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Previously Information sheet 46 Written examinations — instructions to SACE coordinators

Information for SACE coordinators about the conducting of written external examinations.

SACE coordinators must read these instructions before the examination period begins and refer to the following:

(08) 8115 4700
Monday to Friday, 8.30 am - 5 pm

Before the examination

As a SACE coordinator responsible for examinations, you are to:

  • be responsible for receiving and keeping safe all documents and materials sent for use in the examinations (see Information sheet 48 for guidelines on safe storage)
  • prepare a timetable showing the names of invigilators and the examination rooms in which they will supervise each examination subject
  • ensure that invigilators have:
    • a copy of the 'day-by-day instructions to invigilators’ (emailed by the SACE Board before the start of the examinations)
    • SACE Board copy of the examination attendance roll
    • instructions for the administration of approved special provisions (if any)
    • emergency contact details for contacting the SACE coordinator and the principal or the principal’s delegate during the examination
    • student name labels and SACE registration number labels
    • stationery (i.e. scribbling paper and, if appropriate, script books)
    • a CD/MP3 and CD/MP3 player (if necessary)
  • ensure that students have been instructed to arrive at the examination venue in time to be admitted to the examination room about 15 minutes before the scheduled start time for the examination, and to bring their examination attendance slip
  • ensure that teachers do not invigilate any subject that they teach.

There must be at least one invigilator in each examination room throughout the examination and while any student is in the room. Invigilators may be relieved from time to time, provided that there is always at least one invigilator in the room.

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Preparation of the examination room

  • Check that diagrams, maps, and other teaching aids have been placed out of sight of the students.
  • Check the quantity of each stationery item that is delivered before examinations begin, and at intervals during the examination period. The SACE Board will specify the materials to be sent to each examination centre. Contact the SACE Board if there is a discrepancy, or if the package does not arrive in time for the first examination to be sat at the school.
  • The covers of the script books are colour-coded to help identify their size . Ensure that you use the correct script book for each examination: blue — 8 ruled pages; orange — 16 ruled pages.
  • Distribute all examination materials  except for the question booklets  and reference materials where applicable before students enter the room.
  • Ensure that seating is arranged either in single desks in alternate rows or with one student at each dual desk. Students must be seated in such a way that invigilators can move about freely as required, without disturbing anyone. As a guide, there should be about 1.5 metres from centre to centre between single, movable desks.
  • Check that a suitable clock has been placed where all students can see it, or that arrangements have been made for times to be written on a board for all to see.
  • Ensure that if an examination requires the use of a compact disc (CD) player and a compact disc, these have been checked and are working correctly.
  • A pair of labels, consisting of a student name label and a SACE registration number label, is provided for each student for each examination. The pairs of labels are printed in ascending order of SACE registration number so that they match the order on the examination attendance roll. Ensure that the student name labels are set out on the desks in the numerical order that is printed on the examination attendance roll.

Special provisions

  • ​​​​​Any adjustments to external assessment conditions approved by the SACE Board during the year are recorded in a letter sent to the student via the SACE coordinator.
  • Advise invigilators of SACE Board-approved adjustments, and any school-approved adjustments, together with instructions for the administration of approved special provisions.

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Examination materials

Question booklets

Question booklets will be packed in sealed transparent plastic with a cover sheet so that they can be identified from the front covers and the quantity can be confirmed.

Check the cover sheet to ensure that there are enough question booklets for the school’s needs.

Each package of question booklets must be opened only in the examination room, immediately before the question booklets are distributed to students.

This procedure may be varied only when multiple rooms are used. In this case, you may open the package of question booklets in an examination room in time to sort the question booklets for the various rooms.

Reference materials

Formula sheets and other reference materials are no longer included as tear-out sheets within the question booklets. These are now separate reference materials that accompany the question booklets. This change applies for the following subjects:

  • Accounting
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematical Methods
  • Mathematics Studies
  • Physics
  • Specialist Mathematics

Length of examinations and reading time

The length of examinations will be presented in minutes only and will incorporate the 10 minutes previously referred to as 'reading time'. For example, an examination that once had a duration of 2 hours and 10 minutes will have a duration of 130 minutes.

