Support with exams and coursework

Some young people with epilepsy may be entitled to support with exams and coursework.

A young boy preparing for Exams

There are two types of support available:

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.

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

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

Scottish Qualifications Authority (for Scottish Highers and other SQA qualifications)

Special consideration

Special consideration means the exam board adjusting 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 calculate 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 eligible for 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)

Published: September 2020
Last modified: July 2023
To be reviewed: September 2023
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