Support with exams and coursework

Exams can be stressful for every student, but especially for students with disabilities or special educational needs.

There is support available for people with special educational needs to help them take part in exams fairly.

A young boy preparing for Exams

This page outlines what support some young people with epilepsy may be entitled to for exams and coursework. Some of this support is a legal requirement. There are two types of support available:

  • Access arrangements
  • Special consideration

Access arrangements

Access arrangements are things the school or college puts in place to help your child during exams. They include things like:

  • Having supervised rest breaks during the exam
  • Having extra time to complete the exam
  • Taking the exam at a different time of day (for example if your child usually has seizures in the morning, they might be able to take their exams in the afternoon)
  • Taking the exam in a different place, such as a separate room, at home or in hospital

If you think your child needs extra support with their exams, talk to the person in charge of special educational needs at their school. It’s worth doing this as early as possible because it can take time to get access arrangements in place.

The school might need to get permission to make access arrangements. There are official deadlines the school needs to meet when applying for access arrangements. But if your child is diagnosed after these deadlines, or their epilepsy gets worse, the school can still make a late application.

Your child is much more likely to get access arrangements for exams if the school can show it’s your child’s ‘normal way of working.’ For example, if your child normally gets extra time to do timed assessments in class, it’s likely they would also be allowed extra time in exams.

Some students with epilepsy may also have memory problems which cause issues with revising and recalling information. Speak to teachers or the pastoral team at school about what support might be available.

You can get more information about access arrangements from the following organisations:

  • Standards and Testing Agency

Guidance for schools for key stage 1 (KS1) national curriculum tests

Guidance for schools for key stage 2 (KS2) national curriculum tests)

Special consideration

Special consideration is when the exam board adjusts your child’s mark after an exam. It could happen if:

  • Your child is fully prepared for the exam, but their performance is affected on the day due to illness or something beyond their control. For example, if they are recovering from a recent seizure or have a seizure during the exam
  • Your child has to miss an exam for a valid reason. For example, they are too unwell to attend after a seizure

If your child’s performance is affected at the time of an exam, the exam board may increase their mark by a small percentage.

If your child has to miss an exam, the exam board may calculate a mark for them. They will take into account your child’s performance in the rest of the course to work out the mark.  This includes coursework and other exams your child has completed in that subject.

If you think your child may be eligible for special consideration, speak to the exams officer at the school. They can make an application to the relevant exam board.


Special consideration for coursework

If your child is likely to miss a deadline for submitting coursework because of a seizure or illness, they may be able to have an extension of up to 10 days. In some cases, the exam board may accept a reduced quantity of coursework.

You can get more information about special considerations from:

The Joint Council of Qualifications (covers most qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales including GCSEs and A levels)

Exceptional Circumstances Service (for Scottish Highers and other SQA qualifications)

This information has been produced under the terms of the PIF TICK. The PIF TICK is the UK-wide Quality Mark for Health Information. Please contact if you would like a reference list for this information.
Published: March 2024
Last modified: April 2024
To be reviewed: March 2027
Tracking: L018.04 (previously F143)
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