There will no longer be a dedicated reading time, but students are encouraged to use the allocated examination time to read texts and questions carefully, plan their answers, and familiarise themselves with the examination before they begin writing their answers, or using an approved calculator (where applicable) in their examination paper.

English as an Additional Language and some languages examinations are an exception to this change. Refer to the subject-specific day-by-day instructions to invigilators.


If there is a shortage of question booklets on the day of the examination, and if it is not possible for the SACE Board to send additional papers in time for the start of the examination, you may photocopy extra booklets for distribution to students.

As SACE coordinator, you must authorise such copies by initialling the front cover.

Scribbling paper

Ensure that a record is kept of the colour of the scribbling paper distributed at each examination to help the SACE Board to investigate any allegations of cheating.

Checking CD/MP3 players and CDs/MP3s

A number of examinations in languages and music require students to listen to a compact disc (CD) or MP3. Subject-specific day-by-day instructions for English as an Additional Language, Music Studies, and languages examinations give details of examination times, including reading times.

  • Read these instructions before the examination.
  • Ensure that the invigilators familiarise themselves with the instructions well before the start of the examination — at least the day before, if not earlier.
  • Ensure that CD players to be used for the examinations are checked. If you have a CD player that holds more than one disc, ensure on the day of the examination that all CDs not related to the examination are removed.
  • A laptop computer with external speakers may be used instead of a CD player. The laptop must not face students. The laptop and the speakers must be checked prior to the examination.
  • •    Check each CD/MP3, in full, in time for any faulty CD/MP3 to be replaced if necessary. This check is to ensure that the CD has not been damaged in transit and that all the recorded information is clearly audible. SACE coordinators, not teachers of the subjects, must make this check. In the event that the SACE coordinator is also a teacher of the subject, or has a conflict of interest with the subject, the principal or the principal’s delegate must appoint an appropriate staff member to make this check.
  • •    Ensure that the CDs/MP3s are checked using the CD/MP3 player(s) or laptop computer(s) that will be used on the day of the examination. Strict security must be observed during the test-playing of the CDs/MP3s. Notify askSACE or phone (08) 8115 4700 immediately if you need a replacement CD/MP3.


The SACE Board is committed to accommodating students who want to use a computer as an alternative to using a graphics calculator in external examinations for mathematics subjects.

Schools considering using computers in external examinations for mathematics subjects should contact askSACE or phone (08) 8115 4700 before the end of Term 3.

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During the examination

As SACE coordinator, you should be contactable throughout the examination to support the invigilators.

Requests for the use of a derived result (including emergencies)

Occasionally during an examination, a misadventure or an emergency incident (e.g. fire) necessitates urgent and prompt attention.

Ensure that all invigilators have the necessary means to seek immediate support from you, and/or the principal or the principal’s delegate, to appropriately manage such an incident.

The principal or the principal’s delegate must seek approval for any deviation from the standard examination procedure that they consider necessary. Contact askSACE or phone (08) 8115 4700 immediately for advice.

Complete Form 32 and send it as soon as possible to the SACE Board.

Refer to Written examinations — invigilation instructions (Information sheet 47). 

Students who arrive late due to circumstances beyond their control

A student who, because of misadventure, arrives late for an examination may be admitted to the examination room if all the following conditions are met:

  • the principal or the principal’s delegate recommends that a student be admitted
  • appropriate arrangements can be made to enable the student to complete the examination. The student is then allowed the full examination time
  • appropriate arrangements can be made to enable the student to undertake the examination without disrupting other students
  • the student understands that his or her question booklets / script books may not be accepted by the SACE Board. Advise the student of this condition, and complete Form 32 at the end of the examination. A statutory declaration fully describing the circumstances may be required for an individual student’s application. This should include a declaration by the student that he or she has had no communication with anyone who has had access to the contents of the examination.

