allowed 2 hours. Five questions, each worth 20 marks, with the rubric: 'Answer ALL five questions. Full marks (100) are attained with five complete answers. (Marks may be subject to scaling by the APAC.)'
Mathematics Level 6 (PHY3062 15-credits) Time allowed 2 hours 30 minutes. Five questions, each worth 20 marks, with the rubric: 'Answer ALL five questions. Full marks (100) are attained with five complete answers. (Marks may be subject to scaling by the APAC.)'
General Problems Level 6 (PHY3053 15-credits) Time allowed 2 hours 30 minutes. Section A: twelve questions, each worth 6 marks; Section B: four questions each worth 14 marks; with the rubric: 'Answer TWELVE questions from Section A and TWO questions from Section B. Full marks (100) are attained with twelve complete answers from Section A and two complete answers from Section B. (Marks may be subject to scaling by the APAC.)'
Physics Levels 4 & 5 (15-credits) Time allowed 2 hours. Four questions, each worth 25 marks, with the rubric: 'Answer ALL four questions. Full marks (100) are attained with four complete answers. (Marks may be subject to scaling by the APAC.)'
Physics Levels 6 & 7 (15-credits) Time allowed 2 hours 30 minutes. Four questions, each worth 34 marks, with the rubric: 'Answer question 1 and TWO other questions. Maximum marks (100) are attained with complete answers to question 1 and two others. (Marks may be subject to scaling by the APAC.)'

Physics Mid-Term Tests

Physics and Mathematics modules at levels 4 & 5 (15-credits) Time allowed: 30 minutes. Total of 25 marks, with the rubric: 'Answer ALL questions. Full marks (25) require complete answers to all questions.'
When multiple choice questions are used add this instruction to the rubric: A correct answer to a multiple choice question gains the marks indicated, an incorrect answer is penalised by the deduction of one mark, and the "Don't know" answer 'X' gets zero points.


Medical Imaging Examinations

30 minute in-class tests Paper 1: answer all questions, 5 questions, 5 marks per question.
Paper 2: answer 2 out of 3 questions, 12.5 marks per question.
45 minute in-class tests Paper 1: answer all questions, 8 questions, 5 marks per question.
Paper 2: answer 2 out of 3 questions, 20 marks per question.
60 minute in-class tests Paper 1: answer all questions, 10 questions, 5 marks per question.
Paper 2: answer 2 out of 3 questions, 25 marks per question.
90 minute formal examination Part A: answer all questions, 8 questions, 5 marks per question.
Part B: answer 2 out of 3 questions, 20 marks per questions.
120 minute formal examination Part A: answer all questions, 10 questions, 5 marks per question.
Part B: answer 2 out of 3 questions, 25 marks per questions.

Marking Criteria

A detailed set of Marking Criteria must be submitted with each paper. These will normally include:

A satisfactory set of marking criteria would allow:

The marking criteria need to match the mark allocations on the exam paper, and this should be confirmed at the setting-checking stage.

Marking criteria and/or model solutions for past examinations are not made available students. This is policy was adopted by the Board of Examiners in order to encourage students to develop their own problem-solving skills and to discourage weak students from rote-learning past answers as a substitute for more appropriate learning strategies.

Solutions and Hints for Physics Examinations

A summary sheet of solutions and hints must be submitted with each paper. These will normally include:

Vague references to 'bookwork' should be avoided; give specific pointers that students can use to locate the source, e.g. a lecture number, link to ELE, text-book section, etc.

After the examination, these sheets are published on the WWW, their purpose is to enable a student who has made a serious attempt to engage with the problem to assess whether their method has yielded a correct solution. The typical amount of detail required is indicated by this example [pdf]. Solutions are only required for the principal examination each year, not referred examinations.

Style of Referred Examinations

The style of a referred examination is normally identical to that of the original examination. Particular attention should be paid to the correspondence between the 40% pass mark and the stated learning outcomes for the module.

For a module in which the original assessment includes a component from coursework and/or mid-semester tests, the style of the referred examination may vary from that of the original examination. This allows for the fact that, in all cases, the referred assessment is based solely on the referred examination, i.e. previously acquired marks are discounted (see the applicable Examination Conventions.

Guidelines For Typing Exams

Start by obtaining the latest version of the templates to suit your computer from the following list. Depending on how your browser is set up, you may need to right-click (or click-and-hold) the link and ask for the file to be saved to disk 'as source'.

If you use Microsoft Word, you will need to turn off the 'Automatic' options which interfere with styles, paragraph numbering and formatting. In the event of problems, consult the Examinations Officer.

(It may be helpful to print the template before altering it to see how it's meant to look.)

Indicate on page one if any materials are required in addition to the sheet of Physical Constants (for example, graph paper on request). In the case of an open-note exam, a prominent statement to this effect is required on page one. Page one is only for title, rubric, etc.. Please do not put formulae or data on page one. Start the questions on page two. Type "Turn Over", at the foot of each page except the cover page and the final page, which should have "End of Paper".

