Exam Procedures

  • The perception of academic honesty has a tremendous impact on the students’ (and our) morale, perception of the degree’s value and the integrity of Schulich’s brand.


    What should I focus on?

    We need to be serious about enforcing academic honesty, on a constant basis, in order to protect our value and integrity. Protecting academic honesty entails two parts — (1) prevention of dishonesty through good planning and the proper conduct of exams, and (2) the prosecution of infractions.

    • Please focus on prevention — this is far more effective and involves much less work (and hassle) for you and everyone else than dealing with infractions. A collection of best practice activities can be found in the prevention tab, above.
    • Please familiarize yourself, well in advance, with the process of how to conduct an exam (next tab). Use the invigilator’s report, which has summarized the most important steps in a check-off chart. In case of an administrative or academic appeal the AD Academic will check whether you adhered to proper procedure. The report is mandatory for proctors and strongly recommended for faculty members.
    • Instructors are required to (actively) invigilate their own examinations during their entire duration. Additional invigilators are to be hired, as required by number of students and exam venues (Schulich uses a ratio of 1 invigilator per 25 students).
    • If you suspect an infraction, you must take action – not simply sweep the issue under the rug or ‘take care of it’ by yourself. The process is now fairly simple. Action must be taken through the Petitions and Appeals Officer (Rachel Ricer) or the Associate Dean, Academic – even if you are not completely sure of the student’s ‘guilt’ – so a pattern can be established over time. Please click on the Dealing with Infractions tab, above, for more information.

    Thank you for your cooperation. Please be in touch with the Associate Dean, Academic if there are specific questions you need addressed.

  • Faculty Council approved a revision to the exam policy and procedures in  Winter, 2013, to become effective in Fall 2013. As a companion piece, the exam guidelines for faculty, as well as the exam forms (particularly the invigilator’s report) were updated. They are effective immediately.

    The faculty guidelines inform the instructor / invigilator in more detail how to conduct the examination. They are structured into logical parts that mirror the sequence of administering an exam. The invigilator’s report provides a very brief checklist of the most important steps required for administering an exam. Everyone is encouraged to use this report (it is mandatory for proctors).

    Please note that an invigilator is any person who administers an examination. That is, the definition of an invigilator includes the faculty member(s) responsible for the exam.

    Please print, read and take to the exam the following two documents:


    Faculty Guidelines for Exams 13.03.20

    Exam Reports & Emergency Instructions 13.02.20 


    Further information on the conduct of exams can be found here:


    Senate Policy & Guidelines on the Conduct of Examinations

    Registrar’s Office – Exams and Tests

  • 1. Minimize the likelihood/ease of cheating by copying from other students’ papers

    • Use question formats where copying is difficult (essay style, for example)
    • Alter the sequence of questions and / or copy (different versions of exams) on differently coloured paper
    • For short-answer / numerical answer questions:
      • scramble the order of answers
      • Alter numerical values used in the computation of answers. Make sure that your exam does not become known in advance.

    2. Reduce / eliminate the use of old questions / exams.

    3. Have students stand up and check themselves head to toe to ensure they have no unauthorized materials on them or on the desk.  All materials should be stored in closed backpack or other bags.

    4. Ask students to sign an Academic Honesty statement before taking the exam (e.g., on the exam’s cover sheet).

    5. Ensure that you / your secretary do not accidentally provide an opportunity for students to see electronic or hard copy versions of the exam (chain of custody). Ensure proper invigilation of exams

    • University regulations dictate at least 1 invigilator for each 25 students — the first invigilator is the course instructor or, in exceptional cases, a faculty colleague (not TA).
    • If your examination is assigned to two classrooms, use an invigilator in each, plus yourself, moving between the locations to deal with any discretion-based issues [e.g., clarifying instructions].

    6. Ensure that TA invigilators do their job well

    • Thoroughly instruct them of their responsibilities in advance (checklists and invigilator report forms are attached).
    • Ensure that TA invigilators are actively involved in their task — this is a professional environment and should be treated as such. One useful mechanism is to station one invigilator in the front of the classroom, one in the back, and move around occasionally.

    7. Make sure you know who actually wrote the test or examination.

    • If you are not sure that you actually know all the students in your class (e.g. through photo class lists), use a formal sign-in for tests and exams that include an ID requirement. E.g., have students put out their ID on the desk, then walk through and compare the name and picture on the ID with the student’s face and name on the exam, before the exam formally starts.
    • Check off the student’s name on your class list.

