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Invigilator vs. Proctor: What's the Difference?

By Aimie Carlson || Updated on May 20, 2024
An invigilator oversees exams in British English, ensuring rules are followed, while a proctor serves a similar role in American English, monitoring students during tests.

Key Differences

An invigilator is a term primarily used in British English to describe someone who supervises students during examinations. Their main responsibility is to ensure that the exam conditions are fair and that all rules and regulations are adhered to. A proctor, on the other hand, is the equivalent term used in American English. Like invigilators, proctors are responsible for overseeing exams and ensuring that students follow the rules. They monitor the exam room, handle any disruptions, and provide instructions to students.
Invigilators often follow specific protocols set by educational institutions or examination boards. They may be required to complete training to familiarize themselves with these protocols. In contrast, proctors in the United States might have similar training requirements but the terminology and some procedural details can vary depending on the institution.
Both invigilators and proctors must remain vigilant throughout the examination period. They walk around the exam room, observe students' behavior, and handle any suspected cases of academic dishonesty. Their role is essential in creating a controlled environment where students can perform to the best of their abilities without unfair advantages.
While the terms invigilator and proctor are used in different regions, their functions are essentially the same. Both roles focus on maintaining the fairness and integrity of the examination process, ensuring that all students adhere to the prescribed guidelines.

Comparison Chart


United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries
United States

Primary Role

Supervises exams to ensure rules are followed
Monitors students during tests


Prevents cheating, assists with issues
Prevents cheating, provides instructions


Often institution-specific protocols
Institution-specific, varies by school

Terminology Usage

British English
American English

Invigilator and Proctor Definitions


An official responsible for maintaining order in the exam hall.
The invigilator handed out the test papers and read the instructions.


An official who supervises the conduct of an examination.
The proctor announced the start and end times of the test.


A person appointed to oversee the conduct of an examination.
The invigilator collected all the exam papers once the time was up.


A monitor who provides instructions and assistance during exams.
The proctor explained the procedure for filling out the answer sheets.


A person who supervises students during exams.
The invigilator walked around the room to ensure no one was cheating.


Someone responsible for ensuring test rules are followed.
The proctor observed the room to detect any signs of cheating.


Someone who enforces exam rules and regulations.
The invigilator noticed a student attempting to use unauthorized notes.


An individual appointed to oversee the administration of exams.
The proctor addressed a student's concern about the test format.


A monitor ensuring exam conditions are fair.
The invigilator assisted a student who had a question about the exam procedure.


A supervisor especially of an examination or dormitory in a school.


To watch over, especially to monitor (students) who are taking a written test.


To supervise (an examination).


A person who supervises students during an examination; a proctor


(US) A person who supervises students as they take an examination, in the United States at the college/university level; often the department secretary, or a fellow/graduate student; an invigilator.


A person who supervises a gallery at a museum.


(UK) An official at any of several older universities.


Someone who watches examination candidates to prevent cheating.


A legal practitioner in ecclesiastical and some other courts.


Someone who watches examination candidates to prevent cheating


(obsolete) One appointed to collect alms for those who could not go out to beg for themselves, such as lepers and the bedridden.


A procurator or manager for another.


A representative of the clergy in convocation.


(US) to function as a proctor


(transitive) to manage as an attorney or agent


One who is employed to manage to affairs of another.


To act as a proctor toward; to manage as an attorney or agent.


Someone who supervises (an examination)


As of students taking an exam, to prevent cheating


A person who monitors students during exams.
The proctor checked each student's ID before the test began.


Where is the term invigilator commonly used?

The term invigilator is commonly used in the UK and other Commonwealth countries.

Where is the term proctor commonly used?

The term proctor is commonly used in the United States.

Are invigilators and proctors the same?

Yes, they perform similar roles but the terms are used in different regions.

What are the main duties of an invigilator?

An invigilator ensures the exam conditions are fair, prevents cheating, and assists with any issues.

Do invigilators require training?

Yes, invigilators often need to complete training specific to the institution's protocols.

Are proctors involved in exam setup?

Yes, proctors may assist with setting up the exam room and providing instructions.

What is an invigilator?

An invigilator supervises students during exams to ensure rules are followed, primarily used in British English.

What is a proctor?

A proctor is a term used in American English for someone who monitors students during exams.

What are the main duties of a proctor?

A proctor monitors students, ensures rules are followed, and provides instructions during exams.

Are invigilators involved in exam setup?

Yes, invigilators may help set up the exam environment and distribute test materials.

Do proctors interact with students?

Yes, proctors provide guidance and address any student concerns during the exam.

Do proctors require training?

Yes, proctors may also need training, which can vary by institution.

Do invigilators interact with students?

Yes, invigilators may interact with students to answer procedural questions and maintain order.

Is the term invigilator used in American English?

No, the term invigilator is rarely used in American English.

Is the term proctor used in British English?

No, the term proctor is rarely used in British English.

Can the terms invigilator and proctor be used interchangeably?

They can be used interchangeably in terms of function but not regionally.

What does an invigilator do during an exam?

An invigilator observes students, ensures compliance with rules, and handles any disruptions.

What is the focus of an invigilator's role?

The focus of an invigilator's role is to maintain the integrity and fairness of the examination process.

What is the focus of a proctor's role?

The focus of a proctor's role is to ensure that exam rules are followed and to monitor students during the test.

What does a proctor do during an exam?

A proctor monitors the room, checks student IDs, and addresses any issues that arise.
About Author
Written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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