Secondary school students with special needs may have special arrangements made for them while sitting State examinations such as the Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate. Candidates with disabilities (for example, visual impairments, learning difficulties, motor and mobility impairments and so on) can apply through their school for the Scheme of Reasonable Accommodations at Certificate Examinations (RACE).
Reasonable accommodations are designed to remove, as far as possible, the impact of a disability on a candidate’s performance and enable the candidate to access the state examinations on an equal basis with other students. It does not give the candidate an unfair advantage over other candidates in the same examination.
What ‘reasonable accommodations’ are available?
Examples of reasonable accommodations include the following:
- You may get enlarged and/or Braille versions of questions, if you have a visual impairment
- You may use voice-activated computers, tape recorders or scribes (other people to do the writing)
- You may use assistive technology to access the examination paper, for example reading pens, magnifiers or screen readers
- You may do your examination in a hospital or in any other stand-alone centre
- If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you may be exempted from the aural part of the examination
Accommodations that can be approved by your school
Your school has the authority to make special provisions for students with special needs during State exams on the basis of what is best for you. Some of the special provisions your school can make include:
- Taking medicine, food or drinks into the examination centre where this is required for medical reasons.
- Use of a special desk or chair that is used in your classroom
- Use of low-vision aids that you normally use in the classroom
- Ensuring that deaf and hard-of-hearing students are seated close to the examination superintendent
- Granting breaks or rest periods in each examination session warranted by your physical or medical condition. (Under this special provision, the time taken for rest or as a break can be compensated for at the end of each examination period to a maximum of 20 minutes.)
If you are not satisfied with the arrangements made, you may appeal to an independent appeals forum. The members of the forum are from outside the Commission and all appeals are considered in light of the Framework of Principles set out by the Expert Advisory Group on State Examinations.
COVID-19 and RACE
In 2021, students will have the choice to sit the Leaving Certificate written examination in June or get an accredited grade from the State Examination Commission (SEC) or both. You can find out more about the Leaving Certificate 2021 and accredited grades.
If you are a student with special educational needs, your teacher will base their estimate for your accredited grade on the assumption that reasonable accommodation would have been available.
The State Examinations Commission has responsibility for ensuring the proper conduct of State examinations in Ireland. The Commission has a stated policy regarding the issue of reasonable accommodations of students with special needs during examination time.
However, schools also have the authority to make a number of specified arrangements to facilitate examination candidates with special needs without requesting advance permission from the Commission.
Where to apply
You can download the application form and further information on reasonable accommodations from examinations.ie.