9. Special arrangements for individual candidates

9.1. 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, 2014, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 10, cl. 10.4, p. 24.

9.2. 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, 2014, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 10, cl.10.7, p. 25, ll. 8-17)

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 4th 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.

9.3. Alternative examination arrangements for candidates

Colleges are responsible for liaising with the Examinations and Assessments Section, working under delegated authority from the Proctors, to request approval for any special arrangements for candidates (e.g. use of a computer, papers to be taken in college or with extra time in the Examination Schools) (Examination Regulations, 2014, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 12, cl. 12.2, p. 26, ll. 32-34). In most circumstances, a medical certificate will be required. The Proctors will decide whether to approve the request; they will notify the college and the Head of Examinations and Assessments, copying the information also to the chair. 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 4th week, Michaelmas Term, for exams not held in Trinity Term or the Long Vacation, and Friday of 4th 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.

To assist the staff within the Examinations and Assessments Section, students granted special permission for minor matters, such as the bringing of food, drink, medicine or medical aids, are required to carry a copy of the letter from the Proctors, their Senior Tutor or college nurse with them into Examination Schools or Ewert House.

Students are permitted to bring water (still, in a spill-proof bottle) into examinations without special permission. Further information on candidates’ personal possessions in examinations is given in section 11.9.

9.4. 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, and make requests to the Proctors through the Examinations and Assessments Section. 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 is given in Annex A: Reasonable adjustments requiring significant changes to University course and assessment regulations.)

9.5. 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. Colleges should notify the Examinations and Assessments Section of new requests relating to SpLD candidates when an assessment is available, or by the deadlines mentioned under 9.3 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 Section, 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 12.15 below).

9.6. 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, 2014, Regulations for the Conduct of University Examinations, Part 15, cl. 15.5(3), p. 34, ll. 1-4).  The Examinations and Assessments Section will provide guidance on who may invigilate in these circumstances and what the invigilator is required to do (see 11.2 below). All invigilators must have received appropriate training at the Schools. Colleges must obtain approval of the invigilator(s) from the Proctors’ via the Examinations and Assessments Section 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.

9.7. 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 Section, and examiners should not supply papers for this purpose.  The Examinations and Assessments Section 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 Schools by the invigilator and signed in.  Chairs should make arrangements for the collection from Schools of scripts written in special locations and should contact the Examinations and Assessments Office (tel. 2-76302) in case of query.

A small number of online examinations are now 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.

9.8. Medical and other information for examiners

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. Local doctors associated with colleges have a special form for this purpose. 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 Junior Proctor. (See also 12.7 below.)

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 statement from either the college nurse, Dean or Senior Tutor. The appropriate certificate 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 may be emailed directly to eap@admin.ox.ac.uk from a verifiable college email address and should be accompanied by the usual college application form for alternative exam arrangements.

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