My Friendly Neighbourhood Invigilator

Driving home from my most recent AU exam, I reflected on how lucky I am in my choice of invigilator. Because I’ve used the same invigilator for around a dozen AU exams, the process is familiar and stress-free. And stress-free is what I need on exam day!

My current invigilator wasn’t my first choice. For my first AU exam, I selected the nearest invigilator to me at the time, which was at a public library in another municipality. That invigilation fee was $60, which is pretty expensive for a library. However, for that fee I got a dedicated staff member to watch over me while I wrote my exam in a private room.

Because that location was over 60 kilometres from home, for my next exam I decided to try my own municipality’s library system. They offered invigilation services but were not yet on AU’s invigilation network. After some back-and-forth between the library and AU’s exam unit, the library received its AU invigilator number.

Now I write my exams 10 kilometres from my home (13 if you count the essential detour through Tim Horton’s drivethru) and I only pay $30 per exam. I have the same person act as proctor each time. She knows the routine, and so do I.

We’ve developed a comfortable proctor-student relationship. I give her lots of notice for each exam, and we’re always able to book a mutually acceptable time. My proctor doesn’t impose any draconian rules beyond the normal safeguards against potential cheating. I bring my “exam care package” of take-out coffee, water, snack, wristwatch, scrap paper, and ear buds.

The ear buds aren’t for listening to anything, but to block out noise. The only drawback about my local library is there is no private space for exam-writing. The library is usually open during my exam, although I can sometimes write the first hour before opening time. The ear-buds help to reduce noisy distractions, and also discourage other library patrons from speaking to me. (I also put a big sign next to me advising others that I’m writing an exam and must not be disturbed.) My proctor and other library staff are helpful with discouraging people from disturbing me.

I choose the same work station each time. With my back to a wall and facing the entrance, nobody can startle me from behind. My work station is also adjacent to the public washroom, so quick trips to the washroom don’t chew up too much exam time.

I didn’t realize how fortunate I was with bathroom access until I read a recent discussion on the AthaU Facebook group page. Apparently, students who use ProctorU to supervise their exams aren’t able to take bathroom breaks. While that makes sense, given the way ProctorU supervision works, I can’t imagine giving up bathroom access for the duration of a 3-hour exam! At the very least, such a restriction would mean not writing exams in the morning, which is my best brain time but most active bladder time (both of which may have something to do with coffee consumption.)

One more exam is over, and I’ve only got a few more to go. Because I found a friendly neighbourhood invigilator, my remaining exams will be as stress-free as they can possibly be.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario.

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