Examination Timetable Clashes

A clash occurs when a candidate enters for examinations that are timetabled for the same examination session i.e. morning or afternoon.

The Examination Timetable has been developed with reference to previous entry data to minimise potential clashes and is published in December the previous year. Candidates, subject teachers, form teachers and deans should be aware of the examination timetable and where a timetable clash occurs the candidate should be informed of the impact of the clash.

Role of the Principal’s Nominee

Candidates who have examination clashes are listed on the Key Indicators page of the school's Provider Login. The Principal’s Nominee should check to identify examination timetable clashes after each data file submission and advise any candidates of timetable clashes. The examination clash management timeline and sequestering guidelines may assist in the management of clashes.

The Principal’s Nominee must:

  • discuss the clash with the candidate to see if the clash can be removed or minimised
  • provide each candidate with a letter outlining their timetable clash, how it is to be resolved and their respective responsibilities
  • provide the Examination Centre Manager with a list of the candidates with the NZQA-approved arrangements so they can confirm their planning
  • check that late entries do not create clashes
  • confirm arrangements to accommodate those that impact on Examination Centre resourcing  by 8 October so that Examination Centre Managers can complete their planning.
  • after 8 October contact their School Relationship Manager.

Principles for Managing Examination Timetable Clashes

  • NZQA will discuss options that allow candidates to complete all of their scheduled examinations.
  • The examination for each standard is designed to be able completed within one hour.
  • Where a clash requires an extra examination session for a candidate, the time allocated for that session will be based upon the number of standards.
  • It is assumed that every clash has been examined and checked against the Examination Timetable by the candidate and staff at the school and that all understand the implications of the clash on the candidate’s examination timetable.
  • In agreed circumstances, NZQA may allow to an early start or a late finish to an examination. Examinations will not be scheduled to start before 7.00 am or to finish after 5.30 pm, including those with Special Assessment Conditions. NZQA is the final arbiter of all arrangements for Examination Timetable Clashes. 
  • The key principles for resolving clashes are that candidates should sit:
    • Scholarship at the published time
    • examinations with a listening or speaking component at the published time
    • the higher level paper at the published time.

Resolving Examination Clashes

Schools are responsible for resolving any two-way examination clashes in line with the above principles. It is advisable to discuss any clashes with your Examination Centre Manager, and if there are issues you refer these to your School Relationship Manager. A two-way clash letter (DOCX, 65KB) template is available for confirming arrangements with candidates, or through the Key Indicators page.

All three-way examination clash arrangements must be approved by NZQA, through your School Relationship Manager. NZQA may require extra supervision arrangements for a candidate or the candidate may need to sit an examination outside of the timetabled session. In managing examination clashes, the security of the examination booklets is paramount for maintaining the credibility of external assessment.

NZQA is mindful of its obligations as an employer and will ensure that the Examination Centre Manager and supervisors are not requested to start an examination too early, nor continue an examination too late, for the convenience of the candidate.

Examples of how clashes could be resolved:

If the candidate is entered for a total of three standards (multiple subjects) within an examination session: The candidate will be required to sit all examinations within that single examination session. A break may be requested between the “changeover” of standards for different subjects.    

If the candidate is entered for more than three standards in an exam session: The candidate will sit the higher level examination at the scheduled time and be sequestered (closely supervised) throughout the time between the morning and afternoon sessions. They must stay in the examination room for the entire examination session.

If the candidate has 3 examinations timetabled for the same day:  the candidate will be provided with an extra examination session on the day to accommodate all three examinations (unless overnight sequestering is approved). The timing and duration of each session will be according to the principals outlined above. Sequestering will be required between some sessions.

If there is a listening or speaking component for an examination, (e.g. Languages or Music): that examination should be sat with the rest of the candidates in its timetabled session and the other examination completed in the other session.  Note: if this examination makes up part of a three standard entry for an examination session the candidate will be required to sit all examinations within that single examination session (as above).

The candidate decides not to attend an examination: if the candidate elects not to attend an examination to resolve a clash the school must get the candidate to confirm this is writing. An Intention not to attend an examination (DOCX, 15KB) template is available for confirming this arrangement with the candidate.

Arrangements to accommodate clashes that impact on Examination Centre resourcing must be resolved  by 8 October so that the Examination Centre Manager can complete their planning as required by NZQA.

Clash letters

A two-way clash letter template is available from the Key Indicator page of the school’s Provider login. Principal's Nominees should discuss arrangements to manage two-way clashes with the school's Examination Centre Manager and provide each affected candidate with a letter detailing the specific arrangements to resolve their clash. Any issues should be referred to the School Relationship Manager.

Three-way clash arrangements must be confirmed with the School Relationship Manager, who will provide a letter for each candidate detailing the specific arrangements to manage their clash.

The Principal’s Nominee is not to provide a letter to any candidate or approve any resolution of a three-way clash without the prior approval of their School Relationship Manager.

Each candidate must sign a copy of their letter and return it to the Principal’s Nominee before 8 October.

The Principal’s Nominee should provide the Examination Centre Manager with a list of candidates with clashes, together with copies of the letters detailing how each clash will be managed, so that the Examination Centre Manager may confirm their planning. A copy of each three-way clash letter must also be sent to the School Relationship Manager.

Candidates must understand that failure to follow all procedures for a timetable clash, such as those related to supervision over lunchtime, remaining in the examination room for the duration of any morning examination until taken to lunchtime supervision and use of the toilet under the direct supervision of a member of the school staff will be regarded as a breach of the Assessment (including Examination) Rules for schools. An investigation will occur and the possible outcome may be loss of results.

Candidates from other schools with examination clashes

When making arrangements for candidates from other schools to sit examinations at your exam centre check for any exam clashes. If there are clashes, contact your School Relationship Manager urgently as this could have implications for you and your staff.

Scholarship exams and Overnight Sequestering

Where Scholarship candidates have three-way clashes involving Scholarship and NCEA Level 3 (where they are entered in all standards) in a single day (eg two Scholarship and one Level 3 or one Scholarship and two Level 3 exams), overnight sequestering might be considered as an option with the approval of both NZQA and the candidate’s school's Principal. Because this is a high-stakes competitive examination with the possibility of significant monetary awards for high-achieving candidates across a number of Scholarship examinations, a three-way clash between Scholarship and NCEA examinations should neither present a barrier to a candidate’s access to these awards nor confer an advantage over other candidates. NZQA requires the completion of the Scholarship examinations on the correct examination day. Should overnight sequestering be approved, the Level 3 NCEA examination must be completed the following morning.

The school’s Principal will be responsible for the secure overnight sequestering of any candidate with the approval of NZQA. Any costs relating to overnight sequestering will be the responsibility of the candidate.

Note: There is no overnight sequestering of candidates for NCEA only, at any level, because of logistical constraints and equity considerations. Overnight sequestering may only be approved for clashes between Scholarship and Level 3 subjects.

Will a candidate with a clash be required to pay for supervision or sequestering?

When a candidate has elected to sit an examination at a time different from that published and NZQA has agreed, any actual and reasonable costs associated with extra supervision, including sequestering, may be charged.

Can a candidate request to sit an examination at a time different from that published?

A candidate may request to sit an examination early or later in the day, for example to be able to participate as a national representative in a sporting or cultural event. The candidate must have been selected by a national body and provide NZQA with appropriate written confirmation of that selection. In all such instances contact your School Relationship Manager in writing. If NZQA agrees to such an arrangement, any actual and reasonable costs associated with extra supervision, including sequestering, may be charged.

Self-interest requests will be declined. This includes requests to sit an examination early in the day so that a cheaper airfare to an overseas destination may be purchased.

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