Exams guidance

Information and guidance on conducting exams – including regulations, question papers and stationery, unforeseen circumstances and malpractice.


Prepare for exams season with our video walkthrough on planning and conducting exams, including invigilation and what to do if the unexpected happens.


OxfordAQA has set regulations for schools that enter students for general qualifications.

These regulations: 

  • are re-issued each academic year 
  • set out the key administrative requirements 
  • reference the conduct of exams and special arrangements for individuals with particular requirements. 

Please see the General regulations and terms and conditions for approved centres (PDF) document.

Please see the Conflict of interest guidance (PDF) document.

Conducting exams

Instructions for conducting exams within your school, including invigilation and use of calculators, can be found in JCQ’s ICE document (external link).

You can use bilingual dictionaries in all our exams except:

  • International GCSE English as a Second Language 9280  
  • International GCSE English Language 9270 
  • International GCSE English Literature 9275
  • International AS and A-level English Language 9670 
  • International AS and A-level English Literature 9675
Centre inspection

We administer a Centre Inspection Service. We ask our colleagues at the British Council offices to carry out annual re-approval inspections on behalf of OxfordAQA. These inspections may take place without prior appointment. Please contact us as early as possible if you need to conduct your exams at a different site – email [email protected].

Malpractice and irregularities

You must have a secure storage area where you can store confidential exam materials such as question papers, answer booklets and supplementary booklets and sheets. See the requirements in JCQ’s ICE document (external link).

  • Please notify us immediately by emailing [email protected] if a parcel or one of the packets has been opened during transit and therefore there may have been a breach of security.
  • Please also tell us if material has been significantly damaged in transit or upon opening.
  • Read our Malpractice document (PDF) for more information on making an allegation and whistleblowing.
  • View our Malpractice FAQs.
Question papers and stationery

Information for schools about what we’ll send you, what you need to provide, and how to order extra exam stationery.

What your students will need

You’ll need to provide certain stationery to students on exam day in addition to what we’ll send you. The details are in the stationery summary lists on Centre Services. It’s also important that you check the instructions in your question paper pack to make sure you’re providing everything students need.

What we will send you

We’ll send you exam materials throughout the year. There are three types of exam materials we’ll send to you:

  1. Exam stationery and forms, which we’ll send based on your entries.
  2. Early question papers that we send or make available to you before exam day (sometimes called preliminary or pre-release).
  3. Exam day materials including question papers, answer booklets, attendance register and return sacks.

We will send the confidential materials for each series at outlined in the table below. Non-confidential items will be sent around the same time, but not in the same packages.

Exam seriesExam date / pre-release issueMaterial includedDispatch date
November series (BY22)14 October – 26 NovemberInternational GCSE speaking test and exam papersEarly – Mid October
January series
03 January – 19 JanuaryInternational AS and A-level exam papersMid November
May / June series
6X23 and 6Y23
31 March – 31 MayInternational GCSE speaking test and International AS/A-level and GCSE exam papers timetabled to take place in MayEarly March
May / June series
6X23 and 6Y23
01 June – 23 JuneInternational A-level and GCSE exam papers timetabled to take place in JuneMid April

It is important to note that if centres make entries later than one working week prior to the exam date it may not be possible to send you hard copy question papers in time for the exam.

Please be aware of the published entry closing dates to ensure smooth delivery of materials to your centre.

If you have not received your question papers, please contact us immediately on [email protected]

Exams stationery is non-confidential materials. Exams stationery dispatch includes:

  • S1 plastic sack to return the scripts in
  • Blank labels, to print the address to where the scripts will be returned to

Depending on the subjects centres make entries for, additional stationery may be sent if required. This may include:

  • Graph paper
  • S3 plastic sack for returning coursework

Attendance records will be provided to your centre for written exams, and are used by centres to record attendance of students on the day of exam. The centre returns a copy of the attendance record with the return of the scripts. Please keep a copy for your own records.

If your entries are very late, please order any additional stationery at the same time as making your late entry. We will endeavour to deliver this to you as soon as possible.

You will be able to download an attendance register from Centre Services.

Find out more about ordering additional exam stationery and creating an attendance register.

Question papers will always be in blue bags. We use colour-coded labels on the packets of question papers we send you, to help you on exam day.

Qualification  Question paper packet label colour 
International AS and A-level Blue
International GCSE White
Modified question papers Green
After the exam

Sending complete question papers (scripts) for marking

For each package of scripts, you will need to:

  • put the scripts and a copy of the attendance register in your dispatch sack;
  • count the number of scripts and record the number in the designated box on the front of the sack;
  • print and attach the right address label to the package;
  • make sure the delivery address on the DHL or courier packet is the same as the information provided on the address label;
  • add a line to your consignment tracker;
  • send your package for marking.

You can download a consignment tracker (XLS) here.

Visit our Detailed instructions for returning scripts page for further information.

Stationery requirements for returning NEA

Please refer to our Non-exam assessment (NEA) page to see information about stationery requirements to return NEA.

Conducting OxfordAQA International GCSE English as a Second Language Listening tests

Please refer to the Conducting OxfordAQA International GCSE English as a Second Language Listening tests guidance document for information about conducting OxfordAQA International GCSE ESL listening tests.

Returning International GCSE English as a Second Language speaking tests

Please refer to the International GCSE English as a Second Language Speaking Test Guidance (PDF) document for information about stationery requirements, returning speaking tests and how to use the stationery provided. 

We have some ShareFile guidance (PDF) and ShareFile troubleshooting to support you in sending speaking tests for marking.

Exam times and exam material availability for May/June series

If you need additional question papers they will be available for you to download and print from Centre Services on the day of the exam, 90 minutes before the start time of 7:00am GMT. This handy guide will provide your local time. Please note this is for guidance only and it is the exam scheduler’s responsibility to check calculations and ensure all exam timings and guidance are adhered to.

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