Be exam smart

Guidance for students, parents and schools to help students avoid making mistakes which could lose them marks or lead to disqualification from an exam.

Applies to England

Be Exam Smart


Don’t get caught out, make sure you know what you are allowed and not allowed to do when taking your GCSE, AS or A level exams.

Mobile phones and smartwatches

Keep mobile phones and smartwatches out of the exam room

Taking your mobile phone or smartwatch into the exam could cause you to lose marks or be disqualified from the exam. Make sure your devices are turned off and stored away from the exam hall, in accordance with instructions from your school or college.

Exam papers and questions on social media

Don’t share exam questions

If you think you’ve seen a paper or a question before the exam, chances are it’s probably fake, but don’t risk losing marks or being disqualified.

If you see something you suspect is a leak, you must report it immediately to your school or college exams officer or to the relevant exam board if that would be quicker.

If you have seen it on social media you could also report it to the platform on which you saw it.

Be prepared for your exam


  1. Make sure you know ahead of time where and when the exams are for each subject you’re taking.
  2. Know which items you’re allowed to take in for each exam, approved calculators are only allowed in some exams.
  3. Use a clear pencil case and, if taking in a water bottle, make sure the label has been removed.

Parents and carers

School and college exams are important milestones in every student’s life. Help your child maximise their outcomes by making sure they know the following.

Don’t take mobile phones or smartwatches into the exam

Don’t take mobile phones or smartwatches into the exam

Taking a mobile phone or smartwatch into the exam room can lead to your child losing marks, whether it is switched on or not. Encourage them to leave these items at home or to turn them off and hand them in before the exam, in accordance with the procedure issued by the school or college.

Report any suspicions of leaked questions or papers

Report any suspicions of leaked questions or papers

Most exam papers or questions seen on social media before an exam are fake but sharing them could risk disqualification. If your child has seen a post claiming to have an exam question or paper before the exam, they should immediately report it.

Help your child prepare

Help your child prepare for their exams by checking that they know:

  • the location, date and time of each exam for each of their subjects
  • the approved equipment required for each exam – for example: a clear pencil case, pen
  • that if they intend to take in a water bottle, any label must be removed
  • some equipment is only allowed in certain exams – for example: an approved scientific calculator can only be taken to specific maths exams
  • some items are totally prohibited – for example: mobile phones and smartwatches

Schools and colleges

Help your students to avoid committing malpractice in this year’s exams. Use our resources below when developing communications, assemblies or briefings to students and parents:

Other resources

Published 2 March 2020