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Question papers FAQs: including Storage, Missing papers, damaged papers and when to open

How should question papers be stored?

Question papers must be stored unopened in a place of high security, ideally a strong safe. Schools must keep the safe (or suitable alternative container) in a securely locked room with access and key holding restricted to only two or three authorised persons. Further details of the requirements for secure storage can be found in the Cambridge Handbook, which can be downloaded from the Examinations Officer section of the public website.

What should I do if I suspect that question papers are missing from the despatch?

Question paper packets should be checked carefully on receipt. Cambridge should be notified immediately of any discrepancies between the material received and the despatch note and if there appears to have been any possible breach of security whilst in transit.

For more information, please refer to section 4.1 of the Cambridge Handbook, which can be downloaded from the Examinations Officer section of the public website.

What should I do if question paper packets or other confidential materials are damaged when they arrive at my school?

Cambridge must be notified immediately if despatches arrive damaged or if it appears that there has been any possible breach of security whilst in transit. Photographs of the damage should be sent to Cambridge and the confidential materials should be stored securely in line with Cambridge regulations. Once notified of the damage, Cambridge will provide instructions on what you should do next.

When can I open the question papers?

Packets of question papers and other examination materials must not be opened until the time appointed for the examination concerned, except in the circumstances detailed below.

  • Confidential material such as Confidential Instructions for practical examinations are required to be opened in advance of the examination.
  • Certain literature question paper packets for plain texts or open books examinations may be opened one hour in advance of the examination in order to check the page references to specific editions of the texts.
  • Where confidential material is pre-recorded on CDs or other media arrangements must be made, prior to the examination, for such material to be tested in accordance with the instructions issued by Cambridge. Any deficiencies or other problems must be reported immediately.
  • Schools must open erratum notices as soon as they are received, unless otherwise stated on the envelope.

For more information, please refer to section 4.2 of the Cambridge Handbook.

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