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Special

Requirements

Instructions and guidance when applying for


Special Arrangements and Special Consideration

Last updated March 2015

Contact us

Please contact the Exams Processing Unit (Special Circumstances) if you have any queries about applications for
Special Arrangements or Special Considerations.

Exams Processing Unit (Special Requirements)


Email: scu@cambridgeenglish.org

Helpdesk
Please see the support website:
support.cambridgeenglish.org
This website answers many frequently asked questions, includes information and updates, and contains
instructions and information on running our exams. You can also use it to contact our Helpdesk by submitting a
query or instant messaging with a Helpdesk Analyst.
You can also reach the Helpdesk at:
Email: helpdesk@cambridgeenglish.org
Tel: +44 1223 553997 (for urgent queries)

Postal address
Cambridge Assessment DC10
Hill Farm Road
Whittlesford
Cambridge CB22 4FZ
United Kingdom
When contacting us, always include your centre number in the subject line. This will speed up the processing of
your query.

Contents

1 Introduction

Special Consideration
2.1
Reasons to apply for Special Consideration
2.2 How to apply for Special Consideration
2.3 Confirmation of application 
2.4 What Special Consideration will be given? 

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3
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Special Arrangements
3.1
Identifying candidates who require Special Arrangements
3.2 Deadlines for Special Arrangements applications and how to apply
3.3 Medical evidence in support of requests for Special Arrangements

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Special Arrangements provisions


4.1
Additional time and/or supervised breaks
4.2 Modified question papers
4.3 Modified versions of the Listening component
4.4 Modified Speaking tests
4.5 Dummy partners (except Skills for Life)
4.6 Exemptions and certificate endorsements 
4.7 The writing of answers
4.8 Regulations for support workers

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Returning Special Arrangements candidates answers 

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Regulations for the use of computers/word processors and other forms of access technology 
6.1 Introduction
6.2 General principles 
6.3 Application for provision 
6.4 Code of practice and procedures 
6.5 Responsibilities of the centre

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Regulations for the use of a Reader 


7.1
General principles
7.2 Code of practice 
7.3 Responsibilities of a Reader 

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Regulations for help with writing answers 


8.1
General principles 
8.2 Code of practice 

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Regulations for the production of a transcript


9.1
General principles
9.2 Applications
9.3 Code of practice

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Appendix 1 Access technology checklist

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CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

1 Introduction
Throughout this booklet, You means the centre and/or the Centre Exams Manager on behalf of the centre or
any supervisor or invigilator who needs to carry out these tasks. As required in your Centre Agreement, you are
responsible for and must ensure these and any other instructions from Cambridge English Language Assessment
are followed.
The regulations in this booklet are for the following Cambridge English exams (paper-based and computer-based
where relevant):
Cambridge English: Young Learners (YLE)

Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)

Cambridge English: Key (KET)

Cambridge English: Business Certificates (BEC)

Cambridge English: Key (KET) for Schools

Cambridge English: Financial (ICFE)

Cambridge English: Preliminary (PET)

Cambridge English: Legal (ILEC)

Cambridge English: Preliminary (PET) for Schools

TKT

Cambridge English: First (FCE)

Delta Module One

Cambridge English: First (FCE) for Schools

Certificates in ESOL Skills for Life (Skills for Life)

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)


To save space, they are referred to throughout this document by their abbreviations.
For running exams on the day, please refer to the relevant Exam Day Booklet. There are also supplementary
instructions sent with Listening materials (Supervisors Booklet), a support booklet for Speaking tests and in email
communications, which will be sent to you at the relevant time.
Key
Some items in this booklet are specific to certain exams and these are highlighted by the use of symbols:
these regulations are only relevant to computer-based exams
these regulations are only relevant to Skills for Life exams (UK only)
A number of provisions are available to ensure that candidates who have special requirements can demonstrate
their ability in English. This booklet contains details about these provisions and how to apply for them.
There are two main categories:
Special Arrangements are provisions for candidates who have a permanent or long-term disability, such
as a visual or hearing difficulty, or a temporary disability such as a broken arm. Applications for Special
Arrangements are made before the candidate sits the exam, using a Special Arrangements form for the relevant
exam, which is available on our support website. Please see Section 3.2 for more information about how and
when to apply.
Special Consideration can be requested for candidates who cannot perform to the best of their ability due
to adverse circumstances immediately before or during an exam. Examples include illness, bereavement or
circumstances affecting the conditions under which an exam is taken. Special Consideration may also be
appropriate for candidates who were temporarily or permanently disabled at the time of the exam but for
whom Special Arrangements were not in place or were not adequate or satisfactory. Special Consideration is
applied for after the candidate sits the exam using the Special Consideration form, available from the support
website.

CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

An example to clarify the distinction between Special Arrangements and Special Consideration is that of a
candidate with a broken arm, for whom Special Arrangements (for example, extra time and/or arranging for help
with writing their answers) should be made before the exam. If, on the day of the exam, the candidate is still in
pain or shock following the accident which resulted in the broken arm, an application for Special Consideration
must also be made after the exam.
In the case of permanent or long-term disabilities and temporary disabilities like injuries which you only become
aware of shortly before an exam, contact the Exams Processing Unit (Special Circumstances) at the earliest
opportunity for authorisation to make emergency Special Arrangements.
If this is not possible, you can use your discretion to make appropriate arrangements (following the provisions
and regulations outlined in Section 2) to alleviate the problems. Submit a report detailing the circumstances to
the Exams Processing Unit (Special Circumstances) immediately after the exam, indicating clearly why it was
necessary to make emergency Special Arrangements without prior authorisation.
In some cases where you are made aware of a special requirement on the day of the exam, you can accommodate
the candidates request without seeking authorisation, or subsequently advising the Exams Processing Unit
(Special Circumstances). For example a candidate who has a hearing difficulty requests a seat at the front of the
room.