Use (i), (ii), (iii), etc. to label principal sections of the question, but only if these relate to different topics; (principal sections do not need labelling if they all relate to the same overall topic - just use separate paragraphs). Use (a), (b), (c), etc. to label such things as a sequence of quantities to be calculated or a list of terms to be defined.

The template has three styles, to be used as follows:

For complicated equations it may be necessary to use the equation editor, but many equations can be typed as regular text, using formatting to produce subscripts, superscripts, etc.. The use of symbols and notation should conform to:

This can be achieved by following the NIST guidelines:

Briefly, almost all symbols (whether Latin or Greek) should be typed in italics. The three main exceptions are mathematical functions (cos, ln, etc.), subscripts that relate to names or words (kB, Eext, etc.), and physical units (mA, kg, etc.). Vectors should normally be typed in bold-italic (without arrow or underline). Subscripts and superscripts should be 9-point size. Type 0 (i.e. zero), not o (i.e. the letter oh), for superscript or subscript 'nought'. Put a space between quantity and unit, and between elements of a unit (e.g. 59 m s−1, not 59ms−1). Do not use a hyphen ('-') as a minus sign, the correct symbol '−' (an en-rule) is longer.

The NIST Guide has a detailed checklist in its preface.

Guidelines For Checking Examination Papers

It is the responsibility of the checker - after discussions with, and revisions by, the setter - to confirm that in their opinion the examination:

In the unusual event of an unreconcilable disagreement between setter and marker the advice of a suitably-qualified mutually-agreed third person must be sought.

Secure Transfer of Examinations

Every person responsible for an examination will be issued with a USB memory-stick by the Examinations Administrator. This device has been pre-loaded with:

It is the responsibility of the examination paper author to provide in Adobe PDF format:

These files must be put into the folder for the current academic year.

For obvious reasons, the memory stick must be kept physically secure at all times and handed to the Examinations Administrator (or their deputy) in person, not via internal mail or a pigeonhole.

Marking, Data Entry, and Checking of Examination Scripts


  1. Within a question, marks must be allocated according to the mark distribution indicated on the question paper and the approved marking criteria.
  2. The marker must use a pen (not a pencil) which writes in red ink.
  3. Unless annotation within the text of an answer is unavoidable, the marker should write only within the margins of the answer sheet.
  4. Marks for individual parts of the question should be written in the outer margin. The total mark for the question, ringed for ease of identification, should be written in the outer margin at the end of the answer. The total mark should be copied into the mark table on the front of the answer book and into the module mark sheet.
  5. Half-marks may be allocated to component parts of questions. In all cases, the final mark for the examination script must be returned as an integer percentage. To facilitate checking, marks must not be indicated by '+/−' symbols, or any other cryptic notation.
  6. The marker must inspect all rough work (generally at the back of the answer book) for material which deserves credit. If the mark table on the front page includes marks derived from rough work, this should be indicated this by a note next to the mark table.
  7. Each page that has been considered by the marker (including all rough work) must have some indication to this effect. If a page attracts no mark or comment, the marker should put a line down the outer margin to indicate that the page has been seen.
  8. For the benefit of external examiners and checkers, in cases where the rationale for allocation of an individual mark may not be self-evident, the marker should provide an explanatory note in the outer margin.
  9. All answers submitted by a candidate must be marked. If the candidate has answered more questions than indicated by the examination rubric, the marks from one or more questions must be disregarded in order to obtain the appropriate number of question marks. (The lowest-mark question or questions should be disregarded, unless this results in a conflict with the rubric.)

Entry of Marks into SRS

  1. The Student Services Office enters the marks received from the module leader into SRS and prints a marksheet that will be used for checking.


  1. Student Services will issue a pack for each exam needing checking that comprises: This pack must be kept secure at all times and returned to Student Services when not being worked on.
  2. Checkers must use a pen that writes in green ink and work in a manner that ensures that there is no possibility of a script being lost or mislaid.
  3. Before commencing, the checker familiarises themself with the rubric for the exam or test.
  4. For each examination script, the checker must ensure that all pages have been marked, that all additions are correct, that the candidate's marks have been appropriately allocated in the light of the examination rubric, and that all totals have been correctly transferred to the cover of the examination book.
  5. Each page that has been considered by the checker (including all rough work and the front cover) must have some clear indication (in green ink) to this effect, preferably a tick in the top corner.
  6. Any errors (missed pages, incorrectly applied rubric, incorrect addition, etc.) should be noted on a Post-it® note attached to the script.
  7. Any differences between the checked mark and the value on the SRS marksheet must be indicated on the marksheet.
  8. When the checking is complete, the entire package must be returned to Student Services who will arrange for any issues found to be resolved.

See also the Department:

University of Exeter Handbook (ALL) Questions/Comments CEMPS