Exams Proctoring Guidelines

It is essential that all exams in the Department of Physics and Astronomy are conducted with integrity and diligence. Hence, the following guidelines should be observed by teaching assistants who have been assigned to proctor exams:

  • Contact the course instructor in advance for special instructions. Discuss any questions you might have about conducting the exam. The instructor may also give you a copy of the exam ahead of time. You should read it over and prepare for possible questions from students.
  • Arrive at the exam room 5-10 minutes prior to the exam to ensure an accurate start time for all participants. If for some reason you cannot arrive early, inform the instructor ahead of time.
  • To the extent possible given the number of seats in the room, make students take seats so that there is at least one empty seat between nearest neighbors. Make students put away all books and papers before passing out the exam.
  • When students ask for help, make sure that you understand the question before answering. If you are not sure about how to answer, ask someone who is teaching that course for help. Wrong or unclear hints are worse than no help at all!
  • If a student appears to misunderstand the exam problem, you can try to state the problem in different words, but do not tell the student how to solve the problem!
  • If you give a relevant hint or additional information (e.g. formulas) to one student, the same information should be written on the board so that all students can read it. Identify the number of the problem where this formula may be needed.
  • If there is no clock in the room, it is good practice to occasionally write the time on the board (e.g. every 20 min) to help the students budget their time. You may wish to give a warning 5 to 10 minutes before the end of the exam so that students can complete any problems that they had started to work on.
  • Oral announcements are sometimes necessary but they also disrupt the students' concentration and are often hard to understand. Keep them to a minimum. It is better to write a short note on the board.
  • Count the students that are taking the exam and count the number of exams that you collect at the end of the exam. Write the numbers on your personal copy of the exam together with any other notes that you may want to pass on to the instructor.
  • If you suspect that one or more students are improperly exchanging information, ask them to change seats. It is unwise to accuse students of cheating during the exam. Document your suspicions and let the instructor decide how to handle cheating attempts.