SOAS University of London

Disability and Neurodiversity Team

Exams and Assessment FAQs

Please note that most of the information below refers to on-campus exams. In the instance where online exams are required, some of this information might be different. Please contact your Disability advisor to find out more.

For all general exam information, including coursework deadlines, exam timetable information and release of exam results, please go to the Registry's Examinations and Assessments page.

Additional information on Special Exam Arrangements.

  • When is the deadline for special arrangements and submitting evidence?

    The deadline for requesting special arrangements and submitting evidence will be decided in Term 2. Please contact the Disability & Neurodiversity Team by emailing or calling 0207 074 5015 to apply as early as possible.  If you apply for special arrangements (with evidence) after this deadline, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to put them in place.

    If you have had special arrangements agreed in previous years there is no need to contact us again, unless your needs have changed.

  • What medical evidence do I need?

    Medical evidence should outline the condition you have that necessitates special arrangements. It should also, if possible, explain what arrangements are necessary and why. This should be on headed paper, dated and signed by your medical practitioner.

  • What is acceptable evidence for Specific Learning Differences?

    Your report can be the report of an assessment taken either before or after you turned 16, but in some cases a new report may be requested if it was taken before you turned 16 (e.g. if the report was done at a pre-school age and/or has no information on educational requirements).

    If it is an assessment made by an educational psychologist it should include adult tests (WAIS) rather than child tests (WISC).

    The author of the report should certify that the assessment was conducted and report written in accordance with the Specific Learning Difficulties Working Group 2005/DFES guidelines for assessment of specific learning difficulties in higher education.

  • How will I know that my special arrangements have been approved by the exams office?

    Once agreed, your special exam arrangements, with your individual timetable, will be confirmed to you in an email sent to your SOAS account by the Exams office, in term 2.

  • I am a SOAS student but I am taking a course with another college of the University of London. Do I need to contact them regarding exam arrangements?

    No, if you have made arrangements with SOAS for special arrangements then you will sit your exam on the same day and time as the rest of your classmates but at a SOAS exam venue. We will get a copy of your exam paper from the teaching college and will then send them your script back for marking.

    Check your timetable to make sure that your special arrangements and the SOAS location are shown on it.

  • I am a student at another college of the University of London but I am taking a course at SOAS. Do I need to contact the SOAS Disability & Neurodiversity Team about arrangements?

    No, you should contact the Disability office at your main university where you will sit your exams. However, if you need support during your SOAS course or for in-class tests, please do contact us. 

  • What support and workshops are there to help with revision, exam-writing skills or exam anxiety?

    Learning and Teaching Development (LTD) and Student Advice and Wellbeing run a series of revision and exam-related workshops.

    See the LTD Study Skills Workshops page for general revision and exam skills workshops

    Click here for past papers available on the library website.  

    See the Student Advice and Wellbeing pages for exam stress, anxiety and self-help tips and events  

    We also run revision and exam workshops specifically for students with SpLDs (such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, AD(H)D)

  • Please explain what happens with each of the different 'special arrangements'?

    Extra time

    • If you have extra time, you will take your exam in a special arrangements room.
    • This will be with up to 20 other people.
    • Candidates using computers are in a different room.
    • A fixed amount of extra time, usually 10 or 15 minutes per hour of examination, is allowed. (For instance, an extra 10 minutes per hour means that a candidate will have 3 hours 30 minutes to complete an exam with a normal duration of 3 hours).
    • Breaks are counted. If a student has to leave the room at any point during the exam, the clock keeps ticking and no time will be added at the end of the exam to compensate (unless the student also has rest breaks – see below).
    • The exam duration showing on your individual timetable includes additional time. 

    Rest Breaks

    • If you have extra time to compensate for rest breaks and/or toilet breaks as part of your exam arrangements, you should raise your hand to let the invigilator know when you need to take a break / go to the toilet and let them know again when you have finished your break. 
    • You can leave the room, but not the building (unless this is a specific recommendation).
    • The invigilator will then stop timing the exam and will restart the timing when you restart.
    • During this time, you are not to write and candidates are not permitted to access either their question paper or answer script.
    • The usual maximum of break time is 30 minutes but this will be indicated on the e-mail confirmation you receive from the exam office and on your timetable.

    Use of amanuensis (scribe)

    • You will need to meet with your amanuensis prior to the exam to discuss your exam requirements and the Disability & Neurodiversity Team will assist you with the arrangements.

    Use of computer

    • If you have the use of a computer you may type your answers.
    • You are responsible for ensuring that your work is saved.
    • There are no facilities for printing your paper out in the exam rooms and your exam answers are handed in on a flash drive. This means that you are unable to add additional signs/symbols to a paper copy. It also means that any editing etc will need to be made on screen.
    • You will, however, be given paper answer books on which to answer questions, and if you use them then they will be submitted along with your typed answers. It is your responsibility to make it clear which question is being answered on paper and which on the computer if you use both methods.
    • Internet access will be disabled.
    • As you will be sharing the room with other candidates using computers, you may want to bring earplugs if you feel that the noise of people typing might disturb you.
    • Computer examinations will use Microsoft Word. Candidates with a Specific Learning Difference may use the spell check unless their agreed arrangements state otherwise.
    • Candidates sitting their exams in a separate/ individual room will use a laptop computer provided by the School.
    • Candidates must ensure that their candidate number and the code and title of the examination are put in the header of the document to ensure that it appears on every printed page. They should not put their name or student number anywhere on the document.
    • The document should be saved on the desktop during the examination. It will be saved to a flash drive at the end of the examination.
    • Candidates SHOULD NOT CLOSE DOWN THE DOCUMENT AT THE END OF THE EXAMINATION so that if there is a problem with the flash drive, the document can be retrieved by the Examinations and Assessments Office prior to the next examination.
    • Computers can fail. It is the candidates own responsibility to ensure that the work is backed up regularly. It is recommended that the document is saved at least every 15 minutes and that candidates take the opportunity to do so whenever they are not typing.

