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What if we have more candidates entered for a practical exam than can be accommodated at one time?

If more candidates are entered for a practical exam than can be accommodated at one time, you may divide candidates into two groups, or more, if necessary. All groups must take the exam on the same day, with the minimum delay between sittings. You must apply for our permission to hold additional sittings. Submit your request using Preparation – Form 8. Send it to with ‘Additional Sittings – Compliance’ in the subject line at least four weeks before the date of the affected exam. See instructions for ‘Additional sittings’ section 1.2.4 of the Cambridge Handbook 2024.  You do not need to list all candidates affected; however, you must make accurate seating plans and attendance registers for each sitting and attach these to the supervisor’s report. In addition, you must keep a copy of the forms until the end of the enquiries about results period.

You must plan to keep the groups apart until all candidates have taken the exam. Candidates waiting to take the exam must gain no knowledge of its contents. Security of the exam must be always maintained, and you may need to conduct periods of Full Centre Supervision.

See the ‘Key Times and Full Centre Supervision’ section and ‘Large number of candidates’ section of the Cambridge Handbook 2024.

Or use all available laboratories

Not all candidates taking an exam must be in the same laboratory. If suitable equipment and safety apparatus is available, you can seat candidates in all available laboratories.

Each laboratory should have a seating plan and a completed supervisor’s report, this will include the supervisor’s results produced using the same apparatus and chemicals as the candidates are using in their exam. Each laboratory must have at least two invigilators, one invigilator per 20 candidates, and a supervisor. The supervisor is normally a teacher of the subject or a technician. They are responsible for conducting the experiment out of sight of the candidates as specified in the confidential instructions and completing the supervisor’s report. While they do this you must have enough invigilators left with the candidates and one of the invigilators must be qualified to deal with any problems or safety matters see ‘Invigilation’ section of the Cambridge Handbook 2024.

For examples of how you might manage the number of candidates in practical exams see document ‘How to manage your science practical exams’ here .

You must follow our Key Time and Full Centre Supervision regulations when planning your exam timetable.

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