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Extra Time in Public Examinations

Guidance for the Use of 25% Extra Time in Public Examinations

The best use of the 25% extra time that you have been awarded as a reasonable adjustment for a confirmed learning need will depend on individual needs.  Students who have benefited from extra time in internal assessments and examinations will already have received guidance as to how to use it to your individual advantage.  The following suggestions are all effective ways of making use of this time and serve as a timely reminder but some suggestions will not be appropriate in all types of examinations.  Students with extra time are provided with a set of highlighter pens as well as overlays if they use them.

Question and Time Management

  • Pre-reading questions on the paper to identify those questions for which you can produce your strongest answers  
  • Question numbers could perhaps be highlighted as follows:
    • green fr topics you are very confident about
    • yellw for topics you are less confident about
    • pink fr topics you feel least confident about
  • Questions could then be attempted in sequence: green, yellow, pink – this approach would work best in examinations where questions and answers are in the same booklet. This would enable you to ensure your best answers are completed first
  • Questions with the highest marks could be prioritised - this approach again would work best in examinations where questions and answers are in the same booklet
  • DIVIDE the TIME available (including your extra time) up over the questions / sections of the paper you need to answer – this will ensure you are using your extra time over the whole of the paper and not just the last few questions

Processing Information

  • Students will be provided with overlays where required by your needs profile – this will remain in your exam pack so you do not need to worry about remembering one.
  • Using an overlay reading guide can help the eye to keep track of lines of text and avoid skipping lines
  • Students will also be provided with a set of highlighter pens
  • Highlighters can be used to isolate key information in a text. This allows you to quickly retrieve key information when addressing the question
  • Different coloured highlighters can be used for different types of information e.g. pros and cons; details about different characters in a play extract; different types of language features/devices; cognates in foreign language papers


  • Planning an outline response can support weak short term memory – you can then just concentrate on putting the identified content together rather than trying to hold it in your memory AND put the content together into a coherent answer – ASK for spare exam paper if using an answer booklet & hand in spare sheet at end of exam. Mark it as Planning.
  • FIVE minutes spent planning an essay question could avoid mistaken lines of argument and ensure you can answer all elements of a question before starting an answer

Checking for Accuracy and Spelling

  • Check finished answers for accuracy of content – have you answered the question set? Have you backed up answers with evidence? Have you used specialist terminology to demonstrate knowledge?
  • Check finished answers for spelling accuracy – particularly important for subject specific words and on all English papers; not all errors will be spotted but spotting some is better than none!
  • Check finished answers for paragraph breaks – a double forward slash is an accepted convention for inserting a paragraph break: //
  • Writing on alternate lines will leave a line spare for corrections if needed; it may also help you to proof read your own work more quickly if your handwriting script is quite big in size

Exam Nerves management!

  • A few minutes colour breathing or using your anxiety calming strategy might help to get your mind into a more effective working mode if faced with an unexpected challenge