FAQs

We have prepared some answers to potential questions about the online version of Trinity's GESE and ISE English language speaking and listening exams. We hope you find these useful.

They are Trinity's usual GESE and ISE speaking and listening exams. However, instead of candidates having a one-to-one discussion with the examiner in person, they have a one-to-one discussion with the examiner on a computer via Zoom video conferencing software. GESE and ISE delivered via video conferencing is an interim digital alternative assessment for delivering GESE and ISE speaking and listening exams during this time of pandemic.

Yes - the exam content and skills assessed are the same and results and certificates will be issued in the same way as for our usual GESE and ISE exams. The exam delivery format is different because, although it takes place in a registered exam centre, the examiner is present online via Zoom video conferencing software.

The health and safety of all candidates, centre staff and examiners is our absolute priority. For this reason, we have developed an alternative digital assessment for some of our exams. Trinity examiners do not need to visit Trinity centres to assess GESE and ISE candidates as they will be conducted online via video conference.

The online assessment mode of delivery has been designed to be implemented with the safety of candidates and centre staff in mind, and for local centres to be able to support and administer the exams according to local or regional government guidelines.

See ‘Additional information for centres’ to be read in conjunction with GESE and ISE Best Practice Guidebooks for details.

Centres simply download the Zoom app once from the internet to their desktop/laptop computer.

Zoom is the only video conferencing software that can currently be used to take a Trinity exam. To participate, it is essential that centres download the Zoom app, though they do not need to create a Zoom account.   

Centres need to use a desktop or laptop computer with either a webcam and an inbuilt microphone or a headset with working microphone. If you are using headsets, you will need to ensure you adhere to local health and safety measures for hygiene and sanitisation. Please note that tablets, such as iPads and mobile phones are not suitable devices for these exams. 

Centres must be equipped with appropriate hardware, software and internet in order to administer online exams. Details are outlined in the Additional Information guidance for centres offering these exams. Specifically, centres must have: 

  • An internet connection, broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE).  
  • A recommended bandwidth of 1.8 Mbps (upload/download). This can be checked here
  • A laptop or desktop with speakers and a microphone, either built into the computer or through a USB plug-in.
  • A laptop or desktop with a webcam or HD webcam, either built into the computer or through a USB plug-in

You need to have both working audio AND video to be able to take an exam on Zoom.  

These exams cannot be taken on mobile devices as they are not suitable for certain parts of these interactive exams. 

Centres with bookings will be invited to receive training on how to set up and run an exam session online. In the meantime, you could practise by downloading and opening the Zoom app. On exam day you will select ‘Join a meeting’ at the recommended time in advance of the session as advised in your instructions from Trinity, then:

  • Enter the examiner’s meeting ID provided for the session   
  • Enter the candidate’s first and last name   
  • Ensure the full name is entered exactly as it appears in the booking   
  • Select ‘Join’ to enter the waiting room  
  • Wait for the examiner to admit entrance to the virtual exam room  
  • The examiner should then be able to see and hear the candidate and start 

Candidates first enter a ‘virtual waiting room’, where they wait until the examiner admits them - they should not have to wait long. They will see a notice on the screen to reassure them that the examiner knows they are there.

Check that the web camera lens is not obstructed and that the audio is unmuted. If this does not work, try checking  that your microphone or camera is not connected to another app, such as Skype, as this can prevent Zoom from connecting. Try leaving the meeting, closing the Zoom app, re-entering the meeting code and going through the audio and video checks again when prompted. If none of these options work, please inform the examiner by email and contact your Trinity representative.  

Usually there is no one else is in the online virtual exam room. However, on occasion, Trinity will monitor examiners to ensure the consistent application of assessment criteria and exam procedures, so there may also be an examiner monitor in the virtual room, who you will not be able to see or hear.  

The examiner can see the name of candidates and that they have signed in, but the examiner cannot hear what the candidate is saying or see what the candidate is doing in the waiting room.  

First, centre support staff should try letting the examiner know by email, if necessary. If the issue is not quickly resolved within your centre, please contact your Trinity representative too. 

First, try to let the examiner know by email. If the issue cannot be quickly resolved, centre staff should contact their Trinity representative.  

This is not permitted - Zoom  automatically detects and prevents screen recording software. 

Candidates cannot log in or take this exam from home because this exam delivery method is strictly designed for delivery at registered exam centres.   