2 Special Consideration
2.1 Reasons to apply for Special Consideration
There are many reasons why you might wish to apply for Special Consideration for a candidate or group of
candidates. Here are some examples of acceptable and unacceptable reasons. These lists are not intended to be
comprehensive.
Examples of acceptable reasons:
Illness during or immediately preceding the exam.
Distress owing to factors like the death of a close friend or relative, acute family/domestic problems, etc.,
immediately preceding the exam.
Suffering from shock (e.g. owing to a road accident).
Unforeseen problems with sound equipment (where all affected candidates are given Special Consideration).
Inappropriate or inadequate Special Arrangements for candidates with permanent disabilities, where it can be
shown that there are good reasons why Special Arrangements are not in place or are inadequate.
Serious disturbance during an exam (where all affected candidates are given Special Consideration).
Part-absence due to an illness or injury, unavoidable transport failures, death or funeral of a relative or close
friend, requirement to attend a hospital or law court, or other circumstances completely outside the control
of the candidate. If a candidate is part-absent from an exam for an acceptable reason you have the following
options:
1. If a candidate has missed their Speaking test, it may be possible for the candidate to be examined on
another occasion within the window. Note that in the case of Speaking tests where the standard format
requires candidates to take the test with another candidate, if all the other candidates at the centre have
been examined already, the candidate might need to transfer to a nearby centre. If this is not possible, the
centre must apply to Cambridge English Language Assessment as soon as possible for authorisation for
the test to be conducted with a dummy partner. See Section 4.5 for regulations on dummy partners.

CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

2. If the Speaking window is at an end, you can ask Cambridge English Language Assessment to extend the
window for a short period in the first instance by submitting a Timetable Deviation form, available from
the support site. If this matter cannot be resolved by extending the window, you should ask Cambridge
English Language Assessment to consider the award of a grade without the Speaking marks, based on the
candidates performance in the other papers.
3. Please note that in the case of YLE candidates, it is not possible to award a grade if a candidate misses a
component. Your centre will not be charged for YLE candidates who do not attend all parts of the test.
4. If a candidate misses a Listening test and you are running a Listening test back-to-back, it might be
possible to include them in a subsequent group.
5. If a candidate has missed only one component for medical or compassionate reasons, please contact the
Exams Processing Unit (Special Circumstances) as soon as possible to discuss your candidates options.
6. If a candidate has missed more than one component for medical or compassionate reasons, you can
ask for a refund for the candidate. Please see Section 2.12 of the 2015 Handbook for centres for further
information.
Examples of unacceptable reasons:
Unfavourable exam conditions which could be foreseen. It is your responsibility to ensure that your candidates
are examined under suitable conditions.
Minor disturbances, except when occurring in Listening tests. You are permitted to use discretion when
the immediate remedy of allowing an appropriate period of extra time to compensate for time lost will offer
sufficient alleviation of the difficulty. In all such cases, submit a Special Consideration Form to Cambridge
English Language Assessment containing a full written report of the action taken, which clearly indicates that
the report is for information only.
Indispositions like hay fever which are variable in their effect, except where the candidate was clearly affected
on the day of an exam.
Where the candidate has been allowed Special Arrangements for a permanent disability unless these were not
satisfactory or adequate.
Claims that a candidates attainment has been affected by disruption or indisposition during the course of
study prior to the exam.
Part-absence due to misreading or misunderstanding the exam timetable, oversleeping, holidays, moving
home, social, family or sporting commitments.
Please remind your supervisors and invigilators to take into consideration whether adverse circumstances affect
all the candidates in the room, a range of candidates in an area, or a single candidate. In particular, please do not
make applications for only those candidates who have complained if it is clear that others (or all candidates) in
the room might have been affected.
2.2 How to apply for Special Consideration
You must only apply for Special Consideration if you support the application unreservedly. Cambridge English
Language Assessment cannot accept requests directly from schools or candidates.
You must fill out the Special Consideration form available from the support website.
For paper-based exams, submit the application within one week of the exam day. For computer-based exams,
submit within one day of the exam day. Applications received after this deadline will be rejected.

CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

The application must be supported by a medical certificate if it is due to injury which the centre is unable to verify,
and in all cases of candidate illness.
Cambridge English Language Assessment will not consider applications for Special Consideration after the
issue of results under any circumstances.

2.3 Confirmation of application


Cambridge English Language Assessment will acknowledge receipt of applications for Special Consideration.
If the candidate is given Special Consideration there will be no further notification.
We will contact you if an application for Special Consideration is not accepted. You must inform your
candidates and preparation centres of the decision as you would have submitted the application on their
behalf.

2.4 What Special Consideration will be given?


We will review the evidence to see if the circumstances reported have impacted negatively on the candidates
performance: if we believe that there has been a negative impact, we will adjust the candidates marks
appropriately in accordance with guidelines provided for awarding bodies. The maximum additional marks
that can be applied are 5% of the component mark. Cambridge English Language Assessment, in line with
other awarding bodies, will not enter into discussion with candidates or their parents as to how much special
consideration should be applied.

