Find the answers to your questions about examinations here. Exam information can also be found in the Chem Central module on Blackboard Learn.


Where can I get extra help with my work?

If you are having serious problems coping with your work please see your year tutors or the Senior Tutor who will advise you. However, don't forget that your personal tutor and your academic tutors are also there to help you. Whatever the situation, make sure you seek help in good time.

Where can I get help with studying for exams, learning things like exam technique and coping with exam stress?

The College's webpages have a study guide to help you and offer advice on teaching and learning. The Study Guide can be found at this link Study Guide. You can download a PDF version from the linked page.

The College Health Centre runs Exam Stress Workshops. They start in November and places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The link below gives some more details.

The Health Centre also has a series of pages, links and resour ces t o help with exam stress and anxiety, managing revision, study and motivation techniques and so on. You can find the lin k from the Exam Stress button on the top of the page linked above.

What material can I bring to an exam? Can I bring my own calculator? What else is supplied for me?

The only things you can bring into an exam are writing instruments (pens, pencils) and stationery items like rubbers and rulers. You must also bring your College ID card so that we can verify your identity. Your ID card also carries your CID number.
You CANNOT bring in your own calculator or molecular models or lecture notes or anything else like that.
You will be supplied with the following items:-

You will be notified of official examination times by the department by email to your College account, so please check and read your emails. When this is done, you will also be informed of the location where you can find official regulations on the conduct of examinations. The regulations will provide any more information you might need. You can find the link to instructions for candidates and other official information on the Registry website

Can I see old exam questions and answers to help in my revision?

Yes, to an extent. Old exam questions are posted on blackboard in the Chem Central module. However, you must remember that the content of courses may change from year to year and also that the same course may have been given by a different lecturer in a previous year so questions may not be completely relevant. The department has uploaded an archive of  past papers (re-sits are not included). You should also remember that outline answers are no substitute for proper revision and you should read the note of caution concerning outline answers.

I had extra time for my exams when I was in school. Can I get extra time for my exams in College?

Yes you can, provided that you supply the proper evidence. If you are dyslexic then you need to provide a recent psychological assessment. If you have a medical condition then you will need to supply information on your condition. Applications for extra time in Exams are processed by Dr Mike Bearpark the Disabilities Liaison Officer for Chemistry. Applications for extra time must go through a process that has several steps and can take up to 8 weeks so if you think you will need extra time, contact Dr Bearpark immediately.

Illness/Mitigating circumstances

There is a College document relating to mitigating circumstances which should be consulted in conjunction with the following specific advice.

Illness/ mitigating circumstances

What happens if I am too ill to do assessed coursework?

You should contact the course supervisor or lab coordinator, your year tutors and the Senior Tutor.

What happens if I am ill for an exam?

You MUST have a satisfactory medical certificate to cover the relevant dates. You should discuss the required documentation with the Senior Tutor (Dr Rob Law) If you can provide suitable evidence, your absence from the exam will not count as an attempt at the paper and you will normally be allowed to sit the exam at the next available date for full credit. Note that doctors are normally unwilling to give a medical certificate retrospectively. Unless you are totally unable to do the paper for medical reasons, you are expected to take it. If you are slightly unwell but still able to take an exam we will make note of this and it will be taken into account when your degree result is considered.

What happens if I become ill during an exam?

Your illness may be short-lived (a coughing fit, for example) and after a short rest you may feel able to continue and finish the exam. Normally you wou ld be allowed some extra time to make up for the time that you missed. If you feel unable to finish the exam then you would be asked to go to the Health Centre to see a Doctor and get a medical certificate. The certificate should then be given to the Senior Tutor (Dr Rob Law) and assuming everything is satisfactory, you would be allowed to re-sit the exam at the first available opportunity, for full credit. Information on full credit is provided below.


How is the mark for each exam paper determined?

Almost all Chemistry exam questions are worth 25 marks. Different papers have different numbers of questions, but the mark total is scaled to obtain a percentage. For example, if the exam paper has three questions, then the maximum mark would be 75. The mark scored by a student for this exam would thus be multiplied by 4/3 to obtain a percentage. Once all the marking is completed, an internal committee of the academic body including the Exams Officer, the Heads of Teaching Section, the Director of Undergraduate Studiesand the Senior Tutor, review the marks overall, both for each exam question set and also for each paper set. The committee may decide to moderate the marks for either an exam question (perhaps because it was deemed to be too difficult or too long) or an exam paper (again it may be decided that an exam paper was too long). Instances of moderation are quite rare and will always be reviewed by the Examination Board meeting (which includes all staff and three external examiners) at the end of the Academic year. No other adjustments are made to marks. The Senior Tutor will bring to the attention of the meeting any problems that students might have experienced , such as illness, family bereavement and so on, that might have affected their performance and this is taken into account though the details are kept confidential.

What happens if I answer more than the required number of question parts?

