Find out what malpractice is, how you can prevent it and what to do if you suspect malpractice in exams and assessments.

What malpractice is

Malpractice is any act or practice which breaches regulations, or which:

  • gives rise to prejudice to candidates
  • compromises public confidence in qualifications
  • compromises the process of assessment, the integrity of any qualification or the validity of a result or certificate
  • damages the authority, reputation or credibility of any awarding body or centre.

For more information on malpractice, view the Joint Council Qualifications (JCQ) malpractice page

How to identify malpractice

We’ve prepared the following documents to help you identify examples of malpractice:

How to prevent malpractice

The best way to avoid malpractice is plan ahead before the exam series starts.

Instructions for conducting exams (ICE)

As a starting point, you should be familiar with the JCQ's instructions for conducting exams (ICE)

The instructions will help you with your planning and administering of exams. The ICE document is updated each year, so it’s important that you read the latest version. Any changes to the document are highlighted to help you see what has changed.

Talk to your students

Help your students prepare for their exams by checking that they know what’s going to happen and what’s expected of them.

Let your students know that they must not have any of the following items with them in the exam room:

  • mobile phones
  • MP3/4 players or similar devices
  • watches

As of 1 September 2021, students are no longer allowed to wear a watch of any type in the exam room.

Train your invigilators

Make sure your invigilators have been trained and understand their role in advance of the exams.

Invigilators must be familiar with the JCQ invigilator checklist

Set up your exam rooms

You should identify all the rooms that will be used for exams. This includes separate rooms, such as those needed to accommodate students with access arrangements (scribes, readers etc) or specialist subject exams (computer science, modern foreign languages etc).

All exam rooms need the same conditions and should be set up according to the ICE document.

Make sure that the JCQ exam room posters are displayed in a prominent place outside each exam room:

Complete pre-series and exam day checks

To help you prepare for exams, you might find it useful to complete a pre-series and exam day checklist.

You can view these checklists, along with other helpful resources, on the JCQ instructions for conducting exams page

How to report malpractice

If you witness or suspect malpractice, you should report it to your head of centre first. Your head of centre has a duty to investigate and report all such incidents to us.

If you feel that you cannot report your suspicions of malpractice to your head of centre, you can contact our exams integrity team directly.

We’re aware that reporting suspected malpractice can be difficult. Where requested, we will not disclose the identity of an informant unless we are legally obliged to do so.

To report malpractice to us, you'll need to complete one of the following forms:

You can find additional information about making an allegation and whistleblowing on the JCQ's malpractice page

Official guidance

Further information and guidance from JCQ and Ofqual.


Conducting coursework

Contact our team

Contact our exams integrity team by:

Tel: 0800 197 7162

Our office

Exams Integrity
Devas Street
M15 6EX