3 Special Arrangements
3.1 Identifying candidates who require Special Arrangements
We will make suitable arrangements wherever possible to help candidates with special requirements:
to understand questions and tasks
to write their answers and to demonstrate their English to the best of their ability.
You must ensure that you have systems in place to identify at an early stage any candidates who will need Special
Arrangements, particularly those involving the need for modified material or use of access (assistive) technology.
Please make your preparation centres aware that any candidates with special requirements must be identified
early, so that you can give us enough notice.
You must consider what might be the most appropriate arrangements for each individual candidate. Submit an
application as soon as possible using the appropriate Special Arrangements form (see 3.2 below). We will try to
reach agreement with you as to the most appropriate exam provision(s) in each individual case.
The provisions are intended:
to remove, as far as possible, the effects of the disability on the candidates ability to demonstrate their true
level of attainment in relation to the assessment objectives. We cannot compensate candidates for lack of
attainment caused by their disabilities.
to ensure that the Special Arrangements do not give candidates with disabilities an unfair advantage over
other candidates. Candidates with disabilities will not usually be permitted provisions which would enable
them to circumvent the assessment objectives.
to avoid misleading the user of the certificate about the candidates attainment.

CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

Except in an emergency (see Section 4), no Special Arrangements for candidates with permanent disabilities may
be made unless prior approval has been given by Cambridge English Language Assessment.
Special Arrangements for candidates taking computer-based exams currently consist of certain administrative
arrangements, such as extra time for a particular exam and separate invigilation. Any requirements must be
submitted to the Exams Processing Unit (Special Circumstances) using the Special Arrangements form for CBT,
available from the support website.
Any candidate whose Special Arrangements cannot be accommodated within a computer-based exam must be
offered the modified paper-based exam as an alternative.
3.2 Deadlines for Special Arrangements applications and how to apply
All applications for Special Arrangements must be submitted to the Exams Processing Unit (Special
Cicrcumstances) on the relevant Special Arrangements form. Detailed advice on the completion and submission of
the application is on the form, available from the support website.
We recommend that you contact the Exams Processing Unit (Special Circumstances) before submitting the
application if you have any doubts about what the candidate will require.
Applications will not normally be accepted without supporting medical evidence from an appropriately qualified
medical practitioner.
Please note that delays caused by incomplete or unclear applications which are still unresolved by the closing date
for entries might make it impossible to authorise applications or despatch modified materials in time.
Administrative Special Arrangements
(e.g. extra time, using someone to help write answers, use of access technology)
All applications must be received by the Exams Processing Unit (Special Circumstances) by the closing date for
entries for the exam in question.
Applications for modified material
See the list of modified material on www.cambridgeenglish.org (search for modified materials) for details.
Applications for this material must be submitted by the closing date for entries for the exam in question.
Applications for any other modified materials must be submitted on the appropriate Special Arrangements form at
least three months before the exam date.
Applications for emergency Special Arrangements
If a candidate requires Special Arrangements for a reason which was not known about before the closing date
for entries (e.g. a broken arm, or an ear infection affecting the candidates hearing), it might still be possible to
put Special Arrangements in place. Please contact the Exams Processing Unit (Special Requirements) as soon as
possible.
For Speaking tests, where you are only advised on the day of the exam that a candidate has a hearing or speech
difficulty, for example, which could disadvantage a partner, you must get authorisation for a dummy partner
from the Exams Processing Unit (Special Circumstances) as soon as possible. If it is not possible to contact the
Exams Processing Unit (Special Circumstances), contact your local Professional Support Leader or Regional Team
Leader. See Section 4.5 for regulations on using dummy partners.

CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

3.3 Medical evidence in support of requests for Special Arrangements


It is a requirement that Centre Exams Managers unreservedly support all requests for Special Arrangements.
Unless it is obvious that a candidate has a disability requiring Special Arrangements (e.g. a candidate who is
blind), all applications must be supported by medical evidence.
It is difficult to be prescriptive about what constitutes acceptable medical evidence as the local context can vary
and this can affect what is considered the norm. However, you must check the original medical certificate and
endorse it. You must then make a copy of the certificate and send it to Cambridge English Language Assessment
with the application. The following guidance may be useful in helping you to decide whether to endorse it:
It must be legible and written either in English or a language supplied with a translation authorised by you.
It must give a clear statement of the candidates disability and make it clear how the disability justifies the
Special Arrangements requested.
It must be an original document on headed paper or with an official stamp and bearing the name, relevant
qualification(s) and signature of a recognised medical practitioner.
In the case of applications for Special Arrangements from candidates with specific learning difficulties (e.g.
dyslexia) additional criteria apply:
It must be in the form of a report prepared when the candidate was aged 13 or older.
It must include details of the degree of disability.
It must include an assurance that the evidence of specific learning difficulties was obtained through the
results of appropriate and recognised tests, and the tests used must be stated. The most universally
applied tests are the battery of Wechsler tests, although other equally acceptable tests may be standard in
some countries.
The report must be provided by a fully qualified educational, clinical or chartered psychologist, or other
appropriately-qualified specialist assessor.
Other acceptable medical evidence might be considered; please contact the Exams Processing Unit (Special
Circumstances) for advice.
We will keep a record of medical evidence for Skills for Life and TKT candidates requiring Special Arrangements
for one year from the time it is submitted. If a candidate takes more than one mode or module within that year,
you will not be required to re-submit the medical evidence.

4 Special Arrangements provisions


There are a number of different types of arrangement see below for a list.
Please note that, except in an emergency (see Section 1), authorisation for the provision of these Special
Arrangements must be obtained from the Exams Processing Unit (Special Circumstances) before the exam.

