Exam access arrangements: visual impairments

Exam access arrangements: visual impairments

Access arrangements for pupils with visual impairments taking GCSE or SAT exams.

Modified GCSE test materials 

Braille and modified large print (MLP) test materials are available on GOV.UK for children who have a diagnosed visual impairment and: 

  • have a statement of special educational needs, or
  • whose needs are being met at School Action Plus of the Special educational needs (SEN) code of practice, or
  • access the school curriculum through modified large print or Braille materials

The MLP papers have been designed to be accessible to children with a wide range of visual impairments. In exceptional circumstances, children may use MLP papers for reasons other than visual impairment, if this reflects usual classroom practice.

If children normally use enlarged materials in class, it might be appropriate to order the enlarged print (EP) tests. You can also order them for children with other special educational needs, for example motor impairments or dyspraxia.

Schools should decide which version of the test is most appropriate for each child, based on their normal classroom practice. You can view samples of MLP and EP test papers on the Test orders section of the NCA tools website. 

You can order hard-copy versions of past modified tests from STA’s modified test helpline. Call 0300 303 3019 for further details.

The table below summarizes the different test formats.

Type of test Standard Enlarged print Modified large print Braille
Presentation A4 booklets printed in colour B4 black and white booklets. Enlarged version of the standard test. B4 black and white booklets. Grade 2 Braille on paper, Brailon, heat swell paper and plastic film, as appropriate
Text size 12 point A4 enlarged to B4 (124%) 18 point, bold print British Braille code (RNIB 2004), including capital letters
Modifications not applicable No modifications made to text or diagrams Some text modifications Some text modifications
Diagrams not applicable Some mathematics diagrams cannot be enlarged Diagrams are modified or removed Diagrams are modified or removed
Models not applicable not applicable Models may be supplied to support some questions Models may be supplied to support some questions
Mark scheme not applicable Standard mark scheme is applied Mark scheme may be amended Mark scheme may be amended

SATs arrangements 

A pupil does not need to have an EHCP, or a diagnosis of anything specific, to be able to use access arrangements. Their issues, however, must be considered to be disabling. 

You can order SATs papers in the following formats.

Key Stage 1 

  • modified large print: this a version of the paper designed for visual simplicity in 24 point print on A4-size paper
  • contracted braille

Key Stage 2

  • enlarged print: a straightforward enlargement of the standard test paper in 14 point print on B4-size paper
  • modified large print: a version of the paper with diagrams modified or omitted, printed in 19 point print on B4-size paper
  • contracted braille

Optional tests are also available in the same range of formats as Key Stage 2 tests.

Access arrangements

All arrangements must reflect normal classroom practice. They can include:

  • additional time, up to 100% for braille users
  • scribe: can be used only when students are unable to write their own answers or use a word processor
  • reader: human or computer
  • practical assistant: may be used to ensure safety, name colours, draw diagrams
  • written transcription: all or part of a pupil’s test script can be transcribed if it will be difficult for a marker to read the pupil’s writing
  • word-processors: may be used during mathematics and English grammar, punctuation and spelling tests, provided it’s normal classroom practice
  • rest breaks: can be appropriate for a pupil who finds it difficult to concentrate or who may experience fatigue
  • apparatus: real objects may be used when the pupil has difficulty accessing two-dimensional diagrams

Find more information on the GOV.UK guidance on how to use access arrangements