I'm off in a minute to my first invigilation session for the current round of examinations. It is not my favourite task in this job. It wouldn't be so bad if some other invigilators, support staff and students weren't so annoying at these times. I'll give you a few examples.
First, there are the staff who don't turn up at all for their invigilation session. It means that with fewer invigilators in the room than there ought to be you end up rushing about more than you should have to. And there are certain people who seem always to fail to turn up. When you see their names next to yours on the invigilation list your heart sinks as you know they won't turn up.
Then there are staff who turn up but don't really pull their weight. They just sit there reading or sometimes even marking, not responding to student requests for more paper or other questions that they might have. And then they maybe rush off at the end, not helping to clear up the room after the exam has finished.
Worse still are the staff who have set an exam paper that has an error in it, and then they are not there at the beginning of the exam or even available at the end of a phone to help sort out the mistake.
Support staff are generally OK but on one occasion I did get the wrong exam paper delivered to the room. Sometimes there are not enough exam papers or scripts to go round which causes a delay to the exam. We also have a number of "professional" invigilators who can on occasions be a bit authoritarian. It is true that part of their duties may be to read out the exam regulations and to warn students about potential exam offences for which they will be punished. But sometimes the tone is such that even I get unsettled. A calmer and more sympathetic voice would help put students at their ease at what is inevitably a nervous time.
Mind you the students too can be annoying. There will be those that just don't turn up, or turn up late saying they got the wrong time or their alarm didn't go off. Some just come in for the minimum time and leave the exam having hardly answered any of the paper. They have just arrived to register a technical attendance. It is annoying to have to set and mark so many resit papers. In the old days when there were fewer students we would chase up non-attenders at their homes to try to get them to the exam but we just can't think about that any more.
These days so many students seem to need to go to the toilet during the exam. I think the accounting students are the worst. It makes me wonder if some of them are cheating as you can't follow them into the toilet cubicles and they could be texting or using their mobile phones to get help.
Then there are the students who won't stop writing at the end of the exam. They really push you to the limits of your patience because of course if they go on too long you should be noting this down as an exam offence. Of course you also do get the occasional student that you catch cheating. This will then involve you with a lot of paperwork. I wouldn't mind that if the university authorities would back this up with suitably draconian punishments but all too often the risk of being caught is small and the penalty imposed is rather light.
Then there are the mobile phones that go off in the bags that the students have left at the front of the room. You have asked them to switch off all mobile phones but there always seems to be one who has forgotten. Or maybe it just a time alarm that they have set. Either way it usually takes a few minutes to identify the phone and get it switched off.
Right. That has got a few things off my chest. Let's hope today's exam has none of these annoyances!