Helping Dyslexic Students Face Exams with Confidence

The government is planning to “restore rigour and confidence to our examination system” by returning to end-of-year GCSE exams with fewer opportunities for retakes and greater emphasis on spelling, punctuation and grammar – but what does this mean for the one in ten students in England with dyslexia?

The British Dyslexia Association has expressed concerns about the upcoming reforms to GCSEs, saying that they may make it more difficult for dyslexic candidates to demonstrate their ability, as specific learning difficulties can be exacerbated in the stress of a one-off examination.

The association’s chief executive, Kate Saunders, explains: “Dyslexia is most often characterised by a deficit in information processing and working memory, speed of working and difficulty accessing and recording written information.

“Dyslexic difficulties can be exacerbated in an examination context, due to stress. This can make it particularly difficult for dyslexic students to demonstrate their ability, knowledge and understanding through one-off, timed examinations.

The BDA will continue to lobby the government; however, the best advice for dyslexic candidates apprehensive about upcoming exams is likely to continue to be to combine an early application for access arrangements with structured and comprehensive exam preparation.

Access arrangements allow candidates/learners with special educational needs, disabilities or temporary injuries to access assessments and show what they know and can do without changing the demands of the assessment.

The current access arrangements for GCSE and AS/A2 examinations are set out by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) in regulations available via their website (www.jcq.org.uk). In addition, parents of children with dyslexia can find published advice regarding access arrangements for examinations from the charity Dyslexia Action (www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk).

Access arrangements for candidates with learning difficulties may include:

  • a computer reader or a reader
  • extra time
  • a word processor
  • a scribe
  • a prompter
  • a practical assistant
  • coloured overlays
  • coloured/enlarged papers
  • papers with modified language.

Dyslexic specialists can help to organise suitable access arrangements and provide dyslexic students with invaluable targeted support. By practising, practising and then practising some more as part of a supportive structured programme dyslexic students are able to dramatically improve their chances of success.

Home-School Tutoring’s dyslexia specialists can provide students with guided learning, revision and exam practice that can help students to prepare and face SAT, GCSE, AS and A2 exams with confidence.

Our tutors who specialise in dyslexia , understand that students with dyslexia benefit from multi-sensory teaching techniques that use all the available pathways in the brain to help assimilate information.

Private tutoring sessions  are planned so that learning can be systematic and the necessary knowledge and skills can be built gradually and logically, and then consolidated to aid the automatic processing of information that is needed in exams.

Our home tutors will also work with student to develop the problem solving and critical thinking skills that are tested by exams.

Margaret Sweetland, the UK Proprietor of Home-School Tutoring, says: “Our dyslexia specialists use tried and tested systematic teaching methods to help dyslexic students to learn their subjects’ syllabuses and then access and organise the necessary information under exam conditions.”

Home-School Tutoring has provided quality home tuition for over 25 years. A rigorous registration procedure ensures that all tutors are suitably qualified and committed to delivering attentive and effective tuition. Certificates of qualifications are verified, references are obtained, and an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check is made to verify the suitability of all Tutors on our registers.

Home-School Tutoring’s Area Advisors are available to provide free advice to their local parents considering home tutoring, and can match pupils with the tutor best suited to their needs.

Parents can find contact details for their local Area Advisor using the Tutor Search facility.

Home-School Tutoring is also currently inviting applications from dyslexia specialists interested in joining Home-School Tutoring. We ALWAYS need more tutors who can offer this speciality and experience – do join us. See Become a Tutor for details.