We believe exams should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their learning or physical impairments. Please read this page before you register for your exam. It includes frequently asked questions about the provisions available for candidates with specific learning difficulties.

Special arrangements

The British Council is committed to providing all students with open and fair access to opportunity. We provide a special arrangements service for candidates with hearing, speech, visual and kinetic difficulties. We also provide special arrangements for candidates with learning difficulties such as dyslexia.

 We will also make special arrangements for you on the day of the exam if you have been in an accident before taking your exam and have an injury such as a broken arm.

These are the types of special arrangements we are able to make:

  • extended testing time
  • supervised breaks
  • alternate test formats such as Braille or enlarged print
  • wheelchair access
  • a copier or amanuensis (someone who can type the words that you dictate to them)
  • listening with lip reading.

If you need other special arrangements that are not mentioned here, we will do everything we can to meet your needs. Contact us and we will try to find the most suitable solution.

Qualifying for special arrangements

In order to qualify for some special arrangements you will need to provide medical evidence from an appropriately qualified practitioner.

The medical evidence should:

  • be legible
  • give a clear statement of your disability and needs
  • be an original document on headed paper or with an official stamp and bearing the name, relevant qualification(s) and signature of a recognised practitioner.

For candidates with learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia) additional criteria apply. The most important are:

  • The medical papers should be issued no longer than two years before the date of the examination.
  • We will also ask for a sample of the candidate’s handwriting – therefore you will need to submit a short essay written in English in your handwriting.

We will use the information we gather in this process to make sure that we make the most appropriate special arrangements for your situation.

If you are a school owner who is making applications on behalf of your students, please submit the candidate’s registration on an individual application form and do not include him/her on the Block Entry Form.

To help us to provide the most appropriate special arrangements, all applications need to be submitted to us well in advance of the examination. Contact us before you complete your application to find out about the deadlines or if you have any doubts about what is required.

When should I apply for special arrangements?

Your application should be submitted to the British Council Examinations Services at least three months before the examination.

You can contact us before you apply to find out about the deadlines, or if you are feeling uncertain about what you will require.

Please note that delays caused by incomplete or unclear applications can make it impossible to authorise applications or dispatch modified materials in time.

For further information, please contact us:

Telephone 801 500 3692* & 210 369 2333
Email customerservices@britishcouncil.gr

We aim to answer all calls within 30 seconds and emails within one working day.

* Local rates apply

Candidates with learning difficulties

What special arrangements can you make for me?

There are several special arrangements we can organise for you. You or teacher should feel comfortable asking for any arrangements you need.

1. Extra time

You may need extra time to complete a paper. We can provide you with an extra 25% of the normal time. So, if a paper takes one hour, you will have an extra 15 minutes to complete it.

Please note we can extend the time for your exam beyond 25% if you or your teacher think you will need it. However, remember that too much extra time might make you very tired.

2. Supervised breaks

As well as, or instead of, extra time, we can provide you with supervised breaks. You can then stop writing and take a break alone in another room. You will be supervised during your break. This might help if you have difficulty concentrating.

3. Writing your answers

We can provide you with access to a computer, word-processor or typewriter if you normally write this way.

You will not be allowed to use the spell check, grammar check or thesaurus functions. If your centre does not have a computer, it may be possible for you to bring in your own.

Some things to bear in mind:

  • If you use a computer, you will have to sit alone in a separate room. We may not be able to accommodate this request, so please contact us in advance in order for us to do our best to help.
  • You will not be able to read out your answers to someone who writes them down for you. You must write your own answers.
  • You will not be able to use voice recognition software.

4. Reading the papers

Although it may take you longer to read the question papers, you are not allowed to have someone read out the papers to you and you are not allowed to use screen-reading software.

5. Having a copier (or transcriber)

If your handwriting is difficult to read, we can make a copy or transcript of your work. At the end of the exam you will read out your answers to the copier, including all the punctuation. The copier will then write down an exact copy of your answers, including any mistakes.

6. Help filling in your answer sheets

In most exams you have to copy or transfer your answers to a computer-marked answer sheet. If you find it difficult to follow the numbers or order of questions on a page, we can arrange for you to write your answers on a separate piece of paper or directly on to the question paper.

