Exam Access Arrangements allow exam candidates to show what they know, understand and can do without changing the demands of the assessment. They are granted by the awarding bodies to comply with the duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments for students who are eligible. There are various arrangements that can be put in place, all of which have the intention of providing equal opportunity to access GCSEs, Btec exams and A levels.

The rationale behind the application is that a need is identified and that the arrangement is a student’s normal way of working in the classroom. As part of the procedure, students trial the access arrangements and the school gathers the evidence from teachers of the student’s normal way of working. The school may need to provide evidence of this to the JCQ.

Extra time

Extra time (usually 25%) can be awarded in certain circumstances for slower speed of processing, reading or handwriting. An application and evidence have to be presented to the JCQ and it has to be the candidate’s normal way of working. The evidence may include an EHCP stating a learning difficulty, a medical condition confirmed by a medical consultant or an assessment carried out by an assessor who has a relationship with the school plus a detailed picture of need which includes evidence from the teachers.

Reader/Computer Reader

Students who are entitled to a reader may ask the trained member of staff to read the question and the text (except in exams assessing reading). Students entitled to a computer reader (either a pen or text to speech technology) may use this in an exam if it has been approved by school and is the student’s normal way of working. Students entitled to a reader/computer reader may not have anything explained to them. They may ask for their answers to be read back to them. An application for the award of reader has to be made to the JCQ and evidence from teachers available to view and it is to be the normal way of working in school.


When an award for scribe is made to the JCQ, pupils may have a scribe who writes on behalf of the candidate. This application is subject to certain criteria being met and evidenced. It must be the student’s normal way of working and students will be given the opportunity to practice with a scribe in internal exams. The student may lose marks for spelling and/or punctuation depending upon their way of working and area of difficulty. To encourage independence a student may use a word processor instead of a scribe.

Use of Word Processor (computer)

A word processor is awarded if it is the student’s normal way of working due to a learning difficulty, a medical condition or a physical or sensory impairment. The awarding of a word processor is made in line with the school’s word processor policy and in most cases a student must either bring in a laptop from home (with prior arrangement with the school) or have one issued by the SEND department. George Abbot administers exams on the programme WORDPAD which has no spellcheck or page breaks so it is imperative that the student practices using this or its equivalent.

Rest breaks

Rest breaks may be put in for students with an identified need. This could be medical or connected with learning issues. We normally offer 5 minutes per 30 minutes of the exam to be taken at the desk. The student needs to raise their hand and ask for a rest break. The paper is turned over and the time added on at the end. It is on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis ie taken in that half hour not all taken together at the end.

Coloured overlays, Coloured paper and/or enlarged font, colour deficiency

If a student has been identified as having visual stress when reading they may use a coloured overlay provided this is their normal way of working in the classroom. Modified papers can also be ordered in advance for students with an identified need. These can be on coloured or enlarged paper and/ or font. If a student has a colour deficiency identified they may be entitled to coloured or modified papers and/or they may have the colours described to them in the exam.

Read Out Loud

Some pupils may need to read the question and/or their answers aloud to help process information. This may be due to a specific learning difficulty. This will have been their normal way of working in the classroom and in internal exams.

Sixth Form Arrangements

In the Sixth Form, the onus is much more on the students to collect their own evidence both from teachers and in the form of exam papers where they have used their Exam Access Arrangements. Further testing is not normally required.