    8. Classroom procedures communicated to students (clearly establish expectations of students who are writing tests or exams):

    • Make sure that you can account for all examination booklets … mark or number them in some way (e.g., with an exotic ink colour) that makes ‘pre-prepared’ exam booklets difficult to substitute for work that is to be done at the examination. No exam booklets should be left in students’ hands or in the examination room. Students should not be permitted to tear pages from their exam books.
    • Insist on clear desks. All items (including coats, etc.) brought to the classroom other than those items that you allow to be used in writing the exam should be placed against a wall (front of class, usually), completely away from students. Students should be told in advance specifically what kinds of materials, including calculators, may be used.
    • If you allow sheets with formulas, it would be best if you provided that sheet (if your intent is to have a closed-book examination).
    • Spread students out in the room, using alternate seating.
    • Do not allow students to have phones, PDAs, pagers or the like; such items should be left elsewhere or placed elsewhere in the room along with coats and other personal items.
    • Absolutely no talking or other communication among students is permissible once examination materials have been distributed.
    • Students should be told that coffee and rest-room breaks are not permitted (except under duress). If a student must absent themselves from the room during the exam, the exam paper should be picked up and a notation made on it, returning the paper to the student upon their return.
    • If you permit students to leave the exam when they are finished (i.e., before the end of the exam period), please give clear directions to them as to how to turn in their materials, and remind them not to communicate with or disrupt other students as they leave. It is generally advisable to have a ‘no-departures’ period during the last portion of the exam, to avoid disruptions and also to assure that materials are gathered in an orderly fashion.
    • Use strict protocols in starting and ending the examination. Distribute materials once students are in place, and insist that they do not begin until instructed to do so. Make sure that all students are bound by a definite end-of-examination time. It is recommended that some warning be given at (say) 10 minutes remaining and 2 minutes remaining. However, when it is over, all students should be required to put their pens down without delay.
    • Actively invigilate the exams (and, as indicated in point 4, above make sure that those who are assisting you do the same). An invigilator’s report has been designed and it provides a checklist of some of the essential elements involved in assuring examination integrity. This means paying active attention to what is going on in the room, re-positioning yourself in the room from time to time and immediately responding to any disturbance or inappropriate behaviour.

  • For dishonesty in the context of tests and examinations, immediately intervene in situations where you have any concerns about propriety of behaviour, but where you’re not completely sure that cheating is occurring. Options:

    • Say something to the entire class about maintaining silence or keeping their eyes on their own paper, perhaps fixing your eyes on the suspect individual or room locations;
    • Speak to an individual or cluster, indicating that their behaviour appears improper and that they will be watched closely;
    • Move one or more students to a different location in the room (‘up front’ often works).

    In situations where you (as instructor) or the invigilator are quite sure that cheating is occurring:

    • Any unauthorized materials (e.g., crib sheets) should also be taken from the student[s] immediately.
    • Students will be allowed to complete the examination even if a breach is suspected.
    • The students involved should be identified and asked to remain in their seats at the end of the examination, at which time their examination materials should be collected and identified by the instructor or invigilator. Notations should be made by the instructor and/or invigilator to assist in documenting what was observed. (If the offence involves more than one student, it may be appropriate to ask one student to move to another location in the room, to complete the examination.) If copying from a neighbour was observed, you may want to note the seating arrangement as well.
    • If the matter is identified by an invigilator, the matter should be reported to the instructor at the earliest possible time. An Exam Incident Report Form should be submitted to the instructor soon thereafter (please see tab on Exam Procedures).
    • The instructor shall assess the situation and if persuaded that cheating has taken place, the instructor should
      • Notify the students that the matter is being turned over to the Associate Dean Academic and
      • Submit a written report and supporting documentation (exam materials, crib sheets, indications of copied sections if that was the case) to the Associate Dean.
    • No examination grade should be entered until the matter has been heard by the Associate Dean and a resolution of the academic dishonesty charge has been concluded.

    More information on academic honesty, including Academic Dishonesty outside of Exams, please see the following links:


    Academics | Academic Honesty

    Student Services | Academic Honesty

    York University | Academic Integrity