Invigilating Exams: A Lazy Man’s Guide

Bill Gates once said, “I choose a lazy man to do a hard job because a lazy man will find an easy way to do it.” As for me, I can sometimes prove to be very lazy thereby finding myself failing to respond to many tasks. However, over the years, I have noticed my weakness and endeavored to find solutions to this problem.

Read also: National ranking of 2018 UNEB ICT results

A few years ago when I was a computer lab technician at St. Peter’s SSS Nsambya, I found myself with the task of invigilating a Computer Studies practical exam. This was because the teacher in charge, Ms. Carol Namatovu was on leave and my other colleague Mrs. Ssenkubuge had a French paper to invigilate.

A typical setup of a computer lab in preparation of an exam.

The school library was my favourite place to relax and there had to be a way I could enjoy the services of the library while I invigilated the exam. This prompted me to think harder and find away I could serve 2 masters at the same time and thank God, I did.

The writer having a good time with the librarians of St. Peter’s SSS Nsambya

How I achieved this

A few minutes before the exam, I installed TrueCafe software on the 40 machines. This is the software I use at E-zone Internet Café to time our clients. I set  it to run for 2 hours and 15 minutes – the time for the duration of the paper. I briefed the students that they had to do everything within that time since the software didn’t take bribes nor reasons

I also set the software’s warning bell at 10 minutes to time to alert students that it was almost time up. At the end of the exam duration, the software would close access to the PC and even shut it down. This meant that any unsaved work would be lost.

To avoid cheating, I placed my laptop strategically and set Cyberlink YouCam software to record every movement and interaction during the exam. I emphasized to my students that my absence didn’t mean exam malpractice and that any form of it would be handled according to the school’s guidelines.

At the end of 2 hours and 15 minutes, the PCs shut down and I was also rushed to the lab to see the students out. I would see the frustration on their faces and could easily tell that many of them hadn’t saved their work.

The highest score in that exam was 15% but it helped prepare our students to work within the set exam duration. The next time I used timing software in an exam, all students completed their paper within the prescribed time and the scores were way too good. This helped reduce the clogs during printing time during subsequent UNEB exams.

I have found the method of electronic timing software to be good in that you don’t need the presence of staff to manage the practical exam. This also helps the students by building in them the habit of working within the prescribed time and to save every change in their work. In the end, UNEB exams become a walk over. One of my former students, Daniel who was among that class and is now a student of IT at Nkumba University where I met him during the recently concluded WordCamp.

With Daniel, one of my former students at the recently concluded WordCamp in Entebbe

These and more insights will be shared as I speak alongside other distinguished facilitators at this year’s ICT Teachers Capacity Development Workshop at Kololo SS on 6th and 7th May 2019. Interested teachers of ICT should register at or call the National Chairman ITAU on 0778 068 991 or the National Coordinator on 0706 060 740.

Stephen Dumba
E-zone School of Computing
+256 752 111 223 / +256 772 111 223