Anecdotes from the Exam Hall #2

Prayer before Cheating?

Just before the Use of English exam (GS 101) which I invigilated the first years, a student asked for permission for the class to pray. After the singing and the praying (and the casting and binding) I told them that the fact that they have prayed means that they would not cheat and they started laughing. During their chemistry exam (CHM 101) the same fellow (probably the class “Pastor”) asked the Chemistry coordinator for permission which he flatly refused. Walking past  I heard “Pastor” snidely comment that it is  because he is an “Eckist” (an adherent to Eckankar). during their Math exams (MTH 111 and 121) I noticed that they did not pray as usual. Maybe there was no time (45 min for 25 questions) to pray. Or maybe they made up their minds to cheat.

Calm down and Read the instructions Carefully!… Or I smack the hell out of you

One of the frustrations of invigilating exams is the uncanny inability of students to read and follow instructions. You remind people about writing their registration number or their serial number or the question numbers answered in the exams only for someone to come at the end of the exam because he forgot to do those things. I have had to control a strong urge to smack some students in the head.

During the GS101 exams the attendance sheet had two positions for signatures: signing in and signing out. Sometime after the list went round for signing in I passed it round again for signing out. Sure enough on troll went to the end of the list and wrote his name again (that was what he thought signing out was!).

After the CHM 101 exam a lady came saying that she wrote the exam in pencil and wanted to write it out with a pen. It was clearly written in bold uppercase font “DO NOT WRITE WITH PENCIL” in the instructions on the exam sheet.

I am forced to read the instructions for the students and go round to make sure they were followed. During the Math exams after reading the instructions I went round and sure enough people were doing the exact opposite of what was asked. I haven’t smacked heads yet but soon will.


One of the amusing things about invigilating examinations is that you can always spot the desperate students who don’t know what to write and need to cheat to avoid a sure F. Spotting these ‘desperados’ is one of the first things I do and then once discovered I put the desperado under tighter surveillance.

  • Hanging around his/her corner or moving him to an isolated part of the class. Where he cannot possibly communicate with anyone
  • For situations where you have a number of desperadoes I just look for a seat among them and stay there. It is funny (I admit in a wicked way) to watch the fellow squirm in discomfort and practically not write anything while you are sitting around him. The down part of this is that you can only take care of a limited area of the hall. But here is where other invigilators come in.
  • one can also identify the sharp guy on whom the desperadoes depend and them move him. if he has already finished you can convince him to submit.
  • Towards the end of the exam when caught trying to cheat you can either waste some of his time (doesn’t usually work as he doesn’t have anything to write in the first place) or make him submit.

This may sound wicked (I get that feeling at times) but in the long run you probably get better students in the end.


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