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What are special exam arrangements?

Special Exam Arrangements (SEAs) are offered to support students with a disability or medical condition by providing adjustments to the standard conditions under which exams are administered.

In short, students who have a temporary or permanent disability, illness and/or specific learning disability that could disadvantage them in timed assessments may apply to sit their exam under special conditions. An application needs to be made before the student sits their exam.

Special Exam Arrangements applications need to be made to the state curriculum and assessment authority through the student’s school. The application needs to be endorsed by the school principal.

In this section:

What types of testing accommodations are available?

Assistive technology and special exam arrangements

What types of testing accommodations are available?

A special exam arrangement means that one or more aspects of the exam conditions have been altered so that a student with a disability can fully demonstrate their mastery in any given subject. Special exam arrangements generally mirror any reasonable adjustments made for the student in the normal classroom environment. Some of the most common access arrangements include:

Extra time or breaks

The most common access arrangement is extra time. Extra working time is typically approved at a rate of 10 minutes per hour of the ‘total examination writing time’. Some students may also require breaks throughout the duration of an exam.

A reader

Students who have visual impairments or a disability that affects their ability to read accurately themselves may use a human reader, or a computer reader. A reader can read the exam paper and/or the student’s responses as often as requested by the student. The reader may also work with the student in any practice exams.

A scribe

For students who have a disability or injury which affects their ability to write legibly a human scribe is allowed to complete their written answers for them. The scribe may work with the student in any practice exams.

Assistive Technology (AT)

Students who have been permitted by the state authority, may use a computer and the appropriate assistive technology or software to help them complete their exam.

Alternative exam papers

These papers must be requested far in advance of the exam and can be requested in different fonts and font sizes, colours, braille or modified language.

Separate room

To reduce distractions some students may be allowed to sit their exam in a separate room. If the use of a scribe (or electronic scribe), reader (or electronic reader) or clarifier has been approved these students may complete their external assessment in a separate exam room.

Using assistive technology as part of your special exam arrangements

Students with documented disabilities may be allowed to use assistive technology (AT) in exams if it’s their normal way of working.

AT used during exams makes sure that every student can show their knowledge and mastery to the best of their abilities. AT is a means of levelling the playing field for students with disabilities and cognitive difficulties. Exam scenarios where students can use text-to-speech, or speech-to-text technology gives the student the opportunity to sit a test independently, without relying on a teacher or other human intervention.

Schools, exam supervisors and students themselves all play a vital role in the appropriate use of AT during exam time.

What is the school responsible for?

  1. Ensuring that only a computer and/or assistive technology approved by the state authority is available during assessment.
  2. Supplying a stand-alone computer that only has access to a word-processing package and approved software.
  3. Making sure predictive software features and dictionaries are disabled as appropriate.
  4. Ensuring access to the internet is restricted during the exam.
  5. Checking that the computer and any other equipment to be used on the day of the external assessment are working properly.
  6. Supplying a blank memory device for each assessment. And clearly labelling the memory device with the following: name of the external assessment, student number, and centre number.

What is the exam supervisor responsible for?

  1. Monitoring the computer screen at all times to ensure the student only has access to the documents related to the exam they’re sitting.
  2. Reminding the student at the beginning of the exam that they must save their work at regular intervals.
  3. Stopping the exam if problems are experienced with the computer or other software and equipment. Seeking appropriate assistance and then resuming the exam. The supervisor will also need to make sure the student loses no time.
  4. Printing the final version of the student’s responses at the end of writing time.
  5. Labelling the memory device with the student number and assessment name.

What is the student responsible for?

  1. Using a stand-alone computer that has access to a word-processing package and approved software only.
  2. Not accessing any other programs, files, or data.
  3. Saving their work regularly during the exam.
  4. Including their student number at the beginning of every page.
  5. Include the number of each question or task answered at the beginning of every page, ensuring that it correlates with the exam question or task book
  6. Witnessing the printing of their work from the memory device. This must be done when the assessment is completed.

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