If you answer more question parts than required (e.g. you are asked to answer either part a. or part b., and you answer part a. and then part b. too) the marker will mark the requred number of parts, in the order they are presented in the answer book, and then stop (in the example above only part a. would be marked). You can of course attempt more than the required number of parts, but you must be sure to clearly cross through anything you do not want to be marked.

What happens if I answer more than the required number of questions?

In the IIIB exams you are required to answer 6 questions over two papers. If you answer more than the required number of questions your total mark for the exam will be the average of all the questions you answered.

How do I convert letter grades to marks?

The letter grades you are given when you first get your results correspond to the following ranges:

  • <25 G (Bad Fail)
  • <40 F (Fail )
  • 40-49 D
  • 50-59 C
  • 60-69 B
  • 70-100 A

What is the pass mark for exams and coursework?

For all students the pass mark is 40%.

Why does the department only issue letter grades?

The Registry is the official body allowed to issue actual marks to students. Departments are only allowed to issue letter grades. We do this so we can tell you how you have done quickly. The actual numbers will be supplied to the Registry by the Department. The Registry will then issue the marks to students at the end of the academic year.

What do I have to do to qualify to proceed to the next academic year?

The conditions for passing a given year are set out in the Scheme for Award of Honours 2015-16. You should read the Scheme for the Award of Honours carefully so you know what you have to achieve for a given year and a given type of degree.

How is my first year total mark calculated?

Your registry transcript supplies you with marks for each course component and year totals are quite easy to calculate using the information given in the Scheme for the Award of Honours. Each year consists of various course components. Each course component has an associated unit value. There are 60 ECTS units in each year for most degree programmes and for each course component you will be given a mark. Your overall year total is thus given by: ∑{(Percentage mark for course element) x (unit value of element)}/60

An example for the first year might look like this:-

  • IA Course (8 ECTS) – Mark = x%
  • Inorganic Chemistry 1B (8 ECTS) Mark = y%
  • Organic Chemistry 1B (8 ECTS) Mark = z%
  • Physical Chemistry 1B (8 ECTS) Mark = p%
  • Ancillary Subject (6 ECTS) Mark = q%
  • Coursework I (22 ECTS) Mark = k%
  • Year total = {(x + y + z + p)*8 + q*6 + k*22}/60

You must also pass the Maths test to pass year 1

How is my degree class determined?

The calculations and formulae are detailed in the Scheme for Award of Honours 2015-16. This sets out, for each degree type, the contribution to the year total from each course element (for example how much the Inorganic Chemistry exam contributes to the First year total) and then how much each year contributes to the overall degree total. For the F103 M.Sci programme, the year weighting is 1:2:3:4. A mark out of 100 is calculated for each year (see above) and then the year totals are combined in the ratio shown. Thus for the F103 course for example, the first year is worth a maximum of 100 marks whereas the fourth year is worth a maximum of 400 marks once the weighting is taken into account. The ratios are different for different degrees so you should check the ratio for the degree course for which you are registered. For each student, a mark out of 1000 is calculated.
The degree classification depends on the total mark as defined in the table below.

  • A score below 400 would be a failed degree.
  • 400-499 Third
  • 500-599 Lower Second
  • 600-699 Upper Second
  • 700-1000 First Class

The College also defines borderline regions, which are 25 marks below each boundary. For example if you score between 675 and 699, then you are in the First Class / Upper Second borderline region. If you score between 575 and 599 then you are in the Upper Second / Lower Second borderline region and so on. Examiners, especially the External Examiners carefully consider all candidates in the borderline region to see if there is a justification for promoting them to the next class of degree. This is where any extenuating circumstances which have been reported to the Senior Tutor can be taken into account, and where these apply students can be considered for promotion even if their degree total is not in a borderline. Please note that only the general nature of any problems is revealed to the meeting. The details will only be known to a very small group of staff, who themselves then attend the Examiners' Meeting, in order to maintain confidentiality. All aspects of your academic performance are considered in detail before a decision is made. The External Examiners have access to all year totals and also to all of the final year work (exam answer booklets, project reports etc.) so that they can use this to assess whether or not a borderline candidate should be promoted. They may also decide they need to conduct a short oral examination with the candidate before making a decision. They discuss each borderline candidate in detail at the Examiners’ meeting. Recommendations for degree classes ("Honours") are made to the Board of Examiners' Meeting, normally at the end of June, for consideration by the Academic Staff and External Examiners. At this meeting degrees are formally agreed.

Is there a quota for degrees? Can only a set number of people get First Class Honours?

No and no. In theory everyone graduating in a given year could be awarded a First Class degree. Equally, everyone graduating in a given year could be awarded a Third Class degree. In reality the numbers go up and down a bit from year to year. Aside from very occasional moderation of a particular exam when the Examination Board feels it is warranted we do not adjust marks in any way.

