Regulating GCSEs, AS and A levels: guide for schools and colleges

Special consideration

Support for students affected by illness, injury or other events outside their control

Our rules define special consideration as any special treatment given to a student who has temporarily experienced an illness, injury or other event outside their control which significantly affects their ability to:

  • take an assessment
  • demonstrate what they can do in an assessment

What exam boards must do

Our rules require exam boards to:

  • have clear arrangements for giving special consideration
  • publish details of those arrangements, including what special consideration is available, and how students qualify for it

We do not specify what special consideration exam boards should give, or how they should determine eligibility for it.

However, all the exam boards offer 3 different types of support for students who are affected by circumstances outside their control, all of which are types of special consideration:

  1. Changes to the way assessments are taken for students with temporary injuries or illnesses (sometimes referred to as ‘Access Arrangements’).
  2. A small number of extra marks for students whose exam performance is affected by temporary illness, injury, indisposition, or an unforeseen incident.
  3. Awarding the qualification even though the student has not completed all the assessments that would normally be required (from summer 2017, a student must have completed at least 25% of the assessment to be eligible for this type of special consideration)

JCQ provide more information about these different types of support.

The role of schools and colleges

If a student’s ability to complete their assessments, or to fully demonstrate in their assessments what they know, understand or can do, is affected by a temporary illness, injury or other event outside their control, the exam board should be notified as soon as possible.

The exam board can explain what support they can offer, and how to apply for it.

A school or college should not wait until the student has completed the assessments, or until after results are issued, before contacting the exam board as this may mean the student misses out on additional support.

If a school or college does not agree with an exam board’s decision

An exam board should always explain why it has decided not to give a student a special consideration or to make a different consideration to that requested. Our rules mean they must have a process for appealing that decision. If a school or college doesn’t agree with the exam board’s decision, it should follow that process. We will usually only consider complaints about an exam board once the appeal has been concluded.