Advice for Awarding Organisations

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, here’s what to expect from us in the coming weeks and months.

We recognise and understand the enormous difficulty across the Exams sector. In these uncertain times, we’re committed to working hard to deliver exams where possible, while responding and adhering to the relevant Government and health authority guidance in all the countries we work in. Where it is not practical to continue exams as planned, we will work with you to prioritise the health and safety of candidates, staff and the wider community during the continually evolving situation.

If you have any questions, concerns or suggestions on how we can provide advice and support, please contact us.

Read our full corporate response, including a message from Chief Executive Sir Ciarán Devane. 

Professional and University candidates

Where exams are going ahead, additional health and safety measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of candidates, in line with those issued by the World Health Organisation and local health authority guidance.

Candidates: Exclusions and eligibility

All candidates will be asked to determine their eligibility to attend an exam session according to national, state or local government policy, instructions or guidelines.

Candidates may be required to sign a declaration form at the entrance of the exams area on exam day to confirm their eligibility to attend the session according to local health authority guidelines.

They will not be permitted to take the exam if they:

  1. have visited any places prohibited/requiring quarantine by the country government in the 14-day period prior to the exam dates.
  2. should now be under quarantine/self-isolation/leave of absence according to local guidance.
  3. have a high temperature, persistent cough, difficulty breathing or other flu-like symptoms.

Candidates aged under 18

Candidates under 18 are strongly recommended to be accompanied by an adult until the necessary checks at the entrance of the exams area have been completed. If they are then excluded from the test, they can leave with the accompanying adult or await collection in a waiting area.

Health and Safety: General information

As the situation continues to rapidly evolve, enhanced hygiene measures may be introduced in exam centres at short notice. Candidates will be required to be aware of, and prepared for, this possibility. Please note these are governed by the advice of local health authorities in the countries we operate in.

Health and Safety: Exam centre hygiene

Candidates should be reminded to follow basic hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing and/or using hand sanitisers. In addition, we would like candidates to note the following supplementary measures that will be implemented as precautionary steps for exam days.

  • All exam centres are thoroughly cleaned before the start of the exam date. ·
  • Additional time is required at the start of each exam for candidate health screening. ·
  • All equipment and computers are cleaned between each exam session. ·
  • Hand sanitizers or antibacterial wipes may be available at exam centres; however candidates should bring their own.
  • Temperature screening will take place in the exam centre before candidates enter the exams area. Candidates with symptoms of fever will not be permitted to sit the exam.
  • Masks may be worn by candidates and invigilation staff on exam days; candidates should bring their own.
  • Candidates will be asked to take any stationery used during the exam away with them except for scratch paper, notes or workings sheets.

Health and Safety: Temperature checks

Exam centres may deploy temperature screening if required by local health authorities. Any exam centres deploying temperature screening at venues will need to meet stringent guidelines.

Health and Safety: Use of face masks

  • Candidates as well as exam centre staff and examiners may bring and choose to wear a face mask during any part of the exam. Both surgical masks and N95 masks are acceptable.
  • All candidates wearing a mask are required to temporarily remove it during registration, ID checks and after any toilet breaks. This is to allow invigilation staff to check the inner side for notes or devices concealed inside the masks. Please note that invigilators have been instructed not to touch those masks.
  • Some exam centres, in line with their local country guidance, may provide masks to exam centre staff and candidates, and even make it mandatory. If masks are a mandatory requirement by local authorities, a limited number of masks may be available depending on stock levels.

Supplementary signage

Exam centres may have additional signage displaying public health information about the symptoms of coronavirus. The signage could be posters, leaflets or electronic bulletins.

Deferrals and/or refunds

Awarding organisations will be informed of any candidates not permitted to sit their exams due to the exclusion criteria so that refunds and/or deferrals can be arranged. Please contact us directly if you wish to discuss an alternative to this approach and exam centre staff can inform candidates at the time.

Communications and support: General information

Our Exams teams across all delivery countries are providing constant support and updates in response to the rapidly evolving situation. We will continue to work remotely to maintain client operations and communication across time zones and geographical boundaries, no matter where we are.

Communication and support: Planning for exam delivery

With the disruption caused by the closure of exam sessions and the impact on your business, the aim is to be back up and running as soon as is safely feasible. As a global organisation experienced in delivering exams, we are exploring a range of solutions, such as future ways of working, new technologies and improved candidate experiences to help plan for now, and the longer term.

Communication and support: Continuous communications

We continue to monitor the situation in all exam locations daily and will share updated guidelines in line with the latest scientific advice and local health authority guidance closer to the next, planned exam session. This will vary across locations globally.

Communication and support: Candidate Communications

We can help prepare candidates on what to expect when the time comes for the next exam session. Templates have been developed that will aid candidates understanding about new regulations at exam centres, such as temperature checks, health and travel self-declaration forms and guidance on use of face masks.

All contingency plans and decisions on exam arrangements/cancellations are in line with the latest national/state government guidelines. If you have any queries, please contact the dedicated Covid-19 team email address.

School Exams 

As the Covid-19 outbreak develops, we are hearing your messages about the significant disruption and uncertainty caused for your teachers, students and parents. Alongside our Exam Board partners and Ministries of Education, we will continue to provide up to date and clear guidance on school exams in your country. If you have any questions about the latest announcements from our Exam Board partners not to run international examinations in May/June 2020 worldwide, please contact your local British Council office, which can be found at the bottom of this page ‘British Council Worldwide’. 

We know this is a challenging time for students, and how hard they have been working towards their exams. As ever, our number one priority is the safety and welfare of your candidates, and we will share more information as we receive it. For the most up to date information please refer to our Exam Board partners (links at the bottom of the page.)

To help improve the learning experience for students, more resources for teachers are now available through our dedicated resource Partner School Global Network platform. Please encourage all teachers at PSGN schools to actively make use of it. 

Cambridge Assessment English candidates

In many countries the current Covid-19 situation means that the delivery of Cambridge English qualifications across our network has been suspended in line with the national health guidelines.

We are working closely with our valued partner, Cambridge Assessment English, to provide ongoing guidance to all those candidates and institutions affected. As ever, our number one priority is the health and safety of customers and staff.

Read the full Cambridge Assessment English response to Covid-19.

Your local British Council exams team will continue to provide regular updates on the status of exams, and we would also encourage you to check your local country websites for the most up-to-date information about alterations to the exam session calendar.

At this challenging time, there are still lots of innovative ways to prepare for exams and resources available to help do that. Teachers and learners will be able to find supporting materials through Cambridge Assessment English and your local British Council exam centre will share and give access to a range of useful resources for individual candidates and Addvantage members.

The thoughts of all of us here at the British Council are with you at this incredibly challenging time.

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