7. Transparent coloured overlays

We can arrange for you to use transparent coloured overlays if you normally use them.

8. Other equipment

Please contact us if you want to use any other type of equipment, like a screen magnifier.

Once we have agreed any of the above special arrangements with you, your answers will be marked in the same way as all other candidates.

What evidence will I need?

We support all requests for special arrangements made to Cambridge English. All applications need to be supported by medical evidence from an appropriately qualified practitioner.

The medical evidence:

  • must be legible
  • needs to contain a clear statement of your disability and make it clear how this relates to the special arrangements you are requesting
  • needs to be an original document on headed paper or with an official stamp and bearing the name, relevant qualification(s) and signature of a recognised practitioner.

If you have a learning disability, other criteria apply:

  • The medical evidence must be in the form of a report prepared no longer than two years before the date of the exam.
  • It must include details of the degree of disability.
  • It must include an assurance that the evidence of specific learning difficulties was obtained through the results of appropriate and recognised tests, and the tests used must be stated. The most universally applied tests are the Wechsler tests, although other tests may be equally acceptable.
  • The report must be provided by a fully qualified educational, clinical or chartered psychologist.
  • We will also ask for a sample of the candidate’s handwriting – so please submit a short essay written in English in your handwriting.

We will keep a record of medical evidence for a period of two years from the time it is submitted. If you take more than one exam within that time, you will not need to re-submit the medical evidence.

Candidates with hearing and/or speaking difficulties

What special arrangement can you make for me?

Several arrangements are available depending on the severity of your hearing and/or speaking difficulty. You or teacher should feel comfortable asking for any arrangements you need.

Listening test

For most Cambridge English exams, you have to take a Listening test. You read questions printed on a question paper. You then listen to a recording and write your answers on a separate answer sheet. Here are ways in which we can help you if you have hearing difficulties:

1. Hearing aids, headphones and other equipment

  • If you normally use a hearing aid, you can use it in the exam. Remember to tell your test centre before the test.
  • If you can hear with the help of headphones or special amplification equipment, you can ask to use this type of equipment.
  • The supervisor needs to be able to hear and control the recording. They will then listen to an external loudspeaker or use a second pair of headphones. You are not allowed to use a walkman or personal stereo.
  • If you are using special equipment, we will administer your exam in a separate room.

2. Lip-reading versions of Listening tests

If your condition is more severe, we can provide a lip-reading version of the Listening test. The supervisor will read out to you the same material that is on the CD. You will hear each text two or three times. The supervisor will stop reading from time to time during the second reading, so you can write your answers.

You need to be able to:

  • lip-read a person speaking English
  • practise with sample papers before the exam.

Speaking test

For most Cambridge English Speaking tests (except IELTS), you take the Speaking test with a partner. If you have hearing or speaking difficulties, we offer the following options:

  • Extra time to say things or understand what people say to you.
  • The choice of taking the test with a partner who is not a candidate (a dummy partner). This may help you to lip-read more easily.
  • The choice of taking the test without a partner using a single-format version of the exam. Instead of talking to another candidate, you will talk to the examiner.

You are not allowed to use signing in a Speaking test.

Exemptions and endorsed certificates

If you have severe hearing and/or speaking difficulties and these special arrangements are not enough, you may ask for exemption from taking either the Listening test or the Speaking test.

This means you do not have to take part either in the Listening test or in the Speaking test. Please be aware we can only give you exemption from one paper. (The exception is IELTS. See below for more information.)

  • If you are allowed exemption from either the Listening test or the Speaking test and pass the other parts of the exam, the following sentence will be on your certificate: ‘The candidate was exempt from satisfying the full range of assessment objectives in the examination.’  This is called an endorsement.
  • For IELTS, you can ask for exemption from one or two components and you will be given a notionalised score for the missing component(s). The score will be based on your performance on the other parts of the test. This notionalised score will be used to calculate your Overall IELTS Band Score. Your Test Report Form will have the following statement: ‘Due to extreme speaking/hearing difficulties, this candidate was exempt from the Speaking/Listening test(s). The Speaking/Listening test Band Score(s) has/have been notionalised on the basis of the average of the other two/three Band Scores.’

For all Cambridge English examinations, you must apply for exemption before taking an exam.

