This blog has been updated for the June 2019 series.
The June 2019 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 that can occur when returning completed question papers – or scripts – and how best to avoid them!
When you return scripts to us:
The scripts are then made available on our systems so our examiners can securely log in and mark them.
Below are some examples of things that can go wrong. These issues 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:
Completing the attendance register
Top tip: Make sure you complete your attendance register accurately. All candidates need to be marked as either present or absent (or transferred or withdrawn where applicable). Remember to add the details of candidates not printed on the attendance register, e.g. late entries or pirate candidates.
Scripts from different exams in the same script envelope
Top tip: Don’t put scripts from different exams into the same script envelope, even if the address label for both is the same. When we receive scripts, we scan the barcode on the yellow Parcelforce label which you attach to the outside of the script envelope. 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 additional answer booklets, word-processed pages or cover sheets to the script. All fastenings are removed as soon as the script envelopes are opened and removing them can slow down the process of scanning the papers. Instead, place the additional booklets/sheets inside the question paper or main answer booklet so they will all be scanned together:
The only exception to using additional fastenings 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 as there are no barcodes 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 marked, rather than digitally. 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 barcode shown on the front of the exam paper. We 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.
Attaching an incorrect address label
When script return envelopes are returned to us with either an incorrect address label or no label at all, this can delay the marking process. The information held on the label allows the scripts to be sent to the correct scanning company and means we can match your candidates’ scripts with their entries. The labels also provide tracking information through our courier system.
Top tip: Only attach one label per packet, making sure the unit or component number matches the scripts enclosed. If you have not received your labels within three days of an examination, you can request emergency replacement labels from Interchange.
Paul Jones - Senior Customer Support Manager
Paul is the Senior Customer Support Manager. The Customer Support Team provides support, training and guidance for centres administering OCR qualifications. Before joining the Customer Support Team Paul worked in the Operational Hub and as a Qualifications Manager. His experience in these roles has given Paul a diverse range of knowledge that helps to assist and support our customers.