Guidance on the MCA Online Oral Examination Process 

Summary

MIN 690 provides information on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) oral examination booking process.

The MIN also alerts candidates to the commencement of recording of the online face-to-face oral examinations, how the MCA deals with malpractice and breach of examination procedures and the appeal process for MCA examinations.

Introduction

  1. The oral examinations will be recorded to provide objective evidence in the event of candidate appeal and/or examiner’s concern over candidate’s conduct.
  2. The OOW Unlimited deck “MCA oral examination” will now consist of a Part A: Online computer based proctored examination and a Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination.

Teams based Oral Examinations

Following the successful introduction of Teams based online face-to-face oral examinations during the COVID pandemic the MCA have taken the decision to retain this format. Except in exceptional circumstances agreed by the Chief Examiner, all parts of MCA oral examinations will be delivered through an online platform.

Candidates must retain scanned copies of the overview signature pages from the TRB as these may be required during the oral examination.

Oral Examination Booking Process for candidates other than OOW unlimited deck candidates

The NoE/NoA email will contain either a booking link to the Online Booking Service for the face-to-face oral examination or, in the case of OOW Unlimited deck candidates, a link to access the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination.

The email will include all required examination information such as Candidate Code of Conduct, the agreement statement for recording of the oral examination, instructions for the use of Microsoft Teams, guidance on the proctored examination process and (for Deck Officer candidates) a Radar Plotting Sheet.

The Booking link does not permit bookings for examinations taking place within the next 14 days. For bookings within the next 14 days please contact the Online Oral Exams team via email at onlineoralexams@mcga.gov.uk.

The NoE/NoA email will state the exam type candidates are eligible for. Candidates should check that the exam type is correct on receiving a link and/or before accessing the online booking system to select a date and time slot for an oral examination. In the event that the examination type is incorrect, they should email Seafarer Services (deck@mcga.gov.ukengineering@mcga.gov.uk or fse@mcga.gov.uk) as appropriate.

Candidates must not make multiple examination bookings. All booked examinations will be cancelled for those found to have made multiple examination bookings when only entitled to sit one examination.

Oral Examination Booking Process for OOW unlimited deck candidates

Part A: Online computer based proctored examination booking process

A link, username and password providing access to the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination will be provided within the NoE email. On receipt of this link, Part A of the examination can be taken at any time.

Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination booking process

OOW unlimited deck candidates will be eligible to take the Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination once they have passed Part A.

The Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination must be completed within 12 months of passing Part A. In exceptional circumstances this period may be extended at the discretion of the Chief Examiner.

The email confirming that a candidate has passed Part A of the examination will contain a link allowing booking of the Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination. If there is no link in the email received, candidates should contact the Exams Team at exams@mcga.gov.uk who will book a Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination.

When contacting the exams team, candidates must use the same email address that will be used to access the examination. Changes to the email address used will result in the examination being cancelled and a new booking will need to be issued.

Candidates who need to amend / update their email address should inform onlineoralexams@mcga.gov.uk of the new email address who will then book a new oral examination appointment and forward an updated link. Requests of this nature must be made at least 3 working days prior to the date of the original oral examination booking.

(n.b. Rediff email addresses are not compatible with Microsoft Teams.)

About The OOW unlimited deck oral examination

About the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination

The MCA will use the online platform My Know for the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination. Candidates will be required to log onto the platform to take the examination using the username and password supplied with the NoE email. The actual Part A examination will last for 40 minutes and answers to all questions must be submitted within this timeframe.

The split-oral examination is a proctored examination that must be taken under examination conditions to avoid the candidate being flagged for malpractice. Proctoring uses a variety of tools to confirm the identity of the candidate and that examination conditions are maintained throughout.

The Part A examination currently consists of 15 questions, each containing four test points. It will be made up of three questions each on the topics of the International Collision Regulations, the IALA system of buoyage and navigational procedures. The remaining six questions will be drawn from the remainder of the syllabus as contained in MIN 653 – Amendment 1.

To be successful, the candidate will be required to attain a minimum of 90% in each of the topics covering the International Collision Regulations and the IALA system of buoyage, 80% in the topic covering navigational procedures combined with a minimum of 70% across the entire examination.

The candidate must ensure that they are ready in all respects prior to launching the assessment as the examination is proctored and for this purpose candidates are required to remain in view of their device camera until the examination is completed.

In the event that the time allowed for the examination expires prior to all answers being submitted, the platform will automatically stop the examination and the answers already submitted will be saved. The result will be issued based on the questions which have been submitted.

The result will not be given on completion of the split-oral examination to allow for the proctoring process to be completed. Results will be emailed to the candidate within 5 working days.

Candidates who suffer from connectivity issues resulting in repeated interruption to the examination process may be permitted to resit the examination at the discretion of the MCA.

The examination is proctored throughout and will be reviewed if there is any suggestion of malpractice. In the event of confirmed malpractice the candidate’s exam may be cancelled and considered as a fail. Additionally, appropriate penalties may be issued depending on the level of malpractice identified. In the event of suspicion of malpractice and depending on the circumstances of the malpractice flag, the MCA may require the candidate to retake the examination after review.

