Invigilating Staff: Ensuring fair and equal exam conditions for all candidates

Blogpost Invigilators


You might think that administering an exam is an easy job, but ask any member of our invigilating team and they will tell you that there is much more to it than meets the eye!

On the one hand, invigilators must ensure that the exam is carried out according to the strict regulations stipulated by Cambridge Assessment English, but at the same time they must make candidates feel at ease, so that they can give their best performance on exam day.

Along the way they must be prepared to think on their feet and deal with any issues that come up in order to minimise any disruption to candidates.



Our invigilating team are required to attend an initial training session of four hours and then attend subsequent annual ‘top-up’ training sessions.  Initially most invigilators begin as ‘assistants’.  Cambridge English requires Exam Centres to provide one invigilator per 25 candidates, so in a room which accommodates more than 25 candidates, there will be one lead invigilator and one or more assistants.  Starting as an assistant is a great way to observe more experienced invigilators and see how they handle the session.


Exam security is vital to ensure that the exams are reliable and that no candidate has any unfair advantage.  Invigilators must check that exam materials have not been tampered with in any way before they are distributed and carefully count all materials at the end of sessions to ensure that no papers have been removed from the exam room by candidates.  Question papers arrive in sealed bags directly from Cambridge in the UK and are not opened until the invigilator cuts open the bags in full view of all candidates just before distributing them.


A key part of the invigilator’s job is to be on the lookout for any malpractice, or cheating. This requires them to regularly patrol the room and investigate any suspicious behaviour. They are also required to carefully check identity documents to verify that candidates are who they say they are. During the exam, invigilators must prepare a detailed room plan indicating where each candidate is seated and this document may be requested by Cambridge in the event of any malpractice enquiry.

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Preparing the exam room

Well before the start of any exam session, our invigilators are to be found preparing the exam room according to regulations.  All candidates must be seated at least 1.25m apart and our team are provided with ribbons of exactly this length to ensure that this distance is respected.  The room must have a clock and good lighting and ventilation.  Sound equipment must be checked and double checked well in advance of the listening test so that any possible problems can be solved as quickly as possible.

People skills

Above all, invigilators must have good people skills and know how to give clear instructions and to resolve any doubts or questions that candidates may have in a professional and friendly manner.  Occasionally they may have to deal with unexpected issues: a fire alarm, an ill candidate, or an electricity failure during the listening test.  They must keep calm and do their best to make sure that candidates can complete their exams under the best possible conditions.

Our exam centre is proud of our excellent invigilating team.  Their contribution to the smooth running of exam sessions is invaluable.

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