SOAS University of London

Disability and Neurodiversity Team

Exams and adjustments to exam arrangements

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.

NOTE: For all general exam information, including coursework deadlines, exam timetable information and release of exam results, please go to

Also, for additional information on Special Exam Arrangements, go to:

Prior to Exams

When is the deadline for special arrangements?

The deadline for requesting special arrangements and submitting evidence is decided in Term 2. Please contact us 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.

Please note that no amendment to the agreed examination arrangement will be considered after 23rd April 2018 (the first day of Term 3), so do contact the Disability Office urgently if the arrangement confirmed to you is not what you expected.

What should medical evidence look like?

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 for reports for Specific Learning Differences?

Your dyslexia/dyspraxia/dyscalculia report must be the report of an assessment taken after you were 16. 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 Details Working Group 2005/DFES guide-lines 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.

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, it will show any special examination arrangement agreed for you. In the event of a query, you can show this to the invigilators.

The arrangements are listed on the bottom of the timetable. If you have extra time and/ or use of a computer it will say that. If it doesn't list the arrangements that you believe have been agreed then it is important you let the Student Disability Advisor or the Exams office know straightaway.

I am a SOAS student but I am taking a floater course with another university.  Do I need to contact them regarding exam arrangements?

No if you have made arrangements with SOAS for special arrangements then we will request a copy of your exam paper. You will sit your exam on the same day and time as the rest of your class but at SOAS. Check your timetable to make sure that your special arrangements and the SOAS location are shown on it.

I am a student at another UK university but I am taking a course at SOAS. Do I need to contact the SOAS disability office 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 if I know I am not going to go to an exam – should I let the exams office know?

Yes that is important. If you have special arrangements the exams office will be able to cancel these if you let them know. 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.

How can I get help to do a better exam?

Learning and Teaching Development (LTD) and Student Advice and Wellbeing run a series of exam workshops. See Study Skills Workshops for more information. Past papers are available on the library website.   We also run exam workshops specifically for students with SpLDs (such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, AD(H)D).  See for more information.

What can I do about exam anxiety?

The learning and teaching unit run a series of workshops with the counselling service on dealing with exam stress. See Study Support Workshops for more information. You can also make an appointment to see one of the counsellors or the mental health advisor to talk about this.

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 exams office or one of the disability 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.

During the Exams

What happens if I have 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.
Rest Breaks
  • If you have extra time to compensate for rest breaks and/or toilet breaks as part of your exam arrangements you should let the invigilator know when you need to take a break/go to the toilet.
  • The invigilator will then stop timing the exam and restart the timing when you restart.
  • During this time you are not to write.
  • 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 disability office 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 disc. 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.
  • At the end of the exam, DO NOT CLOSE THE DOCUMENT.  You should check that you have saved the work to the disc.  The invigilator will collect in your disc.
  • 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.
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 office and our IT 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 (i.e. strong-smelling – or noisy wrappers)

What must I take into an exam?

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

What can I take into an exam?
  • If any specific material and equipment (i.e. calculator) is permitted you should have been told so by your tutor.
  • You may bring into the exam room bottled water and some food, as long as it is not smelly; noisy wrappers are also to be avoided.
  • Coloured overlays: all students with  special exam arrangements and a Specific Learning Difference automatically have permission to bring these to the exam if they wish.
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 and rooms have a separate desk and chair for each candidate.
  • The desks are arranged in rows and numbered.
  • The number of candidates varies from room to room, from 32 for the smallest to 220 for the biggest.
  • Special arrangement rooms are usually smaller, with a maximum of 16 candidates.
  • Although our main external hall (Camden Centre Main Hall) does not have windows, it is a high-ceilinged, well lit hall. All other rooms have windows.

Exam attendance and performance

What if I miss an exam? / What if I am ill on the day of an exam and can't get in?

You should let the faculty 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 faculty 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 Exam Boards 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 faculty 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 Exam Boards for consideration.

What mark do I have to get to pass?

In most cases 40% for undergraduate and 50% for postgraduate

What happens if I have failed?

Your options will be detailed to you in an e-mail/ letter sent to you when results are released. If you have any query, please contact the Exam Office.

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 ask your tutor for comments. 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: Data Protection Policy: Examinations and Assessment)
What if I don't think the mark is right?

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

Contact Details

For exams office: Catherine Bossard
For disability services: Angela Axon and Zoë Davis