8. Special Arrangements for Individual Candidates

8.1. Use of calculators in examinations

Chairs are reminded that, where the Regulations require it, they must issue a list of calculators that are permitted. This list should be sent to all candidates as close as possible to the start of the academic year in which they are sitting their examinations. It should also be copied to the Head of Examinations and Assessments. Information on the type of calculator permitted is given in the Examination Regulations, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 10, cl. 10.4, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p10dopatuow-p-ccaominexam/.

8.2. Bilingual dictionaries

Students whose first language is not English are not permitted to use bilingual dictionaries except in the rare cases where usage is specified in subject regulations or where a student started their current course before 1 October 2009 and has obtained permission for their use. English-only dictionaries and dictionaries in electronic form are NOT permitted under any circumstances (Examination Regulations, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 10, cl.10.7, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p10dopatuow-p-ccaominexam/).

Candidates wishing to use bilingual dictionaries in those rare cases where they are permitted by regulation should apply to the Proctors through their Senior Tutor (or other appropriate college officer). Requests should be made by fourth week of Michaelmas term for examinations taking place at any time during the academic year. Late requests will not be entertained. Permission to use a bilingual dictionary is normally ongoing, unless the candidate changes course, in which case a new application will need to be made.

8.3. Alternative examination arrangements for candidates

Candidates apply through their college to the Examinations and Assessments team (working under delegated authority from the Proctors) to request approval for any alternative arrangements (e.g. use of a computer, papers to be taken in college or with extra time in the Examination Schools) (Examination Regulations, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 12, cl. 12.2, www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p12cwsexamneed/ ). In most circumstances, a medical certificate will be required. Applications should be submitted by colleges via a secure SharePoint site.

The Proctors (or the Examinations and Assessments team, working under delegated authority) will decide whether to approve the request; the college and the chair will be notified via the SharePoint site. The chair should make particular note of cases when papers will be sat at different times than the main cohort, as this may affect planning for marking. In some cases, the arrangements will apply to the whole cohort to reduce disruption (e.g. papers to be taken in the morning rather than the afternoon for medical reasons or as a result of fasting for religious reasons).The Proctors expect requests for alternative examination arrangements to be submitted no later than Friday of fourth week, Michaelmas Term, for exams not held in Trinity Term or the Long Vacation, and Friday of fourth week, Hilary Term, for exams held in Trinity Term or the Long Vacation. This makes it easier to deal with urgent matters that arise while examinations are in progress.

Please note that students no longer need a medical certificate to support minor adjustments and permission to take medical aids/medication into an examination. This includes bringing snacks, and medications including asthma inhalers, eye drops, ear plugs, nasal spray or a cushion into an examination, or wearing for example a wrist splint. For students with Type 1 diabetes this also includes bringing blood-testing kits, glucose drinks and/or tablets, insulin with syringes. A letter from the college Senior Tutor or college nurse is sufficient to support these minor adjustments/provide permission to take medical aids/medication into an examination, and should be brought by the student with them into Examination Schools or Ewert House.

All students are permitted to bring water (still, in a spill-proof bottle) and sweets into examinations without special permission. Further information on candidates’ personal possessions in examinations is given in section 10.9.

8.4. Students with disabilities

In the case of students with disabilities, colleges must consider in the light of equality and disabilities legislation what reasonable adjustments to the examination process may be necessary. The identification of a course’s competence standards is key to avoiding unlawful discrimination and enabling the University to meet this anticipatory duty to make reasonable adjustments. Therefore, supervisory bodies must clarify the competence standards of their courses. Further information on competence standards is available in Annex B: Competence standards.

Candidates should make requests for adjustments through their colleges to the Proctors (through the Examinations and Assessments team via the secure SharePoint site).The Disability Advisory Service is available to offer advice regarding appropriate adjustments. The Proctors may give permission for extra time, rest periods, the rescheduling of examinations, the use of amanuenses, the use of computers and appropriate software, etc.

In the case of candidates with severe disability, variations in the Examination Regulations (concerning course and mode of examination) may be appropriate. Such variations may only be made with the approval of Education Committee, although the Proctors may be able to assist colleges in framing their requests. Please note that special facilities or extra time cannot be accommodated at Ewert House, so students with these requirements will be examined in the Examination Schools or their college (further information on applying for these major adjustments is given in Annex A: Major adjustments to examinations and assessment).

8.5. Candidates with specific learning difficulties (SpLDs), e.g. dyslexia

Permission for extra time in written examinations, normally 15 minutes in each hour, may be given by the Proctors on the advice of the Disability Advisory Service. In some cases, on their advice, a candidate may be given permission to use a word-processor, usually within a special room in the Examination Schools. Candidates with SpLDs  should notify (through their college) the Examinations and Assessments team of their requests when an assessment is available, or by the deadlines stated under 8.3 above, whichever is sooner.

The Examinations and Assessments team will arrange for a cover-sheet explaining the typical effects of the candidate’s condition to be attached to each of the candidate’s scripts and to any submitted coursework before they are dispatched for marking. Chairs, in consultation with the Head of Examinations and Assessments, should ensure that cover-sheets are also attached to any examined pieces of coursework not submitted to the Examination Schools. 

Arrangements for candidates with SpLDs are normally ongoing, unless the candidate changes course, in which case a new application to the Proctors, through the Examinations and Assessments team, needs to be made. Chairs of First Public Examinations must thus ensure that information concerning ongoing arrangements for candidates with SpLDs is passed on to the appropriate Faculty or Departmental administrator on the completion of the examination (see 11.14 below). Information on approved arrangements is available to departments via the SITS student record system.

