Procedures for the use of laptops in written examinations

1 Purpose

1.1 At City Lit, we recognise that for some candidates with specific learning difficulties or
disabilities, a laptop (or other word processing device) may be the most appropriate method
of organising and presenting their work.

1.2 We want to ensure that, in these situations, the relevant arrangements are being made and
students practice under exam conditions prior to their formal examination.


2 Principles guiding this policy

2.1 The use of a laptop in an exam needs to reflect a candidate’s normal way of working in his or
her course at City Lit and must be appropriate to the candidate’s needs. The candidate must
be proficient in the use of a laptop.
A laptop cannot be granted to a candidate solely because he/she prefers to type rather than
write or can write faster on a keyboard.

2.2 Candidates who might benefit from such an arrangement can, for example, include those

  • a learning difficulty which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on the ability to
    write legibly;
  • a medical condition;
  • a physical disability;
  • a sensory impairment;
  • illegible handwriting;
  • planning and organisational problems when writing by hand.

2.3 The use of a laptop will be considered when

  • a need has been established;
  • its use is recommended by the Learning Support team; and
  • appropriate training has been undertaken.

2.4 The Learning Support team need to be satisfied that

  • a candidate’s typing is efficient, accurate and of sufficient speed to be able to cope with
    the exam;
  • a candidate has used a laptop as his or her routine way of working in the subject area;
  • has had sufficient practice in the use of it under exam conditions (e.g. using relevant
    templates, setting up the document etc).

2.5 Where the above requirements are not met, the use of a laptop will not be recommended.

2.6 In exams without a significant amount of writing or consisting of more simplistic answers
which may be easier to handwrite, avoiding the need to switch between answer paper and
laptop may be preferable for the candidate.


3 Procedures

3.1 During the interview for a course as well as during the enrolment process, students are given
the opportunity to indicate any learning difficulties or disabilities they might have. These
students are then contacted by Learning Support team for a more detailed assessment of
their needs.

3.2 Students can also contact Learning Support directly – or they can talk to their course tutor
who will arrange a referral to Learning Support. We recommend that an assessment takes
place at the earliest opportunity.

3.3 Learning Support will, as and when appropriate, explore whether the use of a laptop should
be recommended as a student’s normal way of working.

3.4 Learning Support will then liaise with the relevant curriculum area (coordinators) and the
course tutor to ensure that the normal way of working in class and during mock exams
reflects their recommendations.

3.5 Learning Support then confirm the use of a laptop with the exams office.

3.6 The course tutor ensures that during mock exams, the way in which the laptop is used takes
into account the relevant exam regulations (see section 4 below).

3.7 Learning Support and programme areas periodically review the agreed arrangements and
make adjustments as and when necessary.

3.8 Where, at a later stage, course tutors or support staff identify an as yet unrecorded need for
the use of a laptop as a student’s normal way of working, they ensure that students are
referred back for assessment and appropriate practice under exam conditions. Learning
Support will update their records and inform the exams office accordingly.

3.9 Students using a laptop might have to sit their exams together with other students with a
variety of access arrangements or with students for whom access arrangements do not


4 Regulations for the use of a laptop (or other word processing device)

4.1 As the exams office might decide to arrange for separate accommodation for exam
candidates using a laptop, numbers need to be confirmed at the earliest opportunity.

4.2 For national exams taking place in the summer, requests for access arrangements should be
with the exams office by 1st March. Requests need to come via Learning Support. For other
exams, the requests should be agreed at least six weeks before the first exam.

4.3 City Lit will provide a laptop on the day of the exam to ensure that only standard software is

4.4 Only the relevant software applications will be available; spell-check, grammar check and the
thesaurus will not be available. It will not be connected to the intranet, internet or any other
means of communication.

4.5 For the production of text, only “Notepad” (or “Wordpad” or an equivalent) will be allowed –
no spell-check, grammar check or thesaurus. The exam office will send a leaflet with
instructions to each candidate for whom the use of a laptop has been agreed.

4.6 City Lit will also provide a USB stick which is clear of previous data. The candidate’s work will
need to be saved onto the USB stick and printed from it.

4.7 At the end of the examination the candidate will be required to remain in the room while their
work is printed off and to authenticate the relevant hard copy.


5 Limitations to the use of a laptop (or other word processing device)

5.1 The use of a laptop might not be agreed in cases where, for example

  • a particular exercise should not be done with computer assistance (maps, diagrams etc.)
  • calculations are required without the assistance of computer functions, such as in maths
  • using a laptop would cause distraction or disturbance to other candidates.
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