What evidence will I need?

We support all requests for special arrangements made to Cambridge English. All applications need to be supported by medical evidence from an appropriately qualified practitioner.

Here is some more information about the medical evidence we will need:

  • It must be legible so that we can easily read it.
  • If it is not written directly in English, we will need a translation from a lawyer or certified translator.
  • It needs to give a clear statement of your disability and explain how this relates to the special arrangements requested.
  • It needs to be an original document on headed paper or with an official stamp and bearing the name, relevant qualification(s) and signature of a doctor employed in a Greek Public hospital or relevant public health authority, such as IKA or TEBE.

We will keep a record of medical evidence for a period of two years from the time it is submitted. If you take more than one exam within that time, you will not need to re-submit the medical evidence.

Candidates with visual difficulties

What special arrangements can you make for me?

Several arrangements are available, depending on the severity of your problem.

1. Extra time

You may ask for extra time but remember that too much extra time may tire you.

You can also ask for supervised breaks in addition to the extra time you need.

2. Reading the question papers

If you are partially sighted, you may use the following equipment:

  • magnifying glass
  • stand-alone screen magnifiers
  • screen-reading software
  • closed-circuit television (CCTV)
  • hand-held scanning apparatus
  • a reader*.

* A reader is a person who reads the questions to you. In Reading papers, the reader won't read out texts to you and you may not use screen-reading software to do this.

3. Writing your answers

You may write your answers with the following:

  • a Braille keyboard
  • a Braille keyboard linked to a printer
  • a typewriter, computer or word-processor but you will not be allowed to use the spell check, grammar check or thesaurus functions
  • a person who writes your answers down for you.

4. Braille question papers

Please check with us if your exams are available in Braille. There are two kinds of grades of Braille:

  • uncontracted (or grade 1) comprising one symbol (or cell) for every letter.
  • contracted (or grade 2) single symbols which represent whole words or common clusters of letters.

Contracted Braille is quicker to read, but you need to be familiar with the symbols. Please specify which type of Braille you require.

5. Enlarged question papers

You can ask for two different kinds of enlarged question paper:

  • Type 1: You will receive A3-size question papers with enlarged questions but no changes to the layout or material. The print size is usually 15.5 point.
  • Type 2: We will take out any visual material which is not needed for answering the questions. We then make large-print versions of the papers in A4 size. The print size is 18 point bold. We can also help if you want even larger-sized print or reduced print question papers.

6. Special versions of Listening tests

In the Listening tests, you are asked to make notes while you listen to a recording on CD.

If you have visual difficulties, you will hear the same material and answer the same questions as other candidates, but the supervisor will stop the CD:

  • before each part to give you time to read the questions
  • at certain points to give you time to write the answers
  • after each part to give you time to check your answers.

7. Special versions of Speaking tests

For most exams (except IELTS), you must take the Speaking test with a partner. If you have visual difficulties, you can ask to:

  • have extra time
  • take the test with a partner who is not a candidate
  • take the test without a partner: instead of talking to another candidate, you will talk to the examiner
  • use verbal rather than visual material: we will give you enlarged copies of the pictures used or enlarged print versions of written descriptions of the pictures.

8. Having someone read to you or write down your answers

A reader will read the questions out to you, but will not explain the questions or give you advice. A reader is not allowed to read out the texts in a Reading test.

If you would like someone to write down your answers (amanuensis), you:

  • will be asked to spell certain words
  • must give the punctuation.

This person will read your answers back to you if you wish.

It is a good idea to practise before the exam.You can also use screen-reading software to read back your answers to you, but you must not use the spell check, grammar check or thesaurus functions.

What evidence will I need?

All applications need to be supported by medical evidence from an appropriately qualified practitioner.

  • It must be legible.
  • If it is not written in English, we will need a translation from a lawyer or certified translator.
  • It must give a clear statement of your disability and make it clear how the disability justifies the special arrangements requested.
  • It must be an original document on headed paper or with an official stamp and bearing the name, relevant qualification(s) and signature of a doctor employed in a Greek Public hospital or relevant public health authority (IKA, TEBE etc).

We will keep a record of medical evidence for a period of two years from the time it is submitted. If you take more than one exam within that time, you will not need to re-submit the medical evidence.