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An allowance of extra time in examinations is one of the special arrangements that can be awarded by examination boards, if the candidate meets certain criteria.

Extra time could be used to:

  • remove the disadvantage caused by a slow reading speed.
  • re-read texts and questions to aid understanding.
  • help formulate and plan answers.
  • remove the disadvantage of a slow handwriting speed.
  • proof read work, checking for punctuation and spelling errors.

How to tackle an exam paper

Timing and technique can be improved with practice – working through copies of previous papers is a useful revision activity.

Subject teachers will be able to give precise instructions but here are some general guidelines for tackling an exam paper.

  • Read the paper to get a general gist of it.
  • Read the paper again, including instructions and check how many questions have to be answered.
  • Decide which questions are going to be answered and mark them
  • Check the wording of the questions very carefully – what type of answer are they asking for?
  • Jot down a timetable of how long to spend on each question. Never spend too long on one question, note carefully the marks awarded for each question or part of a question and allocate time and effort accordingly.
  • Underline keywords in the question and answer that question. Remember to plan your answer.
  • Begin with the easiest question or favourite topic, this will help boost confidence. Questions do not have to be answered in a particular order as long as they are numbered carefully.
  • Write legibly. Remember to use paragraphs. When writing an essay it may be useful to leave a space between each line, this allows room to put in a corrected spelling or missing word when proof reading.
  • Proof read the whole paper for punctuation, omissions, spellings and consistent use of tense.

(Based on an article in ‘How to Detect and Manage Dyslexia’ by P. Ott)

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