From exam hall to Cambridge examiner: The journey your exam papers make

From exam hall to Cambridge examiner: The journey your exam papers make

File photo of a student taking the 2017 A-Level Chemistry paper. (Photo: Ruyi Wong)
SINGAPORE: Every year, students from Singapore enter about 350,000 examinations which are marked by Cambridge Assessment in the United Kingdom, according to data from the British exam board. These entries include subjects assessed at the GCE N, O and A-Levels, with the exception of Mother Tongue and Social Studies, which are marked locally.But the number of entries made from Singapore students is just a fraction of the total number of entries Cambridge Assessment receives yearly: Nearly a million students from approximately 10,000 schools in 160 countries.Overall, the number of scripts and components for each syllabus will be more than the total number of entries, Cambridge Assessment explained, as each syllabus a candidate enters for will have more than one component.The process of how exam scripts are marked and transported from schools to the examiner has been thrown into the spotlight after the theft of 238 A-Level H2 Chemistry exam scripts from a locked courier’s van in the United Kingdom. The affected students, who come from four junior colleges, had their final grades for the subject derived through a projection.But what is the process by which exam scripts are moved around, marked and checked? Here’s what happens.PENS DOWN: After each exam is conducted, SEAB collects the scripts from the examination centres. Subjects that are marked locally will be marked in schools and SEAB, the examinations board told Channel NewsAsia. Those that will be marked in the UK by Cambridge Assessment will be sent via air freight to Cambridge Assessment.
FROM THE AIRPORT TO THE EXAMINER: After the exam scripts are flown to the UK, they are couriered to Cambridge Assessment's office, where the packets of exam scripts are scanned, sorted and sent by the courier to examiners for marking, explained Roderic Gillespie, Cambridge Assessment's director of assessment.Scripts are allocated to examiners for marking through Cambridge’s computer systems, before the exams take place. Most Singapore centres have a large number of candidates, explained Mr Gillespie, and the system shares these between an “appropriate number” of different examiners.All parcels of exam scripts, he added, are tracked by the secure courier, and examiners receive the scripts from Cambridge Assessment within 24 hours. The scripts have to be received in person by the examiner, who has to acknowledge receipt by providing a signature. The signature is scanned at the point and time of delivery, and the courier’s system is updated with this information.TRANSMITTING THE GRADES, KEEPING THE SCRIPTS: Once marking is completed, the marks are submitted to Cambridge electronically, and scripts are returned to Cambridge by secure courier.Once scripts have been received back in Cambridge, Mr Gillespie said that “additional quality assurance and logistical checks” are carried out. All scripts are then kept at a secure facility owned by Cambridge Assessment, so they can be accessed quickly if there is an appeal on results or any other enquiry.SEAB added that after the scripts are marked and checked, Cambridge Assessment will input the candidates’ marks for each paper of a subject into a secure system. The results are then electronically transmitted to SEAB, where only authorised personnel will be able to access the marks for further processing of the students’ final results.WILL THERE BE ANY CHANGES? Following the theft incident, Mr Gillespie noted that Cambridge is currently conducting a process and security review, including a “full scrutiny” of the delivery services offered by its supplier.Cambridge has received an apology from Parcelforce, the courier company involved, and their security department. The incident is under investigation by the UK police and Parcelforce's group security manager. 
Source: CNA/lc
Source : http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/from-exam-hall-to-cambridge-examiner-the-journey-your-exam-9994984