Exam Access Arrangements

What are exam access arrangements?

Exam access arrangements are reasonable adjustments that remove or reduce some of the barriers that candidates with disabilities may face when sitting exams. They are available for most external exams and statutory assessments.

Why are there exam access arrangements?

The Equality Act (2010) requires organisations to ensure that people with disabilities are not treated unfavourably and are offered reasonable adjustments. Students with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, may require exam access arrangements. 

Exam Access Arrangements can include:

  • extra time
  • a reader or reading pen
  • a scribe
  • using a computer instead of handwriting answers
  • using assistive software (screen reader/voice recognition)
  • exam papers on coloured paper in dyslexia friendly font
  • supervised rest breaks
  • a separate room

How does a student obtain exam access arrangements?

The student’s exam centre will complete the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) Form 8, Part 1 outlining the student’s needs, persistence of any difficulties and the usual way of working in the classroom. This needs to be completed before an exam access assessment can take place. A specialist assessor will then investigate the student’s level of skills in areas such as reading, spelling, memory or working speed. Form 8, Part 2 is then completed. This will be used by the exam centre as evidence when they apply for concessions such as additional time or a scribe.

The specialist assessor is often a member of staff at the student’s school or college. Some institutions may use an external assessor. The student’s place of education must commission the assessment as a privately arranged assessment for Form 8 will not be accepted by the JCQ. 

This level of assessment does not provide a diagnosis of dyslexia

It provides evidence about weaknesses that may create inequality between candidates sitting the exams.

How long does it take?

The assessment takes about 45 minutes.

What is in the report?

As well as the background information outlined above, information about the tests used and the scores obtained will be recorded on Form 8. The information is used by the student’s school or college when making a request to JCQ for special arrangements. The student does not receive a written report.

Who can be assessed?

This assessment is for students with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, who may be eligible for special arrangements in formal examinations such as Functional Skills, GCSEs or A Levels. Ideally, assessment should be completed near the beginning of a course of study. For GCSEs this can be in Year 9. Applications need to be submitted to JCQ in advance of the exam period. For summer exams the closing date for applications is usually in February.

An assessment is not usually required for Key Stage 2 SATs in year 6. For students sitting common entrance exams, please ask the relevant authority administering the tests to discover if an assessment is required and what adjustments are available.

How much does it cost?

Exam Access Assessments can only be commissioned by exam centres. Talk to your child’s teachers and the school SENCO if you feel your child requires adjustments  because of a learning difficulty.

The fee for schools and colleges is £100 for a single assessment. If several students require assessments discounts are available.