For any student who arrives late, and where the principal or the principal’s delegate has recommended that the student be admitted to the examination room, instruct the invigilators to record the student’s time of arrival on the examination attendance roll.

Ensure that the invigilators highlight and sign the progress made by the student in all sections of the examination at the scheduled finish time.

Examinations with CDs/MP3s

For an examination that involves listening to a CD (i.e. English as an Additional Language, Music Studies, and languages), the timing of the examination may not allow students who arrive late to complete all aspects of the examination. In these cases, at the school’s discretion, it may be possible to reverse the order of the examination so that the student completes the listening section after the written section, and after all other students have left the examination room.

Students who arrive late and have no acceptable reason for lateness

A student who arrives more than 40 minutes after the scheduled start time for the examination, and has not suffered a misadventure, may be admitted to the examination room if the principal or the principal’s delegate recommends that the student be admitted. The student must stop writing by the scheduled finish time.

A student who arrives more than 40 minutes after the scheduled start time for the examination with no acceptable reason for being late, and who is not recommended by the principal or the principal’s delegate to be admitted, must not be admitted to the examination room.

For any student who arrives late, and where the principal or the principal’s delegate has recommended that the student be admitted to the examination room, instruct the invigilators to record the student’s time of arrival on the examination attendance roll.


email: Special provisions helpline
Phone: (08) 8115 4854

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After the examination

Special provisions

Students who become ill during the examination and miss a small portion of an examination should be allowed extra time at the end of the examination to make up the time that they have missed. Submit an application to use the derived examination result to the SACE Board (Form 32).

If a student misses a large portion of an examination or the whole examination because of sickness, misadventure, or personal circumstances, submit an application to use the derived examination result to the SACE Board (Form 32).

Do not include any forms for the request of a derived result with bundles of examination question booklets or script books. Send these separately to the SACE Board as soon as possible.

Make a copy of each form that is to be sent to the SACE Board, and keep the copies at the school.

Breach of rules

Use Form 2 to report any breach of rules in an examination. Do not put these forms in students’ script books / question booklets. Send them directly to the SACE Board.

Misadventure / personal circumstances

Ensure that all steps in managing and reporting any cases of misadventure or personal circumstances are completed.

Returning students’ examination materials to the SACE Board 

Ensure that question booklets/script books are placed in strict numerical sequence (include labelled absentee notices in the sequence), with the lowest number at the top (i.e. in the order that is printed on the examination attendance roll). Include the SACE Board copy of the examination attendance roll in the bundle.

  • Metropolitan centres — tie the bundles securely with the string provided, and with the completed return card on top. Do not put question booklets / script books in bags or envelopes of any kind.
  • South Australian country centres and Northern Territory centres — enclose the bundles in the courier satchels provided. Do not put question booklets / script books in any other kind of bag or envelope.

Do not return any question booklets / script books in the plastic bags provided for final moderation, as you will not have enough bags left to send your materials to the central moderation venue. There is also a risk that question booklets / script books will go to the wrong place if the moderation label is attached to them.

Courier collection of examination materials

The pick-up schedule, listing the dates and times of collection of examination materials, will be sent to schools with the examination materials. It is essential that all materials are ready for the SACE Board courier at the times specified on the schedule.

If materials are not scheduled to be collected on the day of the examination, ensure that they are securely stored and that there is no possibility of interference with them.

Materials not returned to the SACE Board

Question-only booklets, surplus question-and-answer booklets, and scribbling paper collected from students do not need to be returned to the SACE Board.

Other than for students to complete the external assessment component for a subject, any use of examination papers is not authorised by the SACE Board and may infringe copyright laws.

Returning surplus examination stationery

The SACE Board courier will collect surplus stationery from metropolitan centres on the day of the last examination collection, and deliver them directly to the supplier for storage. Collect and pack all surplus stationery by that date. 

Do not send excess stationery to the SACE Board. SACE coordinators at South Australian country centres and NTCET coordinators at Northern Territory centres should return surplus examination stationery, packed in cartons, directly to the supplier. The freight costs can be charged to the SACE Board.

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