Please contact your Trinity representative immediately if the problem can’t be resolved within the time advised in your training and the exam will be rescheduled.   

There is no difference in difficulty level between the standard version of these exams and the online versions. 

A score would not be affected by a bad internet connection. Our examiners are trained to identify the difference between difficulties with Zoom/internet/microphones/webcams and English language-related issues, such as poor fluency, or not remembering the words needed to complete a sentence, for example. 

Candidates should prepare for the exam and exam tasks in the usual way. However, the method of sharing Topic points with the examiner is different.  Candidates (or support staff) enter Topic points in the chat box for the examiner to see at the start of the exam. In some cases, if arranged beforehand, the examiner may have an advance list of candidate Topics. Though not essential, it may be a good idea for candidates to download and practise using Zoom with friends before the exam, so that they feel familiar with waiting rooms, talking to people via the app and with using chat boxes. 

Yes – the examiner will share visual prompts on screen and use a pointer so the candidate can clearly follow their questions.  

Yes, although this is not required. If a candidate wishes to bring a photo or image to hold up to the webcam for the examiner see, please ensure they only bring an image up to A5 size. We recommend that candidates practise holding images up to a webcam on a computer before the exam to ensure the image can be clearly seen. 

For exams that involve a Topic discussion, candidates should copy their Topic talking points into the chat box for the examiner to see. Centre staff can do this before the start of the exam if the candidate cannot. 

For example (for GESE Grade 4):  

  • Topic: My hobby - ice-skating  
  • When I started   
  • How often I go   
  • What I like and dislike about it  
  • Differences between ice-skating and roller skating  

Yes – centre support staff may do this for the candidate. 

Students should practise and prepare as they would normally for Trinity speaking and listening exams. Parents/guardians should download and practise using Zoom with their children before the exam so that they feel familiar with waiting rooms, using chat boxes and talking to people via the app. The chat box is usually used at the start of the exam to let the examiner know what Topic they will be talking about. Centre support staff can help with this. 

Unfortunately, it is not possible to offer feedback sessions at the end of these alternative delivery method of exams because of the different logistical and scheduling requirements necessary for online exam delivery.  

Yes, they are - there are no differences to Trinity’s usual results and certificate arrangements.   

Yes - the exam times are the same, though the examiner timetabling arrangements are different where more examiner breaks are needed and there is a short gap between candidates. More details about this are contained in the booking information for centres and administrators. 

The examiners have been trained to use their professional judgement to determine whether any issues the candidate is having are language-related or not.  

All cases are considered individually. Please register details of needs in the usual way. For visually impaired candidates, for example, the examiners can conduct GESE Grades 2–12 online without visual materials and for Grade 1 candidates visuals can be enlarged, though there may be limitations due to screen size.  

The examiners have attended online assessment training and are regularly checked via Trinity’s quality assurance processes. 

No, the subject areas are general and therefore do not need to change. Candidates can choose what they want to talk about in the Topic task.  

The candidate enters their name onscreen spelt as on the booking form (staff can help with younger candidates) and confirms their identity at the examiner’s request. An onscreen notice also reminds the candidate that the session will be recorded and states that candidates must be who they say they are. 

Yes. The recordings will be used for quality assurance, monitoring and standardisation purposes and are for the benefit of the candidate and examiner. Recordings of exams are retained at Trinity’s central office and not made available to centres or candidates. 

To prevent this happening, we have put a number of measures in place following a thorough review of all security settings. Uninvited guests will not be able to participate in any of our exam sessions. 

Zoom collects information such as the computer IP address and details about the device Operating System but they do not use this data obtained for advertising. You have control over your own cookie settings when visiting their websites. For more information, visit Zoom’s privacy policy here  

ISE Reading & Writing exam dates for exams in registered centres can be found here.

Please get in touch with us on reporting@trinitycollege.com

The exams carried out through the video conferencing platform are assessed in the same way, and to the same high quality and standards, as the in-person exams. The exam results are determined in the same way as in-person exams, based on Trinity’s prescribed criteria and descriptors.  Exams are regularly monitored through our validation processes.

If for any reason, you would like your exam results to be reassessed, we can do this through our formal results review service.

If you would like to provide feedback or make a complaint about the service you have received
please email. complaints@trinitycollege.com  You can find our complaints process here.

If your complaint is about your SELT exam, you can find our SELT complaints process here.

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