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Some key points about the Cambridge examination process

If you have not studied in Cambridge before, you may be used to an examination process different from that which operates here. In this section, we set out some basic points to help you understand our examination process, and what that means for your communications with faculty members during the year:

Our examination process is anonymous in both directions

i.e. (1) the identity of the person who sets the examination (the Examiner) and any co-markers (Assessors) is kept confidential until the end of the process and (2) the identity of candidates is not revealed to the Examiner or Assessor(s) until all results have been confirmed, candidates classed and prizes awarded.

Evidently, there is one exception: in the case of supervised dissertations, it will be obvious to the Examiner (if that person is the supervisor) who the student is; however, dissertations are marked under a unique candidate number (i.e. one different from the candidate number used for the other three exams being taken), so the Examiner will not be aware of the candidate’s performance elsewhere in the LLM examination; no dissertation is marked by only one person.

It is essential that this two-way anonymity be preserved throughout the year. In particular, you must keep your candidate number confidential and candidates must not communicate with any individual faculty member who might be involved in the examination process regarding the exam itself after they have sat the paper and before the results have been published: there is otherwise a danger that the candidate may reveal information about their exam performance that identifies their script to the examining team for that paper. Complaints or other concerns regarding examination performance that need to be raised promptly should be communicated through formal channels designated for that purpose.

The content of the examination paper remains entirely confidential until the examination begins

i.e. course lecturers are not permitted to give any indication during the course of the year regarding the likely content of the examination (e.g. specific questions or topics that will or will not appear in the examination paper).

Candidates should not infer anything about the content of the examination from remarks made by lecturers during the year, and are generally discouraged from attempting to “question-spot”, i.e. to anticipate what will and will not come up on the exam or how a particular topic might be treated if it does appear. While past papers are useful sources for understanding the style of questions students might face, past practice should not be understood as any indication of the substance or content of future examination questions. This is not least owing to changes year by year to both syllabus and the Form & Conduct rules (i.e. rules which determine the rubric for the paper and what if any printed materials candidates may bring to the exam).

It is, of course, entirely proper for course lecturers to provide general guidance to students during the year on LLM marking standards and the type of approach required to answer questions at this level. Students are particularly encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to do formative written work for this purpose.

Not all course content will necessarily be examined

The Form & Conduct notice published during the academic year for each paper (see above) commonly prescribes a minimum number of questions that must be set in the examination that is considerably lower than the total number of seminars or topics covered in the course.

The Examiner is therefore at liberty not to set any question on one or more topics covered during the teaching year, or to set questions in such a way as combined more than one topic in one question or otherwise require candidates to address the issues raised by the question from a wide-ranging perspective.

Guidance about examinations

In addition to the general marking criteria, students can gain guidance on the nature of the examinations by consulting past examination papers. Copies of past papers are available on Moodle. In addition, course-specific examination reports written by the examiners of the individual papers are also available on Moodle. These provide students with a rich source of information on both legal substance and exam technique.

The Faculty has also previously provided lectures containing general guidance on the examination process and examination technique.  Recordings of these lectures are available on Moodle (Raven authentication required).

Students are strongly advised to consult past papers and the relevant examiners’ reports well in advance of their exams as a helpful guide as to what has been done in the past. Do bear in mind, however, that the syllabus may vary from year to year.

Examination timetable

Once published, the examination timetable is available online.

Special examination arrangements

Candidates' attention is drawn to the following statement of policy from the guidelines document published by the Board of Examinations.

Students often ask about whether and if so, how they can have special arrangements made for them in relation to the exam timetable or process. Information about examination arrangements, including the procedure for applying for special examination arrangements for students with a disability, is provided by the Board of Examinations. The latest version of its guidance will be updated in the course of the academic year. Students should check the Registry website for the updated policy.

As stated in the guidelines, students should bear in mind that applications for special arrangements cannot be made for the following reasons:

2.1 Most Cambridge Tripos and taught Masters are examined by formal 3-hour examinations. Saturdays and Bank Holidays are considered to be normal examination days. You may have up to two examinations per day. This is standard and is not in itself grounds for examination arrangements.

2.2 Many examinations sites are large and you can expect an 'examination atmosphere'. Most students feel nervous about examinations and this in itself is not grounds for examination arrangements.

Withdrawing from an examination

If you wish to withdraw from an exam, or are unable to attend an exam due to illness etc at short notice, you must inform your College Tutorial Office immediately.

On the day of the exam

Arrival at the examination venue

It is important that you arrive at the exam room in good time before the start of each exam; late arrivals cause stress and disturbance to other candidates. (students should note carefully the information under 'Reading Time' below.)

Items that can be taken into the examination room

NB: your exam confirmation sheet is the definitive source of these University rules.

