SOAS University of London


Special Examination Arrangements

Procedure to apply

If you think you will need any special examination arrangements (e.g. because you have a disability or a medical condition), you are strongly encouraged to contact the Disability Office in Term 1. 

Please consult the Disability Office FAQs for more information on procedures and deadlines. Late requests may not be accommodated.

If your academic work throughout the year will be affected, you may also wish to bring it to the attention of your tutors.

The Disability Office will need to see documentary evidence of your condition. Based on the evidence you provide, they will make a recommendation as to what adjustments are needed for any examination by unseen paper you will take during the School examination periods. Please see a description of standard arrangements below.
If your condition demands more specific arrangements (i.e. use of specialist equipment or software, unusual combination of arrangements…), we may refer your application to the Special Assessment Panel for consideration.

Once agreed, your special exam arrangement will be confirmed to you in an email sent to your SOAS account by the Examinations and Assessments Office in Term 2.
The agreed arrangement will also show on the individual timetable that will be emailed to your SOAS account in April.

Please note that no amendment to the agreed examination arrangement will be considered after Thursday 12th of March, so do contact the Disability Office urgently if the arrangement confirmed to you is not what you expected.

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Conduct of examinations with special arrangements

  • If you have agreed examination arrangements, you will sit all of your end-of-year examinations on the same day and time as your classmates but in a different exam venue. No candidate with special arrangements will sit in the main exam halls as the arrangements would be impossible to monitor. You may sit in:
    • A special arrangement room. Only candidates with agreed exam arrangments sit in this room. It holds a maximum of 20 candidates.
    • The computer suite. If your arrangements include use of a computer.
    • A separate room. If you need to be on your own.
  • You must print and bring your individual timetable with you as it shows your candidate number and what arrangements have been agreed.
  • The invigilators will be aware of your arrangements but not the reason why you have them. They may be given additional information such as “may need to take medicine” or “must be seated by the door” to help them ensure the smooth running of the exam.
  • If you have a specific learning difference:
    • a label will be put on the front of your answerbook. 
    • you may bring to your exams any coloured overlay or tinted glasses you normally use.
  • If you have to sit an end-of-year exam for an intercollegiate course, you will sit it on the same day and time as your classmates but at a SOAS exam venue. We will borrow the paper from the teaching college and send them your script back for marking.

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Description of standard arrangements

Please find below a short description of the arrangements routinely put in place for students with special needs. Please note that these might be combined. A candidate may be granted extra time and use of computer, for example.

Extra time in examinations
  • A fixed 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 not discounted. 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
  • The exam duration showing on the individual timetable does take additional time into consideration. 
Examinations taken on computer
  • 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.
  • There may be several candidates in the computer room for any examination session and there may be some background noise. Candidates who feel they may be distracted by this will be permitted to use foam/non-electronic earplugs (these are available from chemists). Candidates must supply their own earplugs.
Extra time to compensate for breaks taken where approved
  • Please note that this arrangement only allows extra time for breaks taken during the examination. The duration of the exam, i.e. the time permitted for reading and writing the examination, is as published for that examination.
  • When a candidate wants to take a break they must raise their hand and inform the invigilator. The break will then be timed.
  • During breaks, candidates are not permitted to access either their question paper or answer script. This will be monitored by the invigilators.
  • Rest breaks are permitted in relation to the candidate’s condition. It is time for them to take a break from working on their exam, to manage their condition. They can leave the room but may not leave the building unless it is directly related to their condition and recommended by the Disability Office. The invigilators’ time has to be used carefully as other students will require rest breaks or assistance during the exam.
  • When a candidate completes their break, they must inform the invigilator. They may then return to their paper and the time taken will be added on at the end of the examination.

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  • Candidates with a Specific Learning Difference will have a label put on the cover of their main answerbook. This is to ensure that markers are aware that the candidate has a Specific Learning Difference. It 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.

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