Exam Access Arrangements for Maths

Exam accommodations for GCSE and A-Level maths students

What do exam access arrangements look like for maths?

Accommodations are changes or adjustments to the instructional environment, curriculum, or assessment that make it possible for all students to participate and learn. In maths exams, that might mean students need help in decoding mathematical symbols and language, such as unit abbreviations. They can be put into place for a variety of reasons - such as a student's disability, cultural background, English language proficiency, or reading level. The goal of accommodations is always the same: to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

More often, we’re seeing technology being chosen as an accommodation, over the traditional human reader or scribe. According to The Joint Council for Qualifications, JCQ, “SENCos may wish to consider the use of technology to a much greater extent instead of readers and scribes. Computer readers, examination reader pens, speech recognition technology and word processors not only allow candidates to work independently but are also a better preparation for further and higher education and in the world of employment.”

Why use a computer reader in maths exams?

A computer reader is a digital reading tool - a speech recognition or dictation tool - that can be used in place of a human reader that requires no training. It can be used with any word processor to read exam questions aloud, under exam conditions.

A computer reader is a secure way to allow all students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject, without compromising the integrity of the examination. As it’s a student’s normal way of working, the tool, and the voice associated with it, won’t be alien to the student on the day of their exam.

The JCQ Access Arrangements state that for maths, “[A Computer Reader] may decode symbols and unit abbreviations in Maths and Science examinations for candidates who require this arrangement in order to access the assessment and where it reflects the candidate’s current and normal way of working within the centre”

You can read the access arrangements in full on the JCQ website. (Pg 49 5.5.9)

Using Equatio as an exam accommodation

Equatio helps you save time, reduce costs and give students the [JCQ] approved support they need in GCSE and A-Level maths exams.

Equatio, our digital maths tool, can be used in line with the JCQ regulations that govern examinations in the UK.

Our easy-to-use exam mode allows easy restriction of features. So that students will only be able to access specific, approved features during their exam, protecting the integrity of the testing scenario.

A teacher will receive a list of accommodations that a student needs during an exam period. For example, let’s say a teacher must provide a way for the student to hear the maths read aloud. Exam Mode means that they could enable the Screenshot Reader to provide audio playback for the maths during the exam. The student’s Equatio toolbar could be limited to just the screenshot reader feature for the duration of their assessment.

Please note: advance approval to use Equatio as an exam accommodation is now required. You can apply for this via Access Arrangements Online.

Who can use Equatio as a computer reader in exams

Equatio can be used as an “access arrangement” or “reasonable adjustment”. This allows candidates with special educational needs, disabilities or temporary injuries to access the assessment without changing the exam, or compromising the integrity of the assessment. Access arrangements are pre-examination adjustments for candidates. These adjustments are based on evidence of needs and must be a student’s normal way of working.

Where can Equatio be used as a computer reader?

Equatio can be used as a computer reader in paper based exams, in line with JCQ Access Arrangements (including those where digital copies, for example PDFs, are made available).

Are you ready to find out more about Equatio?

If you have any questions about using Equatio in Exam Mode, or you’d like to see it in action or you’d like to talk to one of our Texthelpers about licensing options, then please complete this form.

Why do we need this detail?

The information you provide in this form will help us to direct you to the right person. It means we’ll be able to reply to you faster. We also ask if you’re interested in any other products because we often have multi-product discounts available.

When can you expect to hear from us?

We try to respond to you within 24 hours (max). Sometimes that isn’t always possible (over the weekend for example). But we’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

How to set up Equatio for exam mode

1. Click on the blue Equatio menu button in the lower left corner of the toolbar. Then select the ‘Options’ button.

2. Once the ‘Options’ box opens, type on your keyboard the word ‘adminsettings’. You will then see an ‘Admin Settings’ menu option appear. You can also use the hotkeys ‘Ctrl + Shift + Q’ on your Windows or Mac device to view the Admin Settings menu.

3. You’ll be prompted to enter a password, and to confirm. Then select OK.

Please note: you will need the same password to turn off Exam Mode later.

4. By default all features will be toggled to the off position with the exception of the Screenshot Reader. If there are other features you wish to allow during the exam, please toggle them on at this time. When ready, select the ‘Use Exam Mode now’ toggle button. You are now ready for the student to use the specified features on the toolbar for the exam.

5. To exit Exam Mode, click on the Equatio menu, select ‘Options’ & type in 'adminsettings' or use the hotkeys to display admin settings. Retype in the admin password you set earlier and choose OK.

6. Finally, turn the Use Exam Mode now toggle to the off position, and your toolbar will return to its original state.

This short video will walk you through the process of setting up Equatio’s Exam Mode: