After an exam invigilator announces “Pens Down!”, students slink into a mild stupor and its time for invigilators to collect and count exam papers. And we are in mild frenzy mainly because we don’t want to hold up that poor student, desperate for a visit to the loo, especially on cold mornings!
We do have to verify we have the correct number of scripts or else we ARE in trouble. And there can be multiple things to collect. And MCQ forms are particularly tricky to collect and count because its hard to lift a single form with your thumb!
So how and when do we strategise to make this as painless as possible?
Well, last week at the LSM2251 Ecology and the Environment exam, there were the five of us in a hall with five rows of tables – so that was easy, I allocated us a row each.
Once we got the students started and had verified identities (could they really get an impostor to sit for their paper, one wonders!), I went to sniff around S16. Exactly as I had suspected, there was a room where extra tables had been stacked aside for the exam period.
I extracted four tables and placed them at two ends of the hall – due to lack of space in the hall, the rear two were placed out in the hallway, at the far end of the corridor.
At the end of the exam, I hollered that “pens down” announcement. Then I asked the 133 undergraduates in my hall to stack their Q & A paper, Answer booklet and MCQ Form in that specific order, ready for collection. That brought students out of their typical post-exam stupor and they obligingly held that exact stack out for us to collect. This was done quickly with good understanding, like a well oiled rugby team.
Two invigilators collected scripts from the back to the front of their rows, while the other two collected them from front to end. Then they made their way to the four separate tables where they had enough space and isolation to separate out the three types of papers and count in peace.
My smaller stack of 12 sets was easily sorted and counted at the small invigilators table.
Then I peeked out into the hallway to await the thumbs up from Amanda and Weiting. It wasn’t long before they signalled and a corresponding thumbs up from the two invigilators in the hall, I was allowed to dismiss 133 patiently waiting undergraduates.
It worked so well, I tried it at the LSM3261 exam. Not bad too, so I will do so this with the larger LSM1103 class. I remarked to students I would be doing this in the exam advisory email I sent them.
And that’s what we do during invigilation – plan for a quick getaway!