    Use of specialist software

    • You will need to have had training and experience in using this software prior to the exam.
    • Use of software will be discussed with the Disability & Neurodiversity Team and our Assistive Technology trainer.
  • I have a medical condition that means I need to eat regularly – can I do that in an exam?

    Yes – you can bring food into the exam but please do not bring anything that will distract other students (e.g. strong-smelling – or noisy wrappers)

  • What if I have a condition that means I need to go to the toilet a lot and so will miss lots of the exam?

    Let the Disability & Neurodiversity advisors know (and bring supporting evidence) and it may be possible to organise a stop-the-clock arrangement so that you don't miss out on the full amount of time to write your exam paper.

  • What MUST I take into an exam?

    You must bring into the exam room your individual timetable/ admission notice, your student ID card, pens.

  • Why do I need to print out my timetable and take it to the exam with me?

    You need to take the timetable to the exam with you because:

    • It will give your confidential candidate number, which you will need to enter on your answer book to ensure that your marks are recorded correctly.
    • It will show the room where you are expected to sit the examination.
    • If applicable, your timetable will show any special examination arrangement agreed for you. In the event of a query, you can show this to the invigilators. If you have extra time and/ or use of a computer it will say that.
    • If your timetable doesn't list the arrangements that you believe have been agreed, then it is important you let the Disability & Neurodiversity Team or the Exams office know straightaway.
  • What am I allowed to take into the exam room?
    • Any specific material and/or equipment (e.g. calculator) that has been permitted by the course / by your tutor.
    • You may bring bottled water and some food into the exam room, as long as it is not smelly; noisy wrappers are also to be avoided.
  • Will I have a label on my exam to make markers aware of spelling / grammar / handwriting difficulties?
    • Candidates with a Specific Learning Difference will have a label put on the cover of their main answer book. This is to ensure that markers are aware that the candidate has a Specific Learning Difference. The label reads: 
      'This candidate has been diagnosed with a condition which may affect handwriting, spelling and / or grammar. Please take this into consideration when marking this script.'
    • If a candidate does not want such label on their exam script, they should tell the invigilator at the beginning of the exam.
  • Do we have allocated seats/can I sit anywhere?

    You are allocated a seat within the exam hall / room. A seating plan will be displayed outside the room for you to check your seat number before entering.

  • What are the exam rooms like?
    • All the exams halls / rooms have a separate desk and chair for each candidate.
    • The desks are arranged in rows and are numbered.
    • The number of candidates varies from room to room.
    • Special arrangement rooms usually have a maximum of 20 candidates.
    • (The main exam halls / rooms vary from 32 candidates in smaller rooms to 220 in the biggest room / hall). 
  • What if I know in advance that I am not going to go to an exam – should I let the exams office know?

    Yes, it is important to let the exams office know if you know in advance that you are not going to an exam. If you have special arrangements, the exams office will then be able to cancel these. It may also be that they can advise you, or advise you to talk to someone else, about the consequences of not sitting the exam.

  • What if I miss an exam? / What if I am ill on the day of an exam or can't get to the university?

    You should let the Department Office have any relevant medical or other evidence to explain why you didn't attend within 7 days of the end of the exam period. For more information, see the information on SOAS Exams web page on absence from exams and late course work or no submission.

  • What if I am ill but take the exam anyway and am worried it might have affected my marks?
    • Let the chief invigilator know so that they can make a note in their report. Invigilators' reports are forwarded to the Chair of the relevant Exams Board for consideration of any special circumstances.
    • Provide the Department office with any relevant medical evidence within 7 days of the end of the exam period as above. A copy of this will be sent to the Chair of the relevant Mitigating Circumstances Panel for consideration.
  • What if something has happened in my life that has made it really difficult for me to study for my exams?

    Provide the Department office with any relevant medical evidence within 7 days of the end of the exam period and ask for a copy of this to be sent to the Chair of the relevant Mitigating Circumstances Panel for consideration.

  • What about my results: What's a pass, when will I know and what if I fail?

    In most cases, a pass mark is 40% for undergraduate and 50% for postgraduate.

    If you have failed, your options will be explained to you in an e-mail/ letter sent to you when results are released.

    Click on this link to the Exams Office website which gives details of deadlines; when results are released and options if you have failed

  • Can I see my exam paper?
    • No, exam scripts remain the property of the School and are not returned to candidates.
    • If you want to receive some feedback on your performance, please contact your Department in the first instance. Academics are under no obligation to provide feedback, but can do so at their discretion.
    • Alternatively, you may want to make a request to see the comments from your scripts through the DPA (please see this page on requesting access to personal data on the SOAS website).
  • What if I don't think the mark is right?

    Please send an e-mail to your Department office, asking for a clerical check to be carried out. Please indicate clearly which mark you are querying (i.e, which course and which element (EX1, AS1..)) and the reasons why you think it is not correct.