8.6. Invigilation in colleges

When, in exceptional circumstances, a candidate has been allowed to sit an examination in their college, the college is required to provide a suitable room and an invigilator (Examination Regulations, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 15, cl. 15.5(3), www.admin.ox.ac.uk/examregs/2016-17/rftcoue-p15sainviofexam/). The Examinations and Assessments team will provide guidance on who may invigilate in these circumstances and what the invigilator is required to do (see 10.2 below). All invigilators must have received appropriate training from the Examinations and Assessments team, at least once every three years. Colleges must obtain approval of the invigilator(s) from the Proctors via the Examinations and Assessments team for each college examination sitting. The aim must be to ensure that the examination is conducted under similar conditions to those in the Examination Schools. One of the Proctors may attend at any point.

8.7. Question papers in special locations

The provision of papers for candidates sitting examinations in specially approved locations (college, Alternative Arrangements Room, Computer Suite) is the responsibility of the Examinations and Assessments team, and examiners should not supply papers for this purpose. The Examinations and Assessments team will have packages for each candidate, containing question papers, script booklets and any materials, available half an hour before the start of the examination for collection by the appointed invigilator, who will be required to provide their University card as evidence of identity. After each examination is completed, scripts must be delivered promptly to the Examination Schools by the invigilator and signed in. Such scripts can be delivered to markers or collected from Examination Schools, as with all other scripts, although they may be a little delayed if sat later than the main cohort.

A small number of online examinations are conducted in the Medical Sciences Teaching Centre. A set of procedural arrangements agreed between the MSTC and the Proctors is sent to colleges each year. These include contingency arrangements for candidates who are unable to sit these examinations in the MSTC and need to sit them in their colleges.

8.8. Medical information in support of alternative examination arrangements

A certificate from a candidate’s doctor is normally required in support of a request for alternative examination arrangements or late presentation. The Proctors will accept a letter from the college nurse for minor ailments and injuries. A medical certificate is required when the request involves a significant change to the conduct of an exam (college venue, extra time/rest breaks, use of a word processor etc.). The certificate should indicate the medical reason for the specific request. The Proctors will expect the certificate to include an independent medical assessment and it should not simply reproduce the candidate’s claims uncritically. The candidate should request a certificate from the doctor at a time when the doctor is able to certify the facts. Colleges are responsible for transmitting the medical certificate in good time to the Examinations and Assessments team via the relevant application form (see also 11.7 below).

From Michaelmas term 2015, the University medical certificate template should be used in all University procedures requiring medical evidence, including requests for alternative arrangements or late presentation. The template is available at www.admin.ox.ac.uk/edc/resources/medicalcerts, and college doctors will be provided with an electronic version of the certificate which is compatible with their information management systems, and which can be pre-populated with both doctors’ and student patients’ details. A completed copy of the medical certificate template should accompany applications for alternative arrangements in examinations. The template asks for specific information from medical practitioners, including any recommendations for alternative arrangements, and should aid University and college staff by providing the information required in a standard format.

‘Guidance for medical practitioners on the use of medical certificates’ has also been produced, and is available at www.admin.ox.ac.uk/edc/resources/medicalcerts. While aimed at medical practitioners, this may also be helpful to University and college staff dealing with medical certificates, and to examiners. It includes guidance on information required when a medical certificate is requested to support an application for alternative examination arrangements, and a list of common adjustments to exam arrangements.

From Michaelmas term 2015, the University (including the Proctors’ Office and Student Administration) will accept medical certificates supplied electronically (which may include a scanned version of a signed, hard copy), where the receiving officer is satisfied that the e-mail address from which the certificate is sent is a genuine UK NHS medical practitioner’s or practice / hospital account (e.g. doctor.name@trust.nhs.uk or equivalent).

In cases of acute illness when a medical certificate is necessary, but when there is no time prior to the start of the exam to obtain one, the request for alternative arrangements may be accompanied by a signed letter from the college nurse, Dean or Senior Tutor. If the letter comes from the Dean or Senior Tutor, a letter or medical certificate from a doctor or college nurse must follow and should be provided within 7 days of the initial request.

The statement from a college nurse, Dean or Senior Tutor should include the name of the student, the name of the college, and a full description of the illness/condition, symptoms, and the onset date. It should state how long the symptoms are expected to last and what adjustments would be appropriate to enable the student to sit their examinations. The statement should be accompanied by the usual college alternative exam arrangements application form and submitted to the secure SharePoint site for alternative arrangements (see section 8.3 above).

Where a candidate takes examinations at a particular disadvantage, it is always preferable to alleviate the disadvantage by appropriate alternative arrangements rather than to expect examiners to compensate in their adjudication on the merits of performance.

8.9 Candidates sitting an examination under a previous set of regulations

Candidates are entitled to sit their examination according to the regulations in force at the time they were taught within the following time limits:

  • For FHS candidates, within six terms of the original assessment date

  • For FPE candidates, within three terms of the original assessment date

  • For taught postgraduate students, so long as the time elapsed since they were originally due to be examined is not greater than the maximum time permitted for completion of their course.

Outside of these time limits, students will usually be examined under current regulations. Requests to be examined under previous regulations in such cases need to be made by applying for a dispensation from Education Committee.

Education Policy Support officers will contact the faculty/department (generally the Chair of examiners/Examination Administrator) to confirm that papers will be set under old regulations and inform the college of this confirmation. 

Full details of the new procedure for sitting examinations under old regulations, including the responsibilities of colleges, departments, faculties and Education Policy Support, is available from the Case Management page under Useful Documents.