Release of Examination Papers - Procedures

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1. Purpose and Objectives

These procedures enact PPL 3.10.02a Assessment – Policy.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

Examination script – a student’s written responses to examination questions.

RTI – Right To Information

3. Procedures Scope/Coverage

These procedures apply to all students and staff of The University of Queensland.

4. Procedures Statement

Students should have open access to past examination question papers. The head of school must provide for end of semester examination question papers, or a sample question paper, to be released to the Library following the corresponding deferred and supplementary examination period. 

5. Exemption from Releasing Examination Papers

There may be exceptional circumstances that will significantly compromise the educational value of future examinations if the examination paper is released to the Library. For example, in cases where:

  • there is limited scope for developing questions in certain content areas;
  • the optimal assessment method to meet course objectives and permit valid assessment may limit the number of questions which can be written; or
  • questions must be developed and refined across time and over repeated administration.

In these circumstances, end of semester examination question papers may be exempted from release, and instead a sample examination paper is released to the Library.

6. Exemption Procedures

Where release of an end of semester examination paper is exempted, a sample examination paper must be made available for lodgement with the Library. Sample question papers should be in a format similar to that of the final examination paper, so that students are well prepared in terms of the requirements (length, scope, rigour etc).  This is especially important for first year students.

A new sample paper may not need to be set each year.  The sample paper can be re-used, unmodified or with minor changes, for a period up to three years, as long as the sample paper reflects the expectations for the current year. 

When submitting the final examination paper for centrally administered end of semester examinations, course coordinators will indicate whether the paper is to be released to the Library.  If exemption is sought, a sample paper reflective of the final paper must also be submitted.

At the conclusion of the end of semester examination period, schools will provide to Examinations Section a copy of the end of semester school-based examination papers, or a sample paper, for release to the Library.  Heads of schools must ensure that procedures are in place for provision of end of semester school-based examination papers.

Through heads of schools, an appropriate quality control mechanism must be in place to check the ongoing relevance of sample papers, owing to their three year life-span, and to ensure that any change in the course content is reflected in a new sample paper.  Where the end of semester examination paper is exempted, course coordinators, through heads of schools, are responsible for making arrangements to ensure the security of the examination paper so as not to undermine the decision to exempt the question paper from release.

The Assessment Sub-Committee will conduct an audit of a random selection of non-released end of semester examination papers to ensure that the sample paper is reflective of the actual examination paper.

Additional assessment examples may be provided through Blackboard and include a link to the University Library past examination papers.

7. Access to Examination Scripts

7.1 Inspection of examination scripts

If exemption from release of an examination script is approved, the University's Assessment Procedures PPL 3.10.02b entitles a student to inspect both their script and the question paper, but not to make a copy of either.

7.2 Restricted access to examination scripts

Course coordinators who have exempted release of their examination question papers and who also wish to prohibit students from gaining a copy of their answers on the grounds that it is tantamount to providing access to the question papers must make a special case directly to the Assessment Subcommittee. They should be aware that, in the event of an RTI application, the onus to demonstrate that disclosure of an individual examination script would not be in the student's interest would be heavy.

8. Right to Information

Access to an examination question paper may be sought under the Queensland Right To Information legislation. A case for non-disclosure based on educational grounds must be consistent with the prima facie case that would need to be argued under the RTI Act. However, considerations favouring disclosure, such as the desirability of providing students with feedback, will also be taken into account in determining whether an examination question paper should be disclosed under the Act. Course coordinators should take such factors into account when making internal application for exemption under these guidelines.

9. Retention and Disposal of Examination Papers

The schedule below outlines the minimum storage requirements for examination related documents:

  • Examination scripts, answer booklets, multiple choice question sheets - a minimum period of twelve months from the date of certification of results.
  • Examination question papers:  master copy - within six months, either archived at Records Management (where the final paper is exempted from release to the Library), or released as past papers through the UQ Library.
  • Examination question papers:  used or unused printed copies - one week after the examination.
  • Attendance slips - two years (24 months ) after the examination period.
  • Supervisors' Reports - two years (24 months) after the examination period.

Where results are disputed or other administrative requirements such as Right to Information Application or pending legal action must be dealt with, scripts will need to be held until the matter is determined or any available appeal avenues are exhausted.  At the date the matter is finally determined, the standard requirement to retain examination scripts for a minimum of a further 12 months applies.  Completed scripts should be held in a secure location with restricted access.  Destruction of scripts should be by confidential means.

Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson
Academic Registrar
Mr Mark Erickson