The candidate should take the examination in a suitable room and have the necessary amenities at hand. E.g clear desk, comfortable chair, water, low ambient noise and adequate lighting with no glare.

The IT equipment provided must be equipped with a working camera and connected to the internet via a reliable high-speed internet connection (recommended minimum 10mbps).

It is recommended that the examination software is launched on devices such as laptops, desktop computers or tablets equipped with the current updated software version. Please note the examination cannot be accessed via mobile phone.

As part of the proctoring process, candidates will be expected to use the device camera to film the room they are using for the examination.

Candidates are not permitted to wear headphones during any part of the oral examination process.

During the examination candidates are not permitted to leave their position in front of the host device and should ensure that nobody else enters the room as the proctoring tool will flag this up as malpractice.

Candidates are advised to use the restroom before starting the examination.

During the examination after submitting an answer and moving to the next question, candidates will not be able return to previous questions.

The examination is ended by clicking the“Submit” button or automatically when the allocated time for the examination is exhausted.

There is no additional charge for the first attempt of the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination. However, in line with MCA cost recovery guidelines there will be a charge for all subsequent attempts.

In the event of a candidate failing the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination they will receive a link to GovPay to pay for a resit. On payment of the fee, a new link to the examination will be issued.

Candidates who fail will not be able to take a first resit within 2 weeks of the first examination or a second resit within 2 weeks of the second examination. Subsequent resits must have a minimum of 3 months between them.

By commencing the oral examination candidates are confirming that they are fit to undertake the examination and are using a reliable device which is connected to a suitable and stable internet connection.

More information on Malpractice can be found in section 10.

Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination

The MCA use Microsoft Teams for oral examinations. Candidates will require access to Microsoft Teams prior to the start of the examination.

Candidates must log onto the meeting at least 10 minutes prior to the designated start time. Candidates who have not appeared in the virtual waiting room within five minutes of the scheduled examination start time will be deemed to have failed.

Candidates who are unable to attend the examination without a valid reason shall be considered to have failed.

Candidates are required to present in a suitable room and have the necessary amenities available i.e. a clear desk, comfortable chair, water, low ambient noise and is adequately lit with no glare. The IT equipment provided must have a camera and access to a reliable high-speed internet connection (recommended minimum 10mbps), enough for Microsoft Teams to be successfully supported. Candidates are not permitted to wear headphones during any part of the oral examination.

If during the exam there are connectivity and/or reliability issues resulting in repeated interruption to IT equipment or connections, this will result in postponement and a requirement to re-schedule the examination.

It is the responsibility of the candidate to provide a reliable internet connection and a third postponement owing to internet issues will result in the examination being declared a failure.

Candidates wishing to postpone their examination appointment are required to provide the MCA with at least 14 days notice by email. More than two cancellations may result in forfeit of the examination fee. If you cancel within 14 days of your appointment, or fail to attend without a valid reason, the examination will be declared a fail by default.

Candidates wishing to cancel an examination should email onlineoralexams@mcga.gov.uk in order to be provided with a new booking link.

Post examination processes

On completion of the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination

The examination outcome will be communicated to the candidate by email. Should no result be received within 5 working days, candidates should contact exams@mcga.gov.uk.

Candidates who pass the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination will receive an email containing a link to the online booking platform for booking the Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination or will need to contactexams@mcga.gov.ukin order to book their Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination

Candidates who fail the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination will receive an email detailing the procedure to retake the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination, including details of the payment required.

On completion of an oral examination or a Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination

Once the candidate has completed their oral examination the MCA Examiner will verbally give them their result and any feedback. The MCA examiner will then complete and submit an examination result form which will automatically generate a result email to the candidate confirming the result and providing feedback in the event of a fail.

In the event that the candidate does not receive a result email within 5 working days of the oral examination taking place they should contact onlineoralexams@mcga.gov.uk.

Candidates who pass their Oral examination should submit a copy of the result email and any outstanding documents or evidence as required by the applicable MSN (noted in the table in section 4.1of this Notice) to the relevant team, eitherdeck@mcga.gov.ukorengineering@mcga.gov.uk(as applicable).

Candidates who fail their oral examination and wish to apply for a resit should submit a copy of their result email along with any supporting documentation to the appropriate team by email, (deck@mcga.gov.ukorengineering@mcga.gov.uk(as applicable)). These candidates will be required to pay an additional fee via GOV.UK Pay before applying for a new NOE. Further information on the resit process can be found in the relevant MSN (see table insection 4.1of this Notice).

Resits

Part A: Online computer based proctored examination resit

In the event of a failure of the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination, the candidate will be required to resit the examination. The candidate will not be able to proceed to the Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination until the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination has been passed.

If a candidate fails the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination, re-sits may be taken at the following intervals:

• Second attempt – at least two weeks after the initial examination

• Third attempt – at least two weeks after the second attempt

• Subsequent attempts – at least three months after the previous attempt

To apply for a resit, the candidate must pay the appropriate fee via (govpay/bacs). The fee for the first resit is £159. For subsequent resits the fee is £84. On receipt of the appropriate fee, and when any time penalty applied due to failure has elapsed, the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination will be available to resit. A notification to the candidate will be sent at this time.

