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Access Arrangements

British Dyslexia Association

Access Arrangements are pre-examination adjustments for candidates based on evidence of need and normal way of working. Access Arrangements fall into two categories: some arrangements are delegated to centres, others require prior Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) awarding body approval. Access Arrangements allow candidates/learners with special educational needs, disabilities or temporary injuries to access the assessment without changing the demands of the assessment.  For example, readers, scribes and Braille question papers.  In this way Awarding Bodies will comply with the duty of the Equality Act 2010 to make 'reasonable adjustments' (JCQ).


Formal identification of a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia, is unnecessary for special consideration during KS2 examinations, only the identification of need is required to request additional time. However, the school does need to ask permission for additional time and provide evidence to substantiate it.

school will provide the required exam paperwork (JCQ form 8) with part A filled in prior to the assessment: the assessor completes section C with the results of the assessment.

students at university

Within the general population about 10% of people are thought to have specific learning difficulties of some kind. In HE the figure is likely to be around 5%. Additionally, many students are not in a statistical count because they have not disclosed or because they have not been formally assessed. 

The academic demands of higher education are different to those of school and college. Specific learning difficulties, including dyslexia, can affect most aspects of study in higher education, and it is likely that students with SpLDs will encounter a number of barriers to learning: 

  • Universities are much larger institutions than schools colleges and each course module may have hundreds of students with only one or two lecturers. Therefore, independent learning is the norm and students who are used to small classes and personal relationships with teachers may find the transition very difficult. 

  • Students may not have had the opportunity to learn the specific study skills for higher education.

  • Learning and assessment may create a higher level of stress and anxiety for students with SpLD.

  • Students may lack self-confidence and experience low self-esteem as a result of their impairments and their past experiences in education. 

  • Reading can be extremely fatiguing for a number of reasons: slow reading speed, difficulty with scanning text to extract key information, difficulty with tracking resulting in skipping over or repeat-reading words and/or whole lines of text.  All of the above could lead to difficulties with comprehension. 

  • Difficulty with simultaneously listening and writing/typing when note taking.

  • Difficulty/slowness with handwriting and subsequent discomfort or fatigue over longer periods. 

  • Handwriting becoming illegible when under pressure.

  • Poor short-term memory resulting in difficulties with copying information from board/projector. 

  • Researching assignment topics extremely time consuming as a result of reading issues mentioned above. 

  • Difficulties with lower order writing skills like spelling, grammar and punctuation. 

  • Difficulties with planning and structuring work and organising information (often as a result of attention that must be given to lower order skills). 

  • Difficulty with expressing knowledge of a topic coherently. Lack of fluency in written work. Sentences may be tangential or circuitous. Text may contain omissions and repetitions. 

  • Difficulty in proof reading work for errors due to above mentioned reading issues. 

  • Difficulties with organisation and time management resulting in missed deadlines. 

  • Difficulties with memory and concentration impact on exam performance. 

  • Spelling and grammatical errors and proof reading issues may be heightened in an exam situation due to time pressure and exam anxiety.

If you have a specific learning difficulty, such as dyslexia, and are a full or part-time undergraduate or postgraduate student in higher education and are ordinarily resident in the UK, you could be eligible for Disabled Students' Allowances (DSA). This includes nursing, PGCE and Open University students. Although you may not consider yourself to be disabled, the DSA refers to any medical condition, specific learning difficulty or mental health problem which may have a disabling impact on an individual’s ability to learn. The DSA could include an allowance for specialist equipment and specialist one to one study skills support. For those with a specific learning disability (e.g. dyslexia, dyspraxia), the evidence required to apply would be in the form of a report from a qualified person such as an specialist teacher or educational psychologist. These are the kind of assessments we provide. For application for the DSA this report will need to have been undertaken as an adult, after your 16th birthday.  

Higher education students with disabilities who do not declare their difficulties are less likely to complete their studies and less likely to achieve a first or upper second-class degree. However, the outcomes for students in receipt of the Disabled Students’ Allowance are broadly in line with those of students with no known disability (Higher Education Learning Council for England). Given appropriate support, the the vast majority of students with SpLDs pass their degree courses and go on to find graduate employment at the same rate as their peers without SpLDs.












If you are unsure about whether you would qualify, Contact Associates have provided a free, online eligibility checker. click here

The Disabled Students Allowance
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