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How To Become An Exam Invigilator

Do you need to earn some extra money, but only have limited time available? Then why not look at how to become an exam invigilator? Find out what’s involved, how much you can earn and where to start looking.

how to become an exam invigilator
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How to become an exam invigilator

Over the last few years I’ve reviewed quite a few ways on how to make money on the side, and today is the turn of exam invigilators.

I don’t remember much from my school days, or at least when it comes to working. However, I do remember exams and sitting in a boiling hot hall, staring blankly at my test paper. And I also recall watching the adults walk up and down constantly, without a care in the world as I struggled with spelling my name.

I always thought that invigilators were always teachers, but I recently found out they were members of the public. And believe it or not, people actually get paid to be an exam invigilator. Their job is to ensure that examinations are conducted according to the current Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) instructions for conducting examinations.

Luckily, during a casual conversation, I found out that my friend Stacie has worked as an invigilator for the last few years. She agreed to answer some questions about her part-time role.

Who can become an invigilator?

Most people can do it and you don’t need any special training. The school just gives you a short talk about how it all works and what is expected. And for obvious reasons, they also pay for you to have a DBS check.

So you don’t need any qualifications?

This does depend on who you work for, but in most cases, becoming an exam invigilator doesn’t need any particular qualifications. They do look for people with a particular set of skills (not the Liam Neeson type). It’s recommended that you:

  • good organisational skills
  • good communication skills
  • good with IT
  • able to work in a team
  • able to follow rules and regulations

What are an exam invigilator’s duties?

Your main role is to make sure that everybody stays quiet during the exam and nobody is cheating. But, there can be a lot more to it. For example, you may be required to act as a prompt. Some children lose concentration during exams, so they need somebody to keep telling them to stay focused. Other children may need you to read out the questions, whilst others may actually need you to write the answers. That’s not as bad as it sounds though as it means the student isn’t marked on spelling and grammar.

Other jobs may involve preparing and labelling desks, setting out identity cards and equipment and write up all the exam information on the whiteboard.

The GCQ states that an invigilator’s role is to

  • ensure all candidates have an equal opportunity to demonstrate their abilities
  • ensure the security before, during and after the examination
  • preventing candidate malpractice
  • preventing administrative failures
  • liaising with the senior invigilator and examination officer
  • be familiar with JCQ’s ‘Instructions for Conducting Examinations’,
  • give their full attention to conducting the examination properly
  • able to observe each candidate in the examination room at all times
  • inform the head of centre if they are suspicious of the security of the exam papers

Any downsides to being an invigilator?

You can’t take a mobile phone or even a book in the exam room. It means that it can be very boring.

The job also comes with quite a bit of responsibility. If a child is being disruptive, it’s down to you whether they should be removed from the room which usually means they end up failing their exam. It’s obviously their fault if they’re causing a lot of noise, but it’s still not a nice thing to do.

Some exams are far easier to invigilate compared to others. Last year I was monitoring a mock exam and I tripped on some carpet and almost fell over. The kids thought this was hilarious and several of them lost concentration. I spent the next couple of hours trying to keep them quiet but it didn’t really work. At the end of the exam, I had to report them to their teacher. Fortunately, it was only a mock, but they would have been referred to the exam board if it had been a real exam.

It can be quite tiring as well, especially if you have an exam that goes on for over 2 hours.

So, can an invigilator sit down?

Believe it or not, you are not supposed to sit down. You can for a minute or two to help you rest, but you’re there to keep an eye on those taking the tests and you can’t do that from a chair!

What should you wear?

Invigilators need to wear comfortable, but smart clothing. For men, this is generally a shirt and tie and for women, a smart top with trousers or a skirt. And most importantly, you need to make sure you wear some quiet shoes. You don’t want to be disturbing the whole room when you walk about.

What kind of working hours do you do and how often do you work?

You can work anytime between 8 and 4, although the majority of exams take place before and after lunch. Occasionally, exams will take place at different times if there is a timing clash or there are children who need special assistance.  

You work on an ad-hoc basis. The school usually sends out an email or text to all the invigilators when they need cover and the 1st to reply usually gets the job. The majority of work comes between mid-May and mid-June, although there can be IT exams any time between November and January.

How much does an exam invigilator get paid?

I earn between £9 and £10 per hour. But pay can vary between local authorities and schools. I know that closer to London, invigilators are paid more.

Would you recommend it?

Yes, I quite enjoy it. However, because the dates are limited to when you can work, it’s far more suited to somebody who works part-time (which I do) or somebody who has retired.

I hope Stacie has helped you answer some of the questions you may have about working as an exam invigilator. Obviously, the Kent-Teach link above is specific to Kent, so you will need to check your local authority’s site. The best time to start looking is a couple of months before exams start.

How do you become an exam invigilator?

Also keep an eye out in local papers and even on Facebook. The below advert is one that I saw recently. You can visit your local authority site to find jobs. In Kent, for example, you can visit Kent-Teach  although some jobs are listed in local papers.

facebook exam invigilator advert

If you’re looking for other ways to make money, why not take a look at my post on how to make money on the side?


What makes a good exam invigilator

You need attention to detail, be able to communicate with staff and students, an ability to work to predetermined instructions and good concentration skills.

How many invigilators are needed in an exam?

For general written exams, you need one invigilator for every 30 students.

Do exam invigilators pay tax?

If you earn over the personal threshold limit (currently £12,500 in the UK), you will need to pay tax.

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