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Exam guidelines

We recommend that you arrive at least 30 minutes before your exams, which will allow you time to locate your room and compose yourself before the start.

Be prepared

Your exam candidate number

Your exam admissions notice

  • Please pay particular attention to your examination admission notice and ensure that it remains un-annotated throughout the examination period.
  • It should not be used as a scrap paper, and any notes found on it will be treated as an exam irregularity, regardless of whether the notes were written during the exam.

Your exam venue

  • We use a number of venues for exams, so you may not be sitting your exam in the main Birkbeck building. Please make sure you know where your exam will be held before the day of your exam and aim to arrive at the venue at least 30 minutes before the exam. (Your venue information will be included on your exam timetable.)

Arriving for your exam

What to do if you are running late for an exam

  • Please note that routine travel delays are not an acceptable reason for lateness, and you will not be allowed extra time because of it. In the event of transport strikes/inclement weather or other unforeseen events during the exam period, there will be regular updates on the My Birkbeck website advising you on what to do next. Only in the most severe adverse conditions will exams be cancelled and re-arranged.
  • If you arrive within a few minutes of the start time of an exam: you will be allowed access to the room, but you will not be allowed any additional time. Please make sure that you enter the room as quietly as possible so as not to disturb those who have already started the exam. Locate an invigilator who will help you find your desk.
  • If you know that you will be more that 30 minutes late for an exam, please call the Examinations and Assessment Office on +44 (0)20 3926 3028 to advise them. If your reason for being late is genuine and acceptable, we may be able to seat you in a different room for the full exam length. If not, you will be asked to attend in your allocated room for the remaining exam time if we can confirm that no other candidate has already left the exam.
  • If you are severely late for examinations, you will not be allowed to sit, regardless of the time remaining.

Personal items

  • We recommend that you deposit your personal items in the specified area of the exam room as indicated by the invigilators and only keep the items necessary for the exam on or near your desk.


  • You will be informed in advance if you are allowed to use either calculators or other source materials in your examinations.
    • Examination candidates using electronic calculators must not have an unfair advantage over candidates not using them. The unauthorised use of material stored in a pre-programmable memory will constitute academic misconduct. You are instructed to use a calculator without this facility.
    • You must state clearly on your script the name and model of electronic calculator you have used.
    • You are entirely responsible for ensuring that your calculator is in working order for the examinations. Where the calculator fails during the examination, you are responsible for ensuring in advance that you have alternative means of performing calculations. Birkbeck will not be able to provide you with one.


  • You cannot bring a dictionary to help you with your English in any examination. Any dictionaries found during an examination will be confiscated and the matter will be reported to the Examinations and Assessment Office.

Food and drink

  • You will be permitted to take a bottle of still liquid into your examinations. No other consumable items are permitted. If you bring refreshments other than still liquid, the invigilators will confiscate them for the duration of the exam.
  • If you have any special dietary issues that require you to take food and/or drink into an examination, please contact the Examinations and Assessment Office well in advance since we may need to set up a special examination provision for you.

Scrap paper

  • You are not permitted to bring in any paper to use for rough notes, and we will not hand out paper during the exam for this use. You must complete all work within the answer booklets provided. Any work that you do not wish to be marked, cross it through. Supplementary answer booklets will only be available once you can demonstrate you have completed the initial booklet to the invigilator. Do not use your exam admission notice as scrap paper since any notes found on this during the exam will be treated as an exam irregularity.

During the exam

Personal problems during the examination

  • If you have a legitimate problem during the exam, raise your hand and talk quietly to the invigilator. They cannot help you answer a question, but they will do their best to assist you if you are too hot, need a drink of water, if someone else in the room is causing a disturbance, if there is excessive noise from the street outside, or if you feel unwell.


  • You may need to take a breath of fresh air or a toilet break, and this is allowed; however, you will not be given additional time for the exam if you do take a break. We recommend that you do not leave the immediate vicinity of your exam room since to do so may arouse suspicion.

Errors in exam papers

  • Every care is taken to ensure the examination questions are correct; however, if you see what you think might be an error, bring it to the attention of the invigilator who will issue you with an Examination Paper Query Form. You should continue answering the question paper.


  • If you are taken ill during an exam, speak to the invigilator in the first instance. If you have to leave the exam owing to illness, you should submit an application on the basis of mitigating circumstances as soon as possible, and not more than seven days after the examination.

Exam irregularities

  • If you are suspected of cheating, attempting to cheat or of assisting someone else to cheat, the facts will be reported to the Examinations and Assessment Office and may be reported to your examiners. If you are found cheating, you may be disqualified from the examination and excluded from all future examinations of the University and/or the College. Any unauthorised notes or materials will be retained by the University and/or the College at its discretion. 
  • If you are found with unauthorised materials (whether by accident or on purpose), they will be confiscated and the incident will be reported to the Examinations and Assessment Office. Therefore, we recommend that you carefully check that you have nothing that could arouse suspicion anywhere near your examination desk. 
  • Find out more about assessment offences.