4.1 Additional time and/or supervised breaks


Candidates might require extra time to read their papers and/or write their answers, for example, candidates who
have dyslexia, visual difficulties or physical difficulties that impair their writing (such as cerebral palsy).
Additional time up to 25% of the prescribed duration of an exam session will meet the needs of most candidates,
but you can recommend a greater allowance in accordance with your knowledge of the candidates requirements.
Blind candidates will often need 100% extra time. The recommendation for the amount of extra time required
must be specified on the application form.

CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

Please note that there are separate measures listed in Sections 4.3 and 4.4 for providing candidates with extra
time in Listening or Speaking tests.
For some candidates, supervised breaks might be appropriate instead of, or in addition to, the extra time
allowance. An example would be a candidate who has difficulty concentrating for long periods of time, or one who
has repetitive strain injury in the writing hand.
4.2 Modified question papers
Candidates might require modified papers if they have visual, hearing or other physical or specific learning
difficulties (see Sections 4.7 and 8 for more information on how candidates using modified papers can write or
otherwise record their answers).
We can modify most question papers. In doing so, we might seek the help of such nationally recognised
organisations as the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and the British Association of Teachers of the
Deaf (BATOD).
Braille versions of question papers are available on request for most exams. For the YLE exams, Braille versions are
currently only available for YLE Movers and Flyers. If a candidate is partially sighted, they may benefit from using
someone to help them read and write their answers. Please refer to Sections 7 and 8.
There are two kinds or grades of Braille uncontracted (or grade 1) comprising one cell of up to six dots for every
letter, and contracted (or grade 2) where one cell represents whole words or common clusters of letters.
Example

- ed (uncontracted)

- ed (contracted)
Centres need to specify which type of Braille a candidate requires when applying for Braille papers, so the correct
type can be supplied.
It is your responsibility to arrange for the transcribing of the brailled answers. See Section 9 for further
information.
Modified Large Print question papers for most exams are also available on request for use by visually impaired
candidates and candidates with other special requirements. Question papers are adapted, taking out any visual
material which is not needed for answering the question for example, frames around texts. A uniform font size is
used (18 pt Arial bold) (as shown below):

examination
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CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

4.3 Modified versions of the Listening component


A Special Requirements (SR) version of the Listening test is produced. This version is accompanied by a
Supervisors Booklet which contains the listening script with instructions for supervisors on when to pause the CD
to allow candidates to read the questions and to record and check their answers. The length of pauses is at the
discretion of the supervisor. In this way additional time is built into the test according to the candidates needs.
All candidates requiring extra time in a Listening component must apply for a Special Requirements version of the
relevant Listening test, including those with:
visual difficulties
difficulties in writing answers while listening to a recording as a result of, for example, cerebral palsy or
dyslexia
dysgraphia or a broken arm.
Arrangements for candidates with hearing difficulties
The most appropriate arrangements for candidates with hearing difficulties will vary according to the severity of
the hearing loss.
For some candidates, the use of special amplification through headphones or other technical aids might be
sufficient. You can arrange this without having to submit an application. Note that the use of personal CD players
is not permitted.
For some candidates the special version of the Listening test, for which the supervisor is given instructions on
when to pause the CD with or without the use of headphones, might be sufficient. This should allow the candidate
time to assimilate what they have heard.
If the impairment is more severe, and the candidate can lip-read in English, a lip-reading version of the Listening
test can usually be supplied. The accompanying Supervisors Booklet contains instructions on how to conduct a
lip-reading test.
For KET, KET for Schools, PET and PET for Schools two supervisors are required to conduct the lip-reading version
of the Listening test.
Note that the lip-reading version of the Listening test must only be taken by candidates who are able to lip-read
in English and whose level of hearing impairment prevents them from taking a test delivered via a CD. Where the
impairment is so severe that none of the above would be sufficient, see Section 4.6.
Hearing-impaired candidates with severe hearing impairment can also apply for extra time for reading and writing
tests, for example when the candidate requires additional time to process what they are reading.
Arrangements for candidates with visual difficulties
Candidates with visual difficulties can be supplied tests in Braille or in enlarged print, together with the Special
Requirements version of the Listening CD.
Arrangements for candidates with writing difficulties
The Special Requirements version of the Listening test (see above) might also be appropriate for candidates who
are unable to write as they listen, for example because of cerebral palsy, dyslexia, dysgraphia or a broken arm, and
therefore need extra time.
For Section 4.3, you will need to provide separate rooms, equipment and invigilation.

CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

4.4 Modified Speaking tests


Candidates might need to take the test in a modified format and/or require modified material if they have severe
hearing, speaking, visual, or other specific learning difficulties.
It is expected that candidates with hearing or speaking difficulties will attempt the Speaking test where it is
possible for them to demonstrate their true level of achievement in relation to the assessment objectives (see
Section 4.6 where this is not the case).
The format of the Speaking test
For most Speaking tests the standard format involves candidates working with a partner. If the severity of a
candidates difficulty is such that either the candidate or their partner could be disadvantaged by this standard
format, the centre must apply for the candidate to take the test with a dummy partner. See Section 4.5.
Alternatively, some exams have a special single candidate format version of the test. You can request this special
version for FCE, FCE for Schools, CAE, CPE, KET, KET for Schools, PET and PET for Schools.
Where a Speaking Examiner has not been notified in advance that a candidate has special requirements, the
examiner must refer to the Instructions to Speaking Examiners booklet.
Modified material
For blind candidates, contexts and stimuli are provided as written prompts in Braille. Candidates who are partially
sighted are supplied with enlarged visual material or enlarged print written prompts. Blind and visually impaired
candidates can also apply for a special single candidate format version of the test, which is available on the
relevant Special Arrangements form, available from the support website.
For hearing-impaired candidates and candidates with speaking difficulties, the standard Speaking test materials,
which consist of visual stimuli, e.g. photographs, and text as appropriate, are used. Hearing-impaired candidates
and candidates with speaking difficulties can also apply for a special single candidate format version of the test,
which is available on the relevant Special Arrangements form.
Prisons and other secure zones
Sometimes the exam might be conducted in a prison, closed religious order, secure military zone or other
restricted setting.
In most cases, these Speaking tests will be conducted by a single examiner taking the role of both the interlocutor
and assessor. Where necessary, centres can apply for a single candidate format version of the test, using
the Special Arrangements form, and are responsible for contacting the Speaking Examiner directly to make the
necessary arrangements.
Please note that Speaking Examiners and Skills for Life Speaking & Listening Assessors need to arrive in good time
in advance of the test in order to familiarise themselves with the material.
Interlocutors must check the CD before the test in secure conditions and practise pausing the CD as indicated.

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CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

4.5 Dummy partners (except Skills for Life)


Before you apply for authorisation, please note that a dummy partner must be:
a learner whose age and level of English is appropriate to the relevant exam
familiar with the format of the Speaking test.
They might have already taken the Speaking test in the same session. In this case, they must be given a different
test pack, and it must be made clear that their performance in the second test will not be assessed and that their
mark for the first test will not be affected in any way. A candidate still waiting to take the test must not be used as
a dummy partner.
The Speaking Examiner must complete the mark sheet for the real candidate and must enter 9999 as the second
candidates number. No OMR must be created for the dummy partner and the dummy must not be added to the
attendance register.
You can apply for Special Consideration if the candidate has been disadvantaged by the use of a dummy partner,
or if you were not given advance notice of the candidates special requirements and Special Arrangements were
inadequate.
For regulations on the use of dummy partners for Skills for Life exams, please see the Skills for Life Exam Day
Booklet.

4.6 Exemptions and certificate endorsements


Exemptions
Speaking and/or Listening components exemption
In cases of severe disability affecting speaking or hearing for candidates taking KET, KET for Schools, PET, PET for
Schools, FCE, CAE, CPE, BEC, ILEC or ICFE, Cambridge English Language Assessment may consider applications
for candidates to be exempted from either the Speaking or the Listening component, or both Speaking and
Listening components.
When such exemptions are permitted and the candidate obtains a passing grade, an endorsement will be made
on the certificate.
Reading components use of Readers
Usually, candidates should be able to read the question paper, but there can be exceptions, for example for those
with severe physical disabilities including those who are visually impaired but not proficient in Braille. In such
cases we will consider applications for:
a Reader to be authorised to read out the whole of the exam, including the reading texts of the Reading
component
or
the candidate to use appropriate types of access (assistive) technology (e.g. screen-reading software).
Note that if a Reader or screen-reading software is used to read out the texts of a Reading component, a
certificate endorsement will be required as these arrangements effectively change the Reading test to a Listening
test (see also Section 7.1).
Candidates with specific learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia, etc.) are not permitted to have a Reader or to use
screen-reading software except as a screen magnification tool.

CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

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Endorsements on certificates
Endorsements are added to certificates where some of the objectives of the relevant exam have not been
assessed on account of a particular disability of the candidate. Endorsements apply where a candidate has been
exempt from the Speaking and/or Listening components or where a Reader or screen-reading software has been
used in a reading test as described above. The endorsement is as follows.
The candidate was exempt from satisfying the full range of assessment objectives in the exam.
Endorsements are not added to certificates where Special Arrangements have been authorised which remove, as
far as possible, the effects of the disability on the candidates ability to demonstrate their true level of attainment
in relation to the assessment objectives (e.g. enlarged question papers for partially sighted candidates).
All applications for exemptions must be made in advance of the exam being taken; they cannot be applied for
retrospectively.
4.7 The writing of answers
When making Special Arrangements for candidates with special requirements, you should bear in mind any
special requirements that candidates might have to enable them to write their answers.
If answers are not written on the standard machine-scored sheets or in answer booklets, they should be provided
as a separate typed or clearly written list with centre and candidate details clearly marked on each sheet used,
and question numbers clearly identified (accompanied by the unused blank answer sheet if appropriate). If the
candidate wishes to write their answers on a separate sheet of paper, you must:
supply suitable sheets of blank paper (please consult with the candidate on preferred size, whether lining is
required, spacing between lines, etc.)
ensure that candidate details are written at the top of each sheet used (centre number, candidate name and
number)
tell the candidate to number their answers clearly on each sheet used.
Examples of how candidates with particular difficulties can write their answers are given below. Please contact the
Exams Processing Unit (Special Circumstances) for further advice if required.
1. Blind candidates can:
speak their answers to a person who writes them down for them (see Section 8).
use a Braille machine.
use a computer or word processor or other form of access (assistive) technology (see Section 6). Please
note that if a candidate produces their answers in Braille, it is the centres responsibility to provide a
transcript (see Section 9). Failure to do this can result in a delay in issuing the candidates results.
2. Partially sighted candidates can:
speak their answers to a person who writes them down for them (see Section 8).
use a computer or word processor or other forms of access (assistive) technology (see Section 6).
write their answers on a separate piece of paper (see paragraph 2 of this section).
3. Candidates with physical disabilities (e.g. those who with motor impairment such as cerebral palsy, etc.) can:
speak their answers to a person who writes them down for them (see Section 8).
use a computer or word processor, or other forms of access (assistive) technology (see Section 6).
write their answers on a separate piece of paper (see paragraph 2 of this section).

