What happens during an exam - Section contents

Learn what to expect on exam day from exam rules to how to get help.

No matter how much of your degree you’ve completed, exams can be very stressful, and it is hard to remember everything you are expected to do on exam day. It’s important to be aware of exam rules ahead of time so that you feel prepared on the day and you don’t get penalised for academic misconduct.

To help you out, check out our timeline that steps out everything that happens during an exam, from the time you arrive at the venue up until the end of the exam.


1. Arriving at the exam venue

Arrive 30 minutes before your exam

  • Arrive at the exam venue at least 30 minutes prior to the official exam start time. If you’ve got an exam at the Royal Exhibition Building, pay attention to the big signs for East and West – on your exam timetable the ‘Venue’ section will indicate if your seat is in the East or West side of the building.
  • Running late for your exam? Visit our FAQ for more information.
  • Store your bag away in the bag storage area. These areas are not secure so bring only the essentials you need.
  • Check your seat number.
  • Get your student ID ready. If you’ve lost your ID, get your acceptable form of photo ID and an electronic copy of your Statement of Enrolment ready.
  • Make sure you have the materials you need before you enter the exam venue. Once you enter the venue, you can’t leave until you’ve completed your exam.
  • Use the bathroom facilities.
  • Forgot a pencil? Or a pen? If you’re at the Royal Exhibition Building, visit the UMSU exam support stall for missing supplies.
  • If you have any questions, and you’re at the Royal Exhibition Building, ask a staff member in a pink vest at the exams information tent at the front entrance.
  • Turn off all of your devices. This includes smart watches, phones, tablets, and laptops. You’ll be allowed to keep these items under your desk, but they can’t be turned on (flight mode is not accepted).

2. Entering the exam venue

Enter the venue 10 minutes before your exam

  • Doors open 10 minutes before the official exam start time.
  • Walk in and take your seat. If you can’t find it, speak with a staff member wearing a vest (any colour). Remember once you’re in, you can’t leave the venue!
  • Raise your hand if you need help from a staff member.
  • Read the sticker on your desk. There are instructions on what can and can’t be on your desk. Place only permitted items on your desk. This includes your ID, which must be placed next to your seat number on the desk. Analogue and digital watches are not permitted to be worn during your exam. Analogue watches may be placed on the desk. Digital watches must be placed under your desk.

Example of desk arrangement with exam paper, multiple choice answer sheet and script books

Example of desk arrangement with exam paper

See your exam checklist

  • Store your valuables under the desk, including laptops, phones, tablets and smart watches. All your electronic devices must be switched off. Your phone must remain switched off until you are outside the venue.
  • If your desk is wobbly, put your hand up and a supervisor can assist.
  • Listen to the audio announcements, as there are important reminders.
  • If you need to go to the bathroom raise your hand. Remove everything from your pockets before going to the bathroom. If you are caught with taking anything (such as notes or your phone) to the toilet, you will be reported to your faculty.
  • Do not open your exam paper or touch your exam until you are given permission to do so by an announcement over the loudspeaker.

3. Start of your exam: reading time

  • Most exams have a reading time of 15 minutes. If you've been allocated 30 minutes, you will be given separate instructions before your exam. Reading time allows you to familiarise yourself with the exam paper before the exam officially begins.
  • The start of reading time will be announced over the loudspeaker.
  • If you have a question about the content of your exam paper, put up your hand and the examiner for your subject will be on hand to answer your question.
  • Unless otherwise indicated on the front cover of your exam paper, do not use calculators or write on your exam paper or forms during this time. Otherwise your papers will be replaced and you may be reported to your faculty.

4. Start of writing time

  • Write your name and student ID on every form – this takes about 2 minutes. You will not be given extra time at the end of the exam to fill this in, so do this at the start!
  • Good luck!
  • We have medics at all venues so if you feel unwell put up your hand for assistance.
  • If you have questions, need water or want to go to the toilet, also raise your hand for assistance.
  • You can’t leave the venue in the first 30 minutes of the exam or in the last 15 minutes of the exam. Refer to the Assessments and Results policy for more details.
  • It will be announced when you have 15 and then 10 minutes left of the exam.
  • If you finish early, put up your hand and a supervisor will come over to you.

5. End of your exam

  • There will be an announcement which will instruct you to stop writing. You must stop immediately. This includes writing your name and ID on your forms. Otherwise you will be reported to your faculty.
  • Place every paper that you have been issued with, including question papers, script books, answer sheets, graph paper and formulae sheets inside the cover of a single script book.  A supervisor will collect these from you shortly. You're not allowed to take exam question papers with you.
  • You need to wait in your seat until it is announced that you can leave. During this time you’re not allowed to talk or use your phone.
  • Once you can leave, collect any belongings from the top of your desk.
  • Remember to check under your seat for any belongings you’ve placed there.
  • And don’t forget to collect your bag from storage!
  • Don’t worry if you have left belongings behind. Lost property will be held at the exam venue until the next business day. If you can’t collect your items until the next business day, the items will be available from either Stop 1 Parkville (student cards only) or Union House (all other lost property items).

Well done on completing your exam!