Skip to main content

Access Arrangements (help in exams)

Extra help or adjustments to exams are called 'Access Arrangements'.

‘Access Arrangements’ allow students with special educational needs, disabilities or temporary injuries to access exams and show what they know and can do.

However, 'Access Arrangements' are not allowed to give the student an unfair advantage or compromise the integrity of the exam. This means that there will have to be evidence that any additional support provided in the tests is also the same as or similar to the additional support regularly provided to the student as part of normal classroom practice (except in the case of injuries). For example, a student would only be allowed to use a laptop in exams if they normally use one in class. Access arrangements must also be appropriate to the exam and the student. For example, a student with dyslexia may need extra time for a written exam, but not for a practical one. 

There are a wide range of possible Access Arrangements that can be made, including:

  • extra time to read, understand, and produce answers, for example, if you have difficulties with memory and processing information.  (The typical amount of extra time awarded to students with special educational needs (SENs) is 25 per cent.)
  • assistance from another person or assistive software:
    • a reader (this can either be a person or assistive software such as a screen reader, read aloud or a reading pen)
    • a scribe (amanuensis) a person who writes down exactly what you say or assistive software such as a voice recognition programme
  • assistive technology e.g. a word processor, computer equipment, specialist software, assistive software. (It’s important that technical support on hand in case there are any problems with equipment) Word processing facilities if motor control is impaired;
  • a separate room with an invigilator, or alternative site arrangement - so that you’re not disturbed by other candidates (if there are sensory issues), and they are not disturbed by you.
  • opportunities to take supervised rest breaks
  • modified exam papers in your preferred format, plain coloured paper, braille, large print, audio format, signs or symbols etc. printed on coloured paper or printed in ink other than blue or black, dyslexia-friendly font, coloured/enlarged papers, papers with modified language
  • assistance from another person
    • a prompter (to keep you focused)
    • a practical assistant
  • coloured overlays
  • Medical support and emergency arrangements, Provision of snacks during exams
  • Exam officers to be aware that problems may arise during exam periods

Whilst some 'Access Arrangements' can be made by School without prior approval (delegated arrangements), many others will require advance application (before the February deadline) for approval or notification.  

Every year the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) produce Access Arrangements, Reasonable Adjustments and Special Consideration documents that contains the rules, regulations and guidance on what a student may, or may not receive when sitting formal examinations and lists the types of arrangements that may apply.

Most education providers and examining bodies will have made exam arrangements for individual students before. But they may not have come across all possible arrangements as support needs vary from person to person. If you think access arrangements may be required it is best to discuss this as early as possible, preferably at the start of the relevant course.