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Because Special Requirements Listening and Hearing Impaired tests sometimes have different task formats,
which do not correspond to the standard computer-read answer sheet, answers for candidates taking Special
Requirements versions of KET, KET for Schools, PET, PET for Schools, FCE, FCE for Schools, CAE and CPE
Listening tests must be written on a separate piece of paper, either by the candidate, or the person helping them
write their answers (if appropriate).
Candidates with dyslexia or other types of specific learning difficulties cannot have someone helping them write
their answers, and no candidate is permitted to use voice-recognition software.
The production of a transcript
In the case of candidates who prepare their exam answers in Braille, it is your responsibility to submit a transcript
of candidates answers (see Section 9). Some types of access technology (for example Braille keyboards) have the
facility to convert Braille input into printed text output and thus avoid the need for a transcript.

4.8 Regulations for support workers


Please note support workers are not normally allowed to accompany a candidate for any part of a Cambridge
English Language Assessment exam. They are only permitted to accompany the candidate as far as the test room
and must then wait outside until the test or component is finished. The candidate may then be reassured that the
support worker will be outside the room for the duration of the test or component. Permission for support workers
to accompany candidates into the exam room may be considered under exceptional circumstances.

5 Returning Special Arrangements candidates answers


If a candidate has had administrative Special Arrangements only (e.g. extra time in a standard test), there is no
change to standard procedure (see the Handbook for centres and the relevant Exam Day Booklet for details). If a
candidate has had modified materials, follow the procedure below:
Put the candidates answers for each component in a separate marked A4 envelope.
Remember to include original brailled answers, as well as transcripts.
Insert the envelope in candidate number order in the correct script return envelope.
Mark the outside of each script return envelope Candidate with Special Arrangements.
Return the script return envelopes (and any other materials, such as Supervisors Booklets and CDs and
question papers, including those in Braille) to us in the usual way.
Candidates must also be identified as Special Arrangements candidates on the attendance register. Failure to
follow these instructions can result in a delay in issuing the candidates results. These instructions are also given in
the relevant Exam Day Booklet.

6 Regulations for the use of computers/word processors and other forms of access
technology
6.1 Introduction
The provision for the use of a computer/word processor and other forms of access (assistive) technology is
restricted to candidates with a disability which prevents them from reading or writing by hand.
The use of the term computer in this document must be taken to include word processors, personal computers,
laptops, tablets and other microprocessor-controlled devices producing output in text or other forms such as
graphics and diagrams.

CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

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Access technology includes specialist equipment that has been designed for use by blind and partially sighted
people and those with physical disabilities.
Permission may be given for the following types of access technology to be used:
screen readers
electronic reading aids (scanners)
screen magnifiers
Braille displays
Braille note-takers
Braille keyboards
augmentative speech devices (except in Speaking tests)
assistive listening devices.
6.2 General principles
The object of Special Arrangements is to enable candidates with disabilities to demonstrate their true levels of
attainment in relation to the assessment objectives of a syllabus. This principle applies to the use of computers
and other forms of access technology in the same way as it does to other types of Special Arrangements.
It is the attainment of the candidate which must be assessed, and the use of the computer and other forms of
access technology must not create a misleading impression of that attainment or confer an unfair advantage over
other candidates.
Candidates who are able to produce work for assessment by handwriting must do so.
Candidates with disabilities might be permitted to produce their answers using a computer and other forms of
access technology in cases where the disability prevents them from presenting answers in the usual way.
6.3 Application for provision
When considering an application, we will need:
full details of the computer equipment and software requested for use by the candidates
an assurance that the spellcheck, grammar check and thesaurus functions will not be available.
We will wish to determine what effect, if any, the use of the equipment and software will have on its ability to
assess the candidate fairly in each subject. We reserve the right to seek independent advice concerning the
operation of computers and other forms of access technology to help determine what Special Arrangements
should be made. We also reserve the right to check the application of these arrangements during our inspections
visits.
6.4 Code of practice and procedures
A computer and other forms of access technology can only be used by the candidate who is the subject of the
provision and not by someone acting on the candidates behalf.
The candidate must be proficient in the use of the equipment and any relevant programs or software.
Operator manuals cannot be used in exams.
You must refer to the Access Technology Guide on the support website for guidance on procedures to be followed if
candidates with disabilities request authorisation to use computers and other forms of access technology.

