College exams, or ‘collections’, are set at the start of each term in order to test understanding of the work covered in the previous term(s), to provide some practice at answering problems under examination conditions, and to give both students and tutors a good idea of the student’s progress and any areas that need work. Collections are usually based on past university examination questions. The results don’t count towards a student’s degree grade, but can be useful in predicting the degree class a given student is likely to achieve (and in some cases in providing the necessary motivation to try and improve on it!).

In the first year at Hertford, chemistry students will usually sit four collections at the start of Hilary and Trinity terms, in organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, and maths. In the second and third year collections are set in the three branches of chemistry.

In addition, each student attends one “Principal’s Collection” per year. These are relatively informal meetings and provide an opportunity for students to discuss their progress with the Principal and their tutors.

Finally, in exceptional circumstances, a ‘penal collection’ may be set for a particular student if they have persistently failed to produce work of the required standard. Achieving a minimum mark in an exam of this type may be stipulated as a condition for continuing on the M.Chem. course at Hertford.