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Students with disabilities and learning difficulties – from physical disabilities through to neurodevelopmental disorders such as dyslexia, ADHD, developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD/dyspraxia) and ASD – will often have problems in coping with tests and examinations, especially under time-limited conditions. Appropriate ‘access arrangements’ have to be made, to ensure that such students are competing on an equal footing and are able to demonstrate, fairly and accurately, their understanding of the curriculum.

A student’s need of such access arrangements should be individually assessed so that the most appropriate recommendations can be made, in accordance with the regulations published by the examiners (whether for transfer tests to post-primary education, at GCSE and A level education). Access arrangements can vary from the relatively common and straightforward, for example extra time, to the more exceptional, and are also available in professional and occupational entrance and qualification test procedures (eg health professionals, police and fire and rescue services, civil service).

The practice has wide experience in assessing students’ access arrangements for examinations and in making appropriate recommendations. Students are also helped by guiding them towards efficient study skills and by helping, if necessary, to deal with test anxiety.