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Your candidate must ensure that the computer or other form of access technology is working correctly at the time
of an exam.
You must ensure that candidates do not use facilities or access files which could give them an unfair
advantage. These include the spellcheck, grammar check and thesaurus functions.
Depending on individual circumstances, it might be necessary for each candidate to be accommodated in a
separate room with separate invigilation, so that one candidate does not disturb another.
The frequent saving of work is strongly recommended. Where available, an autosave facility can achieve this.
All work must be submitted as hard copy. The printing of answers can take place after the time allowed for
the exam has expired. The candidate must be present in order to verify that the printing is complete.
No copy of the candidates answers, in electronic format or hard copy, can be retained by the candidate or
centre after the end of the exam.
A copy of the Cambridge English Language Assessment authorisation for the use of a computer/word
processor or other form of access technology must be attached to the candidates answers, as well as a
completed Access Technology Checklist (see Appendix 1 and Access Technology Guide, page 23).
The use of voice recognition software is not permitted, but candidates, except for those with specific learning
difficulties, can apply to have someone to help them write their answers.
Normally, users of access technology will wish to use their own equipment, although occasionally centres
might have appropriate equipment available. If a candidate makes a request to use access technology which is
impractical for a centre to meet, it might be appropriate to refer the candidate to a nearby centre which would
be able to meet the request.
Depending on the type of equipment being used, you are authorised to scan in exam papers to computers, or
other devices, no more than two hours before the scheduled start of the component (morning or afternoon)
or to download electronic versions of question papers from the internet via a secure server no more than
two hours before the scheduled start of the first paper in a session. For both procedures, you must request
Modified Large Print versions of question papers. Papers supplied in this way are designed as screenreaderfriendly versions, but please note they can only be supplied as pdf files and not Word documents.
You must get permission in advance for each candidate and for each component where scanning in or
electronic versions are required.
Failure to follow the regulations given above might result in the disqualification of the candidate.

6.5 Responsibilities of the centre


Before the exam you must:
discuss with the Exams Processing Unit (Special Circumstances) the type of equipment/software the
candidate is requesting to use
make applications for Special Arrangements in good time. See Section 3.2 for information on deadlines.
ensure that equipment to be used is checked on or before the day of the exam
ensure that appropriate arrangements are made for invigilation, etc.
On the day of the exam you must:
check the candidates equipment
ensure that users are monitored and invigilated before, during and after an exam to ensure security of exam
material and to prevent malpractice

CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

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complete a detailed checklist which lists action to be taken before, during and after the exam. This must be
completed and returned to us with scripts, etc. See Appendix 1 on page 20.

7 Regulations for the use of a Reader


7.1 General principles
The use of a Reader is restricted to candidates with a disability which prevents them from reading specific types of
text themselves. In this context reading includes the use of Braille or with the aid of enlarged print.
Candidates who are able to read using modified question papers (i.e. brailled or modified large print versions) or
via access technology (e.g. screen magnifiers) must do so.
The object of Special Arrangements is to enable candidates with disabilities to demonstrate their true levels of
attainment in relation to the assessment objectives of a syllabus. This principle applies to the use of Readers in the
same way as it does to other types of Special Arrangement. It is the attainment of the candidate which must be
assessed and the use of a Reader must not:
create a misleading impression of that attainment
change the focus of the test
confer an unfair advantage over other candidates.
For these reasons, if a Reader or screen-reading software is used to read out the texts of a Reading component, a
certificate endorsement will be required, as these arrangements effectively change the Reading test to a Listening
test. See Section 4.6 for further details.
7.2 Code of practice
1. For Reading components, the Reader can read out and repeat instructions, questions and rubrics, but is not
usually permitted to read texts to candidates. See Section 7.1 above if a candidate asks to have the texts in
a Reading component read out. Note that a Reader is permitted to read out cloze passages (ie: texts with
numbered gaps inserted).
2. Candidates with visual impairments can have someone read to them and write down their answers.
3. Candidates with dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties cannot have a Reader.
4. Additional time can be permitted for the use of a Reader.
5. We will not usually agree to the candidates own teacher acting as a Reader although this might be
considered in exceptional circumstances.
6. We will not permit relatives of the candidate or other candidates at the centre to act as Readers.
7. A Reader must be a person who is able to read accurately and at a reasonable rate, and who must be familiar
with the task types and texts in Cambridge English exams.
8. A Reader is responsible to the Centre Exams Manager, and the person who is to act as the Reader must be
acceptable to the Centre Exams Manager and to Cambridge English Language Assessment.
9. You must ensure that candidates who are using a Reader are accommodated separately from other
candidates.
10. An invigilator must be present in addition to the Reader.
11. A candidate must, wherever possible, have adequate practice in the use of a Reader.

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7.3 Responsibilities of a Reader


During an exam, a Reader must:
read accurately and read only the rubrics and questions
not give factual help to the candidate, nor offer any suggestions
not advise the candidate regarding, for example, which questions to do, when to move on to the next question,
or the order in which the questions should be done
not offer the candidate any other kind of assistance, e.g. indirectly by using intonation
read, as often as requested, the questions and the answers which the candidate has already recorded
if asked, give information regarding time elapsed and remaining time
if asked, give the spelling of a word which occurs in the question paper; otherwise spellings must not be given
be prepared for periods of inactivity during an exam; help must be given only where it is requested
immediately refer any problems in communication during an exam to the invigilator. It might be necessary for
a report to be made to Cambridge English Language Assessment if the use of a Reader has been unsuccessful
for some reason.
Failure to follow the regulations given above might result in the disqualification of the candidate.

8 Regulations for help with writing answers


8.1 General principles
The provision of help with writing answers is restricted to candidates with a disability which prevents them from
writing. In this context writing includes the use of Braille, a typewriter or a word processor, or by means of other
forms of access technology.
This is regarded as an exceptional arrangement since all candidates should be able to write their own answers.
The object of Special Arrangements is to enable candidates with disabilities to demonstrate their true levels
of attainment in relation to the assessment objectives of a syllabus. This principle applies to help with writing
answers in the same way as it does to other types of Special Arrangement. It is the attainment of the candidate
which must be assessed, and using someone to help write their answers must not create a misleading impression
of that attainment or an unfair advantage over other candidates.