You should take with you into the exam room:

  • your Examination Entry Confirmation Form and University Student ID Card: remember to bring (i) your examination entry confirmation form (delivered to you in your College), which gives your examination candidate number, and (ii) your University student ID card, to all exams. Make sure to read, and comply with, the "important notices" on the back of the exam entry confirmation form;
  • your candidate number: you will need to write this on the coversheet of each paper in place of your name and will also need it to find your desk in the exam room;
  • your own pens and any other officially approved materials (e.g. statute book — see under 'Permitted Materials' below);
  • You are permitted to take a small screw-top bottle of water into the exam room, but are not normally allowed any other items of food or drink. You should not take your mobile phone into the exam.

It is very important that you follow the instructions at the top of the exam paper scrupulously and comply with any instructions given by the Invigilators.

Permitted materials

Students must comply strictly with the regulations set out in the Form and Conduct Notices (LLM), which you should read carefully (in the Official Faculty Documents section of the Faculty of Law website).

  • If you bring a permitted dictionary to an examination, this should be placed on the desk with your statutes/other materials for inspection by the Examiners/Invigilators;
  • In particular, for all closed book examinations, permitted materials must contain no highlighting, annotations or markings (other than the candidate's name and college on the first page); no tabs; no folded pages;
  • In case of a failure to comply with requirements of the relevant Conduct Notice, the offending materials will be confiscated and no replacement provided. Candidates must bring their own copies of permitted materials to the exam; spare copies will not be available should any candidate forget to bring his/her own copy;
  • Please make sure that your statutes books (or other permitted materials) are (1) an approved edition; and (2) pristine;
  • In the case of materials provided by the Faculty, candidates MUST collect these in advance of the exam. No copies will be provided during the exam should a candidate fail to bring a copy with him/her.

Open book examinations

Candidates will be permitted to use the following in all open book examinations:

  1. Any materials supplied to the class by the lecturers.
  2. Any materials prepared by the candidates themselves, including photocopied materials not in breach of copyright. This includes photocopies and printouts of the following:
    • statutes and other primary legal instruments (treaties, decisions, etc)
    • cases
    • articles
    • book sections comprising no more than 5% of books, or one entire chapter, whichever is the greater.
  3. Any monolingual or bilingual dictionary (except electronic dictionaries and specialised legal dictionaries).
  4. Other materials and statute books as listed below. Candidates are forbidden to take into any examination any other books.

For clarification, there are no restrictions on the marking of statute books or other materials in open book exams.

Please check the Form and Conduct document for details of which papers are open book and closed book exams.

Length of written examinations and reading time

The length of written examination (including Reading Time where relevant and unless otherwise announced) in the LLM are as follows:

  • LLM Papers: Three hour examination plus 10 minutes' reading time before the start of the examination;
  • LLM Papers with Extended Essay in Lieu of One Question: Two hour examination plus 10 minutes’ reading time before the start of the examination;

Please note that students should present themselves at the exam room at least 20 minutes before the advertised start time of each paper.

Writing legibly and use of black ink

Candidates are expected to write legibly in their examination scripts. To maximise legibility and facilitate photocopying of scripts, candidates are strongly advised to write in black ink. You should bring extra pens to the exam in case your pen runs out of ink.

Ban on removing paper from the examination rooms

You must not remove ANY paper (most particularly your exam script) from the exam rooms. The accidental removal of scripts can have extremely serious repercussions for the student concerned.

Examination marking and classification

Details of the Faculty's marking criteria and classing conventions are available on the Official Documents page​.

Examinations data access and review

This policy applies to the following University Examinations:

  • Law Tripos, Part IA, IB and II
  • Examination in Law for European Students
  • LLM Examination
  • MCL Examination

Routinely available data


Retention Period

Accessible Through

Final mark book


Director of Studies or College Tutor

External Examiners' reports



The final mark book contains the candidate’s marks on each paper, the candidate’s total mark, the candidate’s class and position within that class, together with statistical information on the performance of candidates in each paper and in the examination as a whole.

Data available on request (where retained) (see Guidance on Examinations Data Access for further information)


Retention Period

Accessible Through

Scripts and marks for individual questions (where available)

Six months from publication of Class List

Examinations Secretary via eSales page

Minutes of Examiners' final meetings


At the end of the retention period, data are either destroyed or anonymised and used for statistical analysis.

Please note that if you wish to request the data for purposes of a 'review', it is your responsibility to ensure that you submit your request by no later than two weeks after the publication of the class-list. We will endeavour to reply with copies of the information within a two-week period after that deadline.

You can apply for access to your examination scripts under the Faculty's data access policy via the University's eSales site.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact the Examinations Secretary, Dr Stelios Tofaris ( or Mrs Sarah Smith ( in the Faculty Office.

Release of data under this policy does not constitute a subject access request under the General Data Protection Regulation 2018. Requests for access to all other personal data should be directed to: e-mail:

Updated September 2018