Exams administration: information for exam centres

What exam centres should do when planning and running exams.

This guidance was withdrawn on

You can find up-to-date guidance about exams administration on the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) website.

Exam centres must conduct exams and assessments for general qualifications in accordance with the Joint Council for Qualifications’ (JCQ) regulations and awarding bodies’ instructions. This includes vocational qualifications.

The head of the exam centre is responsible for making sure all exams and assessments are conducted properly.

Formulating an exams policy

It is good practice for exam centres to have an exams policy. An effective exams policy clearly sets out:

  • the process the centre will follow to plan and manage exams
  • the roles and responsibilities of different members of staff in relation to exams

You may want to use this exams policy template when formulating your centre’s exams policy.

Centres should also make sure they identify potential risks relating to the administration and management of exams so they can decide what measures to take to prevent and manage these risks.

You can use this risk management template to log any potential risks you have identified. The template can also help you start discussions with colleagues about the risks that might apply to your centre.

Planning for exams

When you are planning for exams, including vocational qualifications, make sure you:

  1. Refer to any guidance issued by the awarding organisation(s) of the exams that will be taken at your centre.
  2. Collate a record of the specification information for those exams.
  3. Put together a calendar of important administrative dates, including awarding organisation’s deadlines for making exam entries - you can find these dates on the JCQ website and the awarding organisation websites.
  4. Identify any students that may require special access arrangements and put any necessary arrangements in place.
  5. Make sure you include the exams officer in internal meetings and communications.

Making entries and avoiding late fees

You should make exam entries to the awarding organisations on time. Late entries may result in fees.

You should:

  1. Refer to your calendar of important dates to make sure you are aware of the awarding organisations’ deadlines for exams entries.
  2. Communicate deadlines to members of staff so you can collect all the information you need well in advance of the exam entry deadlines.
  3. Submit exam entries by the awarding organisations’ deadlines.
  4. Put together a record of any entries you:
  • submitted late
  • withdrew
  • amended

Make sure you keep track of these entries - you can use this late entries, withdrawals and amendments tracker template.

Preparing for and running exam days

  1. Find out exam dates on awarding organisations’ websites and put together an exam timetable.
  2. Resolve any issues in your most recent JCQ inspection report.
  3. Train your invigilation staff using JCQ’s advice for invigilators on conducting examinations.
  4. Follow advice on your awarding organisations’ websites on running exam days.
  5. Make sure that arrangements for pupils who require special access are in place on exam day.

Running results day

Read JCQ guidance on running results day, including their advice on how long to retain unclaimed certificates.


It is good practice to conduct a review of your exam centre’s performance every year so you can improve and make possible savings on late exam fees. You may want to use this exams office review template.

Make sure you include your exams officer in any inset days and professional development activities taking place in your centre.

Support and advice

To keep up to date with information on reforms, training and the support available to you, visit JCQ, Ofqual and awarding organisations’ websites often. Sign up to any newsletters or email alerts they might offer.

You can also get advice from other centres or exams officer network groups in your local area.

Awarding organisations’ websites

These organisations offer general advice on qualifications:

Published 30 June 2014