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Student Insights

The lowdown on… the exam disruption appeal

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 26 Apr 2023

young woman student studying laptop ICAEW Students exam disruption appeal

If you’re concerned you’ll fail your exam because it’s been disrupted, you can apply for the exam disruption appeal. Richard Eckersley, Head of Assessment, and Elliott Skinner, Head of Exam Projects, explain the appeal process.

The clock is ticking and you’re working your way through an exam. Then something goes wrong. You may become ill, your computer might stop working or there could be a problem with the internet. There are steps you can take during the exam, but you may feel as though you haven’t done as well as you otherwise would have. So, what can you do?

“An exam disruption appeal is available for students who have a problem during their exam that hasn’t been rectified,” says Elliott Skinner, Head of Exam Projects at ICAEW. “If your keyboard breaks, tell your invigilator. They can replace it and give you extra time to make up for what’s been lost. But if you feel that a disruption has had a material impact on your exam performance you can apply for the exam disruption appeal.”

What do exam disruption appeals cover?

The appeal allows students to ask ICAEW assessors to make an adjustment to their exam result. “An adjustment can only be made for students who would otherwise fail, and they’ll need to meet the criteria set out in our policy, which help ensure academic integrity and fairness,” says Richard Eckersley, Head of Assessment at ICAEW. “Any adjustments made are usually small and are always made after marking.”

If you fall ill during an exam, ICAEW recommends stopping the exam, rather than carrying on with a risk of failing or not being awarded a successful appeal. “If you feel ill you should go home and get better,” Elliott says. “You’d want to apply for an appeal to rule that the attempt [at the exam] wasn’t valid, so you resit the exam again when you’re better.

“The two outcomes you might expect from an exam disruption appeal are either a mark uplift or a void result. If the disruption is significant enough and we weren’t able to recompense you, we might award two extra marks, for example. We’d prefer not to void exams, but will do so only if the circumstances are outside of everyone’s control.”

The exam disruption appeal does not cover anything that happens before or after the exam. “You can’t apply and say that you turned up late to the exam because there was bad traffic,” Elliott says. “We’d expect you to be professional: be early and be ready.”

How can you apply?

“If something happens in the exam, the very first thing we expect you to do is tell an invigilator on the day and at that moment in time,” Elliott explains. “That can be in person at an exam centre or via the chat tool for remote invigilation exams. There could be a really simple fix, but if you don’t tell us there is nothing we can do about it.”

If the issue isn’t resolved and you wish to seek an appeal, you can do so on your online portal. “Students need to do this within seven days of their exam,” Richard says. “They might need to make more than one application if different exams were disrupted.”

The appeal will get logged and you will get a message to say it has been received. “If the appeal is accepted you will either get your marks uplifted or a void.” Elliott says. “You won’t hear back from us if you pass.”

The process of applying for an exam disruption appeal is slightly different depending on the level of study. “At the ICAEW Professional and Advanced Level exams, students will have to submit while ICAEW is determining their results,” Richard says. “They will find out the outcome at the same time as results are issued. At the ICAEW Certificate in Finance, Accounting & Business (ICAEW CFAB) and Certificate Level, results may be issued before the student makes their application.”

Tips and guidance

Elliott recommends reading the exam disruption appeal policy before an exam and familiarising yourself with what you need to do if there is a disruption. “On the day of the exam, you are expected to tick a box to say you are fit to sit the exam,” he adds. “And that’s the key – are you ready to sit this exam right now, regardless of everything else? If you feel like you’re not ready, don’t go.”

ICAEW also provides advice, guidance and support while you are studying and preparing for exams, including Instructions to Candidates notes, the student support team, and caba.

Ultimately, the exam disruption appeal is in place to cover any eventualities that occur during your exam. As Elliott says: “We want you to pass those exams. We don’t want you to fail because of some technical issue that we would have been able to resolve had we known about it.” 

Read more about the exam disruption appeal.

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