Helping Dyslexic Students Face Exams with Confidence

The new “tougher” English GCSE is a source of stress for many. For the one in ten dyslexic students and their parents, it’s even harder to face. But what support is available?    

The government said it would “restore rigour and confidence to our examination system” by reforming GCSES. The changes made included:

  • scrapping marks for teacher-assessed speaking and listening exercises and making final exams worth 60% of the overall mark (instead of 40%)
  • reducing the opportunities for retakes
  • placing greater emphasis on spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Difficulties for dyslexic students

The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) was quick to condemn these changes, saying they could make it more difficult for dyslexic candidates to demonstrate their ability.

The association’s chief executive, Kate Saunders, said: “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.”

Access Arrangements for dyslexic students

Dyslexic candidates facing upcoming GCSE exams need to apply for Access Arrangements by February, although it’s best to apply early.

Access arrangements for candidates with dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties may include:

  • extra time
  • a reader
  • an oral language modifier
  • a scribe
  • being allowed to type answers on a computer
  • being allowed assistive software (e.g. screen reader/voice recognition)
  • exam papers on coloured paper in dyslexia-friendly fonts
  • hard copy tests instead of on-screen tests
  • supervised rest breaks
  • use of a separate room

The current access arrangements for GCSE and AS/A2 examinations are set out by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

Parents can also find published advice regarding access arrangements for examinations from the BDA and the charity Dyslexia Action.

Support from dyslexia specialists

Our dyslexia specialists can help to organise Access Arrangements and provide targeted support.

By practising, practising and then practising some more as part of a supportive structured programme, our 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 to help prepare and face SATs, GCSEs, AS Levels and A Levels.

Multi-sensory teaching strategies

Our tutors who specialise in dyslexia support 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, but taken at the pupil’s own pace with space for as many questions as needed.

The necessary knowledge and skills can then be built gradually and logically, then consolidated to aid the automatic processing of information needed in exams.

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

Tried and tested techniques

Home-School Tutoring’s Margaret Sweetland says: “Our dyslexia specialists use tried and tested systematic teaching methods to help dyslexic students to learn their subjects’ syllabuses. This helps dyslexic students access and organise information under exam conditions.”

Home-School Tutoring has provided quality home tuition for over 30 years. A rigorous registration procedure ensures tutors are qualified and committed to delivering patient and effective tuition. Certificates of qualifications are verified, references are obtained, and an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check is made for all tutors on our registers.

Contact your Area Advisor to find out about tutors in your area

Home-School Tutoring’s Area Advisors are available to provide advice to parents and can match pupils with local dyslexia specialist tutors.

Parents can find contact details for their local Area Advisor on our Locations page.

Home-School Tutoring is also currently inviting applications from dyslexia specialists interested in joining Home-School Tutoring. We are ALWAYS interested in hearing from tutors who can offer this speciality and experience. Please see Become a Tutor for details.