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What is a Timetable Deviation?

Timetable clashes occur when, for various reasons, candidates cannot take papers in the timetabled session. In some circumstances (for example, if candidates are taking different papers timetabled in the same session) schools can apply for a Timetable Deviation to avoid the clash. Schools cannot make Timetable Deviations unless Cambridge gives written consent and until they have received confirmation of their final entries. For each examination series, Cambridge sends a final version of the timetable to schools. For more information on Timetable Deviations, please refer to section 1.2 of the Cambridge Handbook, which you can find here for UK and International Centres. Please be careful to ensure that you are using the correct handbook. 

What is an acceptable reason for a Timetable Deviation?

All applications are considered on an individual basis. However, there are some well defined acceptable and unacceptable reasons which will assist you when deciding whether or not to make an application.

Acceptable reasons:

  • A Clash between examinations which Cambridge has timetabled in the same session (except prohibited syllabus combinations), that exceed the time allowance. Candidates are assumed to be capable of taking examinations of up to 6 hours, duration in one day.
  • A clash with an examination of a different awarding body in a different subject where the recommended number of hours is exceeded.
  • Circumstances outside the control of the candidate that prevent him/her taking the examination at the scheduled time (for example, a hospital appointment, attendance at court).
  • Participation of candidates in events at an international level.

Unacceptable reasons:

  • A clash with another awarding body's examination at the same level and in the same subject or a subject with significant overlapping content.
  • Being required to sit three or more different subject papers on the same day.
  • A clash with a school function or school closure.
  • Participation in national or local events.
  • Holidays (for example family holidays, public holidays, national holidays, religious holidays).

How do I resolve a clash of examinations?

It is up to the Head of Centre to suggest arrangements for resolving a clash of two or more papers. The proposals should make it possible for candidates to take the papers on the day on which they are timetabled. If this is not possible the time of the examination can be moved to no more than 24 hours. Candidates are never allowed to take an examination on an earlier day than that scheduled on the timetable.

If candidates are taking two or more examinations in a session, the school may decide the order in which to carry out these examinations. The school can also allow a supervised break between the papers within the session. The school must follow all arrangements for invigilating candidates during and between examinations, and make sure the question papers remain secure.

What if I do not have enough space for all my candidates?

Schools that do not have enough equipment or space for all of their candidates to take a examination at the same time may arrange one or more extra sessions. Schools intending to hold extra sessions must submit a Timetable Deviation request as soon as possible and at least four weeks before the day of the examination.

Schools do not need to list the candidates concerned when submitting the form. However, the school must make accurate seating plans and attendance records for each session and keep these until the end of the result enquiry period. For practical examinations, the school must supply copies of the seating plan and attendance records with the supervisor’s report.

The examination may be taken by several groups in different sessions, with staff supervision to make sure that security is maintained. There must be no contact between groups taking examinations in different sessions and all conduct must comply with the regulations for Key Time and Full Centre Supervision.

What Supervision is required?

Supervision, because of a Timetable Deviation, should normally be carried out by school staff, from the end of one examination and/or session to the beginning of the second examination and/or session. Schools should also undertake this supervision if the candidate(s) travel(s) to an examination from another event or examination.

If it is not possible for school staff to supervise the candidate(s), Cambridge is prepared to accept supervision by another responsible adult acceptable to the school and the candidate. The Head of Centre must be satisfied that such an arrangement will maintain the security of the examination. Cambridge will hold the Head of Centre responsible if it is found that there has been any breach of regulations.

If an examination ends at or after the Key Time for the examination session then candidates can leave the examination room once the examination is finished, and no further supervision is required.

If an examination ends before the Key Time for the examination session then candidates can only leave the examination room if they are moved to another location, and kept under Full Centre Supervision until the Key Time.

If candidates need to leave the room during periods of Full Centre Supervision for whatever reason, they must be accompanied by a supervisor. Where there is only one supervisor, schools must make sure that the supervisor has the means to summons help without leaving the room unattended or disturbing candidates. Schools must also make sure that they have both male and female supervisors available to accompany candidates to the wash room if required.

How do I request a Timetable Deviation?

Schools should apply for a Timetable Deviation using an Preparation – Form 2 which is available from the Exams Officer section of our public website.

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