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What does an Invigilator do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2016
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An invigilator is a person who watches people while they take examinations to identify and address signs of cheating. This term may also be used to refer to people who guard museum exhibits, supervise archives, and are involved in other lines of employment that involve watching people to maintain security and safety. Special training is generally not required to become an invigilator and the rate of pay varies, depending on whether the person has additional duties.

This term comes from the Latin “to watch over.” When examinations are held, the invigilator secures the room for the students, removing any materials that could be used for cheating, and making available a supply of pencils, scrap paper, calculators, and any other authorized tools. If accommodations need to be made for disabled students, the invigilator makes these arrangements ahead of time to minimize disruption.

The supervisor checks in the students when they arrive for the test. In some settings, invigilators may confiscate bags, coats, and other belongings and hold them until the end of the examination, while in others, people may simply be directed to stow these things out of reach. The invigilator hands out tests and times the students, providing warnings so they know when the test is about to end. During the test, students can raise their hands for more supplies or if they have other needs, and the invigilator patrols the room to look for any indicators of cheating or dishonesty.

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In some cases, an invigilator may be someone like a student aide or assistant trusted to monitor students while they take tests. Instructors and administrators can also act as invigilators to supervise students during testing. In other cases, someone's sole job role is as a test administrator. Having someone only supervise tests, without any other responsibilities, may be used as a tool to ensure fairness, since the invigilator cannot exercise favoritism if test-takers are unknown.

This type of work requires the ability to be active, sometimes for several hours, while also being attentive. Test administrators are usually discouraged from sitting for the duration of a test, as this would make it hard to identify dishonest activity in the far regions of the room. Invigilators must also receive a brief orientation to learn how to accommodate disabled students and enforce test standards and rules to ensure fairness and equal access to reasonable testing conditions. If cheating is identified, the administrator must follow the protocol developed by the school, and this can potentially include a hearing in front of a committee or body convened to address academic dishonesty. Students can potentially challenge decisions if they feel the decisions were unfair or unreasonable.

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