How are marks determined for examinations taken abroad? (F101, F104, F1R1, F1R2 and F1R4)

Students on these programmes take masters level courses in lieu of the IV exam whilst abroad. These courses are examined by the host institution, typically by written or oral exams. We convert the results obtained to IC percentage marks according to the conversion table available on Blackboard.

Results queries

My results are not as good as I thought. Can my exam be re-marked?

No. As noted on the first page of the FAQ, all exams are marked twice. There is also a substantial amount of checking that goes on once results are in. However if you think a mark is incorrect, contact the Exams Administrator ( and the processing of the marks will be checked but exam scripts cannot be re-marked.

My results are not as good as I thought. Can I see my exam booklets to see where I went wrong?

No. Exam answer booklets come into the sphere of Data Protection and the College's Data Protection policy. A student is not allowed to see the booklets themselves but is allowed to see any comments written on the script by an examiner. However this is not a simple process. An application has to be made to the Data Protection Officer and a fee paid and in the end, the comments may be un-enlightening. Generally it is best to move on after an exam and focus on the exams to be taken in the future. If you want to know more about the Data Protection Act and the way it is implemented in College, then you can examine the webpages that deal with it.

You can ask your personal tutor to review your exam booklets and give you feedback on exam technique.

Scheme for the Award of Honours

Scheme for Award of Honours 2015-16 sets out the value of each course component for each year and the contribution that each year makes to the degree total for the different degree types. It also tells you what you need to pass or achieve to continue to the next year (and to remain on the M.Sci after year 2). The Scheme is posted under course information on Chem Central.

If my results aren’t good, can I be forced to change my registration and do a different degree?

In short, yes. There are certain courses you have to pass at a certain level in order to continue with a particular degree type. Check the Scheme for Award of Honours 2015-16 for details. Other courses, such as the Year Abroad, also have conditions attached to them before you are allowed to go abroad. Check the Scheme for the Award of Honours so you know what is expected of you.


Can I take my re-sit exams abroad in my home country?

No. If you have not qualified to continue to your next year of study, you must return to Imperial College to take your re-sit exams.

Can I resit exams I have passed in order to get a higher mark?

No. Under normal circumstances you cannot re-take any assessment that you have passed.

What happens if I fail my re-sit exams?

If after the August re-sit exams you still have not passed all course components, you will be asked to withdraw temporarily from College, but you can still return to take the relevant exams for one last time in the following academic year. If you then pass everything to proceed, you can return to College at the start of the next academic year after you achieve qualification to continue your degree.

What are restricted credit and full credit? If I fail an exam, do I get zero?

Restricted credit is the pass mark (40%) . If you fail an exam, you are normally given restricted credit for the re-sit unless there were documented extenuating circumstances for your failure (for example a severe illness). If your extenuating circumstances are verified then you would normally sit the re-sit exam for full credit, so that your credited mark would be the mark that you actually obtained. For example, if you re-sit an exam on full credit and score 60% you will be credited with 60%. If however you re-sit an exam on restricted credit and score 60%, then your credited mark will be 40%. If you fail an exam, you are always credited with your mark, even if it is a fail. If you score less on a re-sit exam than you did on the original exam, you are credited with the higher mark.

How many times can I re-sit an exam?

You can re-sit an exam twice. Re-sits must be taken at the first available opportunity. The first opportunity to re-sit would be in th e August following your initial f ailure. If you still did not pass, you can then re-sit one last time in the following academic year. Your two re-sit attempts are normally on the next two occasions on which the exam is offered and if you choose not to re-sit on one or both of those occasions, then you forfeit the attempt(s).

General Information

How are exam questions prepared?

Exam questions are set by the person who gave the course. They are then reviewed by an internal departmental committee. So, for example, all the lecturers who teach a course on the IA Course in year 1 will meet and read and critique each other's questions to make sure they are of the proper length and the wording is clear and unambiguous and so on. The exam as a whole is reviewed to make sure it is not too long for the time allotted. All the exam papers are then sent to our External Examiners who are Professors at other Universities in the UK. The External Examiners read the papers and send corrections and comments. The question setters respond to the corrections and comments as necessary and then the paper content is finalised.

Who marks exam questions?

All exam questions are marked twice. Exam questions are first marked by the person who gave the lecture course. They are then given to a second marker who re-marks, checking that they agree with the marking and that the first marker has seen everything submitted. If the markers disagree by one mark or less (out of 25), then the higher mark is always awarded, if they disagree by more than one mark, the markers meet to resolve the differences and to agree a mark.

When are the exams and when are the re-sit exams?

The timetables and Key Dates document provided to you by the department have provisional exam week dates. You will be sent an official timetable by email by the department to your College email account. Some exams such as Humanities exams and those in the Business School are not scheduled by the Chemistry department and you should contact the relevant department or the lecturer giving the course for details of your exams.

Can I take a year out of my degree?

Not unless you have a very good reason (e.g. severe illness). Please see the Senior Tutor for advice.