Notes for students and scribes about the roles, responsibilities and limitations of a scribe or reader during examinations.
Role of a scribe
- A scribe (or amanuensis) writes down a student's dictated answers to questions in an examination. In some cases a scribe can act as a reader as well.
- The scribe may type or hand-write a student’s answers. This needs to be agreed.
- The scribe must write exactly what the student tells them to write, and must not paraphrase or edit the student’s answers (even if he/she thinks that the answer doesn’t make sense).
- The scribe/reader (at a student’s request) can read back the answers so that the student can edit their work if necessary.
- Generally, the scribe is responsible for spelling unless otherwise has been agreed. However, the student should be prepared to spell any technical words and give the main punctuation. The student may ask the scribe to alter either at any time and the scribe must comply.
- If the scribe types the answers, the spell check facility cannot be used.
- The scribe should make sure all details (name, candidate number, etc) are correctly completed.
- The scribe should make sure all answers are clearly numbered.
- The scribe should make sure that any materials deleted by the student are cleared or crossed through.
The following points are NOT negotiable:
- The scribe/reader should under no circumstances indicate by any word or action that he/she thinks the student has made a mistake. This includes gesture, hesitation, speech or written word.
- The scribe/reader should under no circumstances prompt the student with regard to the content of the exam answer.
- Communication between the scribe/reader and the student is permitted only when:
- The scribe asks the student to slow the pace of dictation because he/she is unable to keep up.
- The scribe needs to ask for repetition of a phrase he/she has forgotten or words that he/she didn't hear or understand.
Role of a reader
- A reader reads aloud to a student any exam papers, any instructions, and any answers that the student has dictated.
- A reader may only read what the student asks to be read.
- A reader may only read when the student asks.
- A reader must stop reading when the student tells to stop
- The reader may read aloud the question to the student as many times as needed.
- Communication between the reader and the student is permitted only when the reader needs to ask the student what paragraph or question to read again in case the student wasn't clear.
- A reader must read the exam paper exactly how it is written and is not allowed to rephrase or explain the content of the question.
- The reader should under no circumstances prompt the student with regard to the content of the exam answer.
General guidelines for scribes / readers
Who is responsible for arranging a scribe and / or reader?
The examination centre is responsible for the arrangement of a scribe or reader unless alternative arrangements have been agreed.
The University of London will inform students of any special examination arrangements that they have been granted including the use of a scribe or reader where appropriate.
When students receive the confirmation from the University they need to contact their exam centre to arrange for a scribe or reader in good time prior to any examination.
The University will contact the Examination Centre to confirm these arrangements.
How to select a scribe / reader
The scribe or reader should be someone who:
- has no personal interest in the success of the candidate
- is not a relative of the candidate
- is not a teacher who is involved in the candidate's study of the subject
- is not a student taking the same course as the candidate
- has clear and legible handwriting.
Arranging a practice session
We recommend that students have a practice session with their scribe/reader. To arrange this, you should contact your Examination Centre prior to the examinations and find out if it is possible to have a practice session with the scribe/reader who will assist you during exams.
- The student or the Exam Centre should provide the scribe with pens, paper, or computer (if relevant).
- The scribe and/or reader and student should use a separate room for the exam with an invigilator.
- The student must be able to see the script or computer monitor throughout the duration of the exam.
- Where possible the same scribe/reader should be provided for all exams.
- We recommend that the student meets the scribe or reader 15 minutes before the exam begins to discuss the following:
- How are notes to be made? Are they to be made by the scribe on the script, or, where a limited amount of writing is possible, by the student on a separate sheet or using special equipment?
- Punctuation and spelling? Does the student want to give only the main punctuation, leaving the rest to the scribe, or would they dictate every punctuation mark? Would the student spell every technical word or should he/she wait for the scribe to ask?
- Does the student want to be reminded of the time and how often?
Notes for Students
- It is your responsibility to describe diagrams in detail, dictate answers clearly, ask the scribe to read what has been written down, indicate headings and paragraphing, direct the scribe about the format of presentation of the answers, clarify spellings, symbols and terminology.
- Your scribe will only write exactly what you ask him/her to write.
- If you can't read your scribe's writing you can ask for the word or words to be read to you.
- Don't give up if you have to ask for something to be rewritten several times.
- Make sure all questions are clearly numbered and all corrections are clearly indicated.
- Make sure that all your details such as name and candidate number are correctly completed.