I live in the U.K. and I’m taking my A-Levels (the qualifications before university).

Yesterday I sat my Computer Science exam. This is the first of two papers, and is completed on the computer.

Once we enter the examination room, we are subject to examination conditions – no talking, no looking around and all unauthorised materials (notes, books, phones) are banned from the room.

We were assigned examination logins to the network which had the files we needed for the exam and nothing else. The computers were already logged in (as per the instructions issued by the exam board).

They had also locked down the computers, for example to disable the calculator and other unnecessary programs.

Slightly unusually, however, the Upload Centre for Windows 10 was running. This is a program on Windows 10 use to manage file conflicts when syncing with One Drive. I thought this was a little odd, and opened it to satisfy my curiosity. As expected there were no files pending. I didn’t notice at that time, but there was no error message saying that it could not connect to the internet. I closed this program.

Before the exam started, we were instructed to open the PDF, containing some instructions. As is the default on Windows 10, this opened in Edge – the web browser. I was a little surprised – I assumed they would have disabled Edge as it wouldn’t be needed, but they hadn’t. Again – I’m curious. I opened a new tab, pressed the ‘H’ key, and hit return. To my surprise – and concern – Bing proceeded to search for ‘H’.

I raised my hands and spoke to the invigilators. They were surprised and simply informed us to not use the internet. They didn’t seem to realise how serious this was – they informed us that they “didn’t want to see us playing any games”. I am confident I could have accessed Stack Overflow without them noticing.

To start the exam, a computer science teacher has to confirm everything is ready, resolve any issues, and give the invigilators the go ahead.

Throughout the exam, I did not manually access the internet. However, I know that Windows 10 certainly will have been forming connections for various programs (for example, one drive, windows monitoring tools, and any connections that Edge makes when it is opened).

After the exam, I had a maths exam in the afternoon, so I ignored the issue. When I was traveling home on the bus, I composed this email and sent it to my computer science teacher. It was sent after their work day finished, and I have not heard back from them over the weekend:

Before the exam started (at 9:15) I did 2 Bing searches, and discovered the internet was enabled. Of course, I did not access the internet again, but I would still like to confirm that even though my exam account accessed Bing there will be no issues? My account was No. 22 I think – candidate number 1499.

As an aside, apart from this being a bad idea (neither invigilator would know I was using the internet as neither were especially technically savvy – it would not have been difficult to search for answers), I was also rather concerned that I would accidentally click a link – for example in the Delphi Help, or when searching Cortana for a program and it provides web links.

I hope IT have turned off the internet connection for the exam accounts now. If not, I’m happy to tell them how I accessed it so they can prevent that.

Having submitted this question, I apologise for how long it is. You’re welcome to edit out any details that are not necessary.


A summary:

In a horrendous breach of national exam regulations, I was able to access the internet during an exam. I did not access the internet during the exam, although background tasks on my computer likely did. The senior computer science teacher who was in charge of the exam was informed: around 5 minutes before the exam started. He instructed us not to use the internet.

What should I do about this?

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