This blog has been updated to amend the information originally published on 10 May 2016 and 10 May 2017.
The June 2018 exam season is now underway and we often get asked about the process of returning candidates’ scripts: how it works and what constitutes best practice. With that in mind, we’ve identified the issues which can occur when returning scripts – and how best to avoid them!
When you return scripts to us:
The exam papers are then made available on our systems so our examiners can securely log in and mark them.
When scripts are sent to us to be scanned, they sometimes arrive with more or fewer pages than expected – we’ve included some examples of this below. This can sometimes delay the marking process until the issue is resolved so, to make sure your candidates’ scripts don’t encounter any problems, you might also find our top tips useful:
Scripts from different exams in the same question paper packet
Top tip: Don’t put scripts from different exams into the same question paper packet, even if the address label for both is the same. When we receive scripts, we scan the bar or unit code on the yellow Parcelforce label which you attach to the outside of the question paper packet. All the scripts in the packet are then scanned and digitally ‘attached’ to that code. Although we make every effort to spot issues, putting scripts from different exams in the same packet means they might be matched to the wrong unit or component and this can cause delays in marking.
Top Tip: Please don’t use treasury tags or staples to attach any additional answer booklets or word-processed pages to the script. All fastenings are removed as soon as the question paper packets are opened and removing them can slow down the process of scanning the papers. Instead, place the additional sheets inside the question paper or answer booklet so they will all be scanned together:
The only exception to this is if you are printing PDFs onto coloured paper – please staple the sheets together before giving them to your candidates.
Using non-OCR answer booklets
Sometimes the answer booklets returned to us are from other exam boards or have been produced in-house by a centre. This causes issues at both the scanning and indexing stages – there are no bar codes on the papers for us to scan and all candidate and centre details are in different places on the paper.
Top tip: Please make sure you only use OCR booklets for OCR exams. We have to check whether we’ve been sent an exam paper intended for another exam board and this can take some time! Once we establish whether the paper is meant for us it’s sent to an examiner to be traditionally, rather than digitally, marked. If it’s for another exam board then we’ll transfer it to them – but this does delay the marking process.
Top tip: If a candidate sits two exams one after another then please don’t let them use the same answer booklet for both exams. When the question papers are scanned, their answer to the second exam could be missed as the paper is digitally ‘attached’ to the bar or unit code shown on the front of the exam paper. Our missing scripts team will always try to track these down in the system but it might mean that the candidate’s result is not issued on time.
Sending back empty script envelopes
Each year we receive empty envelopes and, because we need to be certain that no exam papers have been lost in transit, we investigate each case – which prevents us focusing on legitimate missing script investigations.
Top tip: Keep empty script envelopes – as long as they’re within the ‘use by date’, they can be used again. If not, they can be securely destroyed.
Photocopied/downloaded question papers
Occasionally, you might need to download and print and/or photocopy emergency question papers. If you copy pages as single sided sheets, the blank side will also be scanned, causing our system to recognise twice as many pages as there should be!
Top tip: if you need to photocopy exam papers, if you can, try to produce them double-sided. That way we’ll be able to process the scripts as normal. If you do copy single-sided then we still mark the scripts but we may have to send them to an examiner to be marked traditionally, rather than digitally, which can take longer.
Helen O'Leary - Senior Customer Support Manager
Since joining Cambridge Assessment in 2004, Helen has worked in many areas of the organisation, starting her career with Cambridge International Examinations, before taking up her role in 2011 as Senior Customer Support Manager for OCR.
Helen's role is extremely varied and she considers herself really lucky to get to meet many of OCR's customers, across a wide variety of educational contexts. She is passionate about great customer service and loves to hear about what OCR get right, as well as what could be improved, so that OCR can provide an enhanced customer experience.
In this blog series, you’ll hear from a variety of experts across OCR and the wider organisation. Helen hopes you find the information useful and if there’s anything that you would like to see featured then please do get in touch.