Please note that at the point of applying for a resit, the candidate is required to have a minimum of 6 months sea service in the last 5 years. It is the responsibility of the seafarer to ensure they still meet the sea time requirement at the time of reapplying for the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination. If required, evidence of this can be sent to the relevant team within Seafarer Services. The candidate is only required to send further evidence of sea service if the sea service submitted with the original application has expired.

Online oral examination or Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination resit

In the event of failure of the online oral examination or Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination, the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination will be required to be taken again if more than 12 months has elapsed since passing it. The Part A: Online computer based proctored examination requirement is only applicable to OOW unlimited deck candidates at this time.

The candidate can apply to resit their online oral examination or Part B exam by emailing the relevant team in Seafarer Services and paying the appropriate fee (£159).

If a candidate fails the online oral examination or Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination, re-sits will not be able to be booked within the following time intervals:

• Second attempt – at least two weeks after the initial examination

• Third attempt – at least two weeks after the second attempt

• Subsequent attempts – at least three months after the previous attempt

Please note that at the point of applying for a resit, the candidate is required to have a minimum of 6 months sea service in the last 5 years. It is the responsibility of the seafarer to ensure they still meet the sea time requirement at the time of reapplying for the online oral examination or Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination. If required, evidence of this can be sent to the relevant team within Seafarer Services. The candidate is only required to send further evidence of sea service if the sea service submitted with the original application has expired.

Resit payment

All resit fee payments for the Part A: Online computer based proctored examination and Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination will be processed via GOV.UK Pay/BACS. Further information on the resit process can be found in this document and the relevant MSN (seesection 4.1of this Notice).

Malpractice

Any breach of the assessment rules and regulations or malpractice will be investigated by the MCA and may result in actions and/or penalties against the candidate.

Examples of breach/actions that can be considered as malpractice include, but are not limited to:

  • Receiving help from another person/source either online or in person
  • Failing to comply with any examination rules and/or instructions
  • Continuously looking around in a suspicious manner
  • Use, or suspicion of use, of items such as online programs, search engines, recorders, books, earphones, mobile phones, notes and other papers at any time during the examination, other than items approved by the MCA
  • No valid ID, or another person taking the examination on registered candidate’s behalf
  • Webcam on PC/laptop/tablet used for exam and proctoring obscured or face being obscured
  • Leaving the examination room without prior permission from the MCA to do so and with no valid reason
  • Accessing web pages or any other applications
  • Behaviours that are considered inappropriate upon review

The examinations will be recorded or proctored and reviewed as appropriate for any breach of rules and malpractice.

The MCA will retain any material considered as evidence of a candidate breach of rule and malpractice.

Candidates found to have breached the rules and/or engaged in malpractice may be subject to actions including, but not limited to;

  • Disqualification and voided result
  • A sea time penalties
  • Referral to the MCA Investigation Team for fraud
  • Prevention from taking further MCA examinations for a defined period

Recording of Oral Examinations

The MCA has commenced the recording of on-line face to face oral examinations to allow review in the event of a candidate appeal or Examiner’s concern.

In order to protect the integrity of the oral examination system, candidates will not have access to, nor be able to obtain a copy of the recording.

At the commencement of the examination the candidate will be asked for their agreement to record. If the candidate does not agree, an unrecorded examination will take place and in this situation there would be limited evidence to support any subsequent appeal.

If a candidate refuses the recording of the Part B: Online face-to-face oral examination, the candidate will be asked to confirm this in writing before the commencement of examination using the Teams (online platform) chat box for record and audit purposes.

Recording will not start until after the candidate’s identification has been verified. Once started, it will continue for the entire examination, the delivery of the result and any feedback given.

In the event of no appeal being received the recording will be deleted after 90 days.

Appeal Process

Part A: Online computer based proctored examination malpractice appeal process

Any appeal of the decision following a Malpractice review must be made by email toexams@mcga.gov.ukwithin 5 working days of the decision being communicated.

Appeals, including any evidence submitted will be assessed for a final decision by the Head of Nautical Examiners or the Chief Examiner.

Face-to-face oral examination result appeal process

All appeals must be made within 5 working days of the examination toexams@mcga.gov.ukdetailing the grounds for the appeal.

Appeals will be considered by a panel of examiners reporting to the Chief Examiner. During the appeal process the video recording of the examination will be reviewed.

The panel will be made up of a minimum of three examiners which will include at least two examiners holding eligibility to conduct the exam in question and at least one examiner of Grade 7 or above.

If the review panel uphold the appeal they can, at their discretion and depending on the circumstances, either overturn the result or offer a resit.

If the review panel find the appeal to be unfounded, they may at their discretion and depending on the circumstances, impose a restriction preventing the candidate from booking a resit for a period of up to three months.

The decision of the review panel is final.

More Information

UK Seafarer Services
Maritime and Coastguard Agency,
Bay 2/11
Spring Place,
105 Commercial Road,
Southampton,
SO15 1EG.

Email:

exams@mcga.gov.uk

onlineoralexams@mcga.gov.uk

General Enquiries:infoline@mcga.gov.uk

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