Special Educational Needs

Reasonable Accommodations at Junior and Leaving Certificate Examinations


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The state examinations, sometimes called the “certificate examinations”, are the Leaving Certificate examinations, the Junior Certificate examinations, and the final examinations in the new Junior Cycle. These examinations are run by the State Examinations Commission on behalf of the Minister for Education and Skills.

The Examinations Commission makes arrangements that allow students with special educational needs, such as those caused by visual impairments or dyslexia, to access the state examinations on an equal basis with other students.

Deciding what is needed

Not all students with a learning or physical difficulty will need to have special access arrangements made for them. The examinations are designed to be as accessible as possible for all students. It is normal that anxiety caused by examinations can interfere with your ability to read and concentrate. Every attempt is made to overcome this by making the language used in the examinations as clear and straightforward as it can be, and by using a well-designed layout. Sometimes it is necessary to use difficult words or phrases because they are important words used in the subject and your ability to understand and use these words is part of what we are testing. But apart from this, the papers as made as easy to read as possible. In particular, the language in the examinations is easier to read than what you will find in a typical textbook for the subject.

Because of this, even if you have some difficulty with reading, you still may not need any special arrangement for your examinations. Only if your reading ability falls below a certain level will you need reading assistance in the examination. Your school will be able to carry out the necessary tests to check this.

Likewise, if you have very poor handwriting or spelling, you may be worried that this will prevent the examiners from reading and understanding your work. The State Examinations Commission examiners are very well practised at reading all manner of poor handwriting. Also, in subjects where spelling is not an important part of what is being tested, the examiners will ignore spelling mistakes and instead focus on the meaning of what you are trying to say. Because of this, your writing or spelling would have to fall far below average before it would interfere with your ability to communicate well enough with the examiner. As with reading, your school will be able to carry out the necessary tests to check this.