Exam Access Arrangements (EAAs) are the reasonable adjustments that can be made for an exam candidate, and might include things like extra time to complete an exam paper, permission to use assistive technology, or provision of rest breaks.
Exam arrangements can only be granted if they are a candidate’s ‘normal way of working’ and the candidate has a history of need. This is quite commonly misinterpreted, so parents beware. Any arrangements made must reflect the support that the candidate has had in the past few years, alongside their assessment test results.
An assessor’s report must show that the candidate has a significant and long-term impairment. For example a candidate who is eligible for extra time would need to have scores that are below average in speed of writing, reading, reading comprehension or cognitive process, demonstrating they work much more slowly than others. This must then be backed up by teachers, and evidence must be provided that this is the candidate’s normal way of working.
This list is not exhaustive, but these are some of the most common arrangements:
Extra time: The most frequent EAA is extra time which is usually around 25%. More time can be allocated to candidates with more severe difficulties and disability on an individual case by case basis.
A reader: Readers can be used for candidates who have visual impairments or a disability that affects their ability to read accurately themselves. In an exam that assesses reading ability a human reader is not allowed. In some cases a computer reader will be allowed.
A scribe: Scribes can be allocated to candidates who have a disability or injury that affects their ability to write legibly.
Modified papers: These are papers which must be ordered well in advance of the exam in different sizes, fonts, colours, braille, or modified language.
Assistive technology: If the candidate uses assistive technology as their normal way of working they will be able to continue this for exams. Some of the most common requests are for word processors, exam reading pens, computer text readers, and voice processors.
The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) oversees Exam Access Arrangements for GCSE and GCE (A-Level) qualifications.
Decisions are based on:
• The school’s knowledge of the student’s needs and the support put in place in the classroom - their normal way of working
• Findings of an assessor’s assessments
• The requirements of the subjects they are taking
A learner does not need a diagnosis of a learning difficulty, including dyslexia, to receive Access Arrangements.
A diagnosis of dyslexia will not mean automatic Exam Access Arrangements - it is the evidence of the student’s needs in their normal learning situation which is most important.
Regulations are very clear that an independent assessment carried out without prior consultation with the school cannot be used to award Access Arrangements. However, an independent assessment report may be used to build a picture of the student’s needs which will inform decisions made by the school about Access Arrangements.
Medway can support schools with the completion of a FORM 8: Application for Access Arrangements - Profile of Learning Difficulties. Please contact the school directly for more information.