8.2 Code of practice


1. The candidate must dictate their answers clearly, indicating all punctuation and capital letters. The person
helping with writing answers (sometimes called an amanuensis or scribe) is required to ask candidates to
dictate the spelling of words which are less common, likely to cause confusion (e.g. those where there is a
similar but different word in the candidates first language) or homophones.
2. The person helping write answers must underline all words for which the spelling has been checked in this
way.
3. The person helping write answers must be a suitably qualified and experienced person, preferably a member
of the centres staff, and not the candidates teacher.
4. The person helping write answers cannot be a relative of the candidate or another student at the centre.
5. The person helping writing answers must be able to produce an accurate record of a candidates answers,
write legibly and at a reasonable speed and be familiar with the task types and texts in Cambridge English
exams.

CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

17

6. The same person can read to the candidate and write their answers at the same time.
7. Candidates with dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties cannot have someone helping them write
answers.
8. All dictation and writing must be completed within the time specified for the exam. However, if it is thought
necessary, extra time up to 25% of the allotted exam time is allowed by Cambridge English Language
Assessment. If this is insufficient the centre must recommend the amount of extra time needed.
9. Wherever possible, the candidate must be given the opportunity to practise with the person helping write
answers before the exam, ensuring that the candidate is confident about saying the letters of the alphabet
and the types of punctuation, so they can spell these out when required to do so.
10. The candidate must be accommodated in a separate room.
11. There must also be an invigilator present in the room.
12. The person helping write answers must not give factual help to the candidate nor offer any suggestions.
13. The person helping write answers must write down only what the candidate dictates. If they are unclear as to
the details of the candidates intended answer, they must ask for clarification.
Any problems in communication during an exam must be referred immediately to the invigilator.
It might be necessary to submit a Special Consideration form to Cambridge English Language Assessment if using a
person to help write answers has been unsuccessful for some reason.
Failure to follow the regulations above might result in disqualification of the candidate.

9 Regulations for the production of a transcript


9.1 General principles
The provision for the production of a transcript is restricted to candidates who prepare their exam answers in
Braille or where the presentation of a candidates answers might cause difficulty for an examiner.
The purpose of a transcript is to aid the examiner in the marking of a candidates answers. In the case of blind
candidates, it is your responsibility to arrange for the transcribing of Braille answers before returning them to us.
Where the presentation of a candidates answers might cause difficulty for an examiner, for example where
handwriting is poor due to a disability, injury or in the case of a specific learning difficulty (e.g. dysgraphia), you
can apply to submit a transcript along with the candidates own work.
9.2 Applications
Permission for the production of a transcript for a candidate who prepares their exam answers in Braille is not
required.
9.3 Code of practice
1. The transcript must be produced immediately after the exam in the presence of the candidate and under
secure conditions.
2. With brailled answers, the most convenient method of producing a transcript might be to ask the candidate to
dictate answers to a transcriber at the end of each component. Some types of access technology (for example
Braille keyboards) have the facility to convert Braille input to printed text output and thus avoid the need for a
transcript.

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CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

3. The candidate must dictate their answers clearly, indicating all punctuation.
4. The transcriber is required to ask the candidate to dictate the spelling of words which are: less common, likely
to cause confusion (e.g. those where there is a similar but different word in the candidates first language),
homophones.
5. The transcriber must underline all words for which the spelling has been checked in this way.
6. The transcript must be produced in a separate copy of the question/answer booklet, or on official exam
stationery as appropriate. This copy must be labelled clearly Transcript of Candidates Answers and marked
with the candidates name and number. When providing a transcript for the Writing paper, the transcriber
must only write on the question paper booklet or answer booklet where provided.
7. The transcript must be a verbatim copy of the original answers. Any errors of grammar, spelling or punctuation
must be transcribed as given by the candidate and must not be corrected. If the transcriber is not sure about
what the candidate has written, they should seek clarification.
On completion, the transcript must be:
signed by the transcriber
countersigned by, or on behalf of, the Centre Exams Manager
attached to the back of the candidates answers
included with the centres other materials for despatch to us in the usual way. See the relevant Exam Day
Booklet for instructions on how to include Special Arrangements materials with standard answer sheets.
Failure to follow the regulations above might result in the disqualification of the candidate.

CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

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Appendix 1 Access technology checklist


This checklist can also be found on page 23 of the Access Technology Guide

Equipment
has been cleared of any previously stored data
reflects the candidates normal method of reading, or producing written work
is in good working order at the time of the examination
has been set up in such a way that other candidates are not disturbed and cannot view the
candidates responses
if appropriate, is either connected to a printer so that a script can be printed off or has the facility
to print from a portable storage medium
if appropriate, can be used to produce scripts under secure conditions
does not have any predictive text software or automatic spellchecking, grammatical checking or
thesauri (or these functions are not available to the candidate)
does not give the candidate access to other applications such as dictionaries, grammar books in
electronic form, etc.
is not connected to the internet or any other means of communication

Scanning-in/downloading electronic versions of question papers


Question papers were scanned in no more than two hours before the start of the exam.
Electronic versions of question papers were downloaded from a secure server no more than two
hours before the start of the exam.

During the exam


Candidate was continuously monitored by invigilators.
Candidate did not use predictive text software or automatic spellchecking, grammatical checking
or thesauri.
Candidate did not use speech output for reading texts.

After the exam


A copy of the candidates responses was transcribed from Braille.
A print copy of the candidates responses was produced.
All question paper or response files remaining on the equipment were deleted.

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CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ASSESSMENT SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS BOOKLET MAR 15

Tick or
write N/A

Cambridge English
Language Assessment
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Tel: +44 1223 553997
Email: helpdesk@cambridgeenglish.org
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