Results and certification Access arrangements and special consideration

Access arrangements can be applied for by your school or college to help you access assessments. If you have difficulties during an exam, your school or college can request special consideration. This page provides an overview for students and parents.

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What are access arrangements?

Access arrangements are requested by your schools or colleges before you complete an assessment and allow them to make small changes to the way the assessment is delivered or completed.

These 'reasonable adjustments' allow students with special educational needs, disabilities or temporary injuries to show what they know and can do without changing the integrity or the demands of the assessment.

Some examples of access arrangements include supervised rest breaks, extra time and/or use of:

  • a reader or computer reader
  • 'read aloud' software or an exam reading pen
  • a scribe or voice recognition technology
  • a word processor
  • a bilingual translation dictionary

Through your teacher or exams officer/administrator.

All requests for access arrangements have to come from your school or college. They will assess the evidence available to make a decision about what support you can be given during an exam or assessment, within the rules we agree with the other awarding organisations through the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

If your school or college are unsure about the support you can get or need advice, they will get in touch with us to discuss your case.

You should start by talking it through with your school or college. They want the best for their students and will usually be able to explain the reasoning behind their access arrangement requests.

If, after speaking to your school or college, you're still unhappy with their decision, you can get in touch with our Learner Support helpdesk for advice on next steps.

Talk to your teacher or the exams officer/administrator at your school or college. They'll review your personal circumstances and may make a request for special consideration if they feel that you've been disadvantaged.

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What is special consideration?

Special consideration is a post-exam adjustment to your mark or grade to reflect personal circumstances that affected your performance during an assessment.

There are a wide range of reasons why special consideration may be requested and although it can't remove the difficulty you faced, it can go some way to taking emotional or physical difficulties into account.

There are times when emotional or physical difficulties mean that you shouldn't take an assessment. If you think this may be the case, you should discuss your concerns with your school or college.

You need to speak to your teacher or the exams officer/administrator at your school or college.

All requests for special consideration have to come from your school or college. They will assess the evidence available and let you know if they need more information before they can submit an application on your behalf.

The process for awarding special consideration is slightly different depending on whether or not you were able to attend the assessment. In both cases, the grade you're awarded will be based on the available evidence and this means that any adjustments we make may not be enough to match your predicted grade or your true level of ability.

The rules we use for applying special consideration are agreed with the other awarding organisations through the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

Present for the assessment but disadvantaged

If you were able to attend the assessment but personal circumstances meant that you weren't able to perform to the best of your ability, we'll multiply the number of marks you achieved on the paper (your raw mark) by a small percentage. The size of the increase we give you will depend on your individual circumstances.

Only minor adjustments can be made to your mark as your overall grades must reflect the level of attainment you have demonstrated. To make larger adjustments would jeopardize the standard of the assessment.

Absent from the assessment

If your personal circumstances prevent you from completing an assessment we may still be able to issue you with a calculated your overall grade based on previous achievement and other available evidence.

The rules around this process are quite complicated and you will need to meet a range of criteria including:

  • you were prepared to take the assessment but missed it for an acceptable reason
  • you've completed enough assessments for the course to meet the minimum requirements for enhanced grading.

Please speak to your school or college if you need more information about these requirements.

In most cases, you will need to speak to your school or college if you're unhappy with the level of special consideration we've applied. Your head teacher or principal can then appeal on your behalf.

The only exception to this rule is if you've entered for the assessment as an external/private candidate. These students can lodge appeals directly.

Find out more about appeals

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