Undergraduate Examination Allowances colour blindness

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					    Undergraduate Examination Allowances:
         Information for Candidates

May 2009 Edition

Dear Student

This leaflet provides information about examination allowances and warnings explains what you
should do if you feel you been ill or had extenuating circumstances during or leading up to your
examinations. If you need special arrangements to take your examinations (such as extra time
or special equipment or facilities) you should also refer to the separate guidance note on
Special Examination Arrangements (

The procedures set out on the following pages relate to undergraduate examinations. If you are
a Graduate student, you should contact the Board of Graduate Studies or the Graduate Union
for information on the Procedures for Graduate examinations.

These notes have been prepared by the University in consultation with Cambridge University
Students’ Union (CUSU). These notes are for guidance only; if in any doubt, seek advice.

If you are ill or have extenuating circumstances which may affect your performance in an
examination, it is very important that you contact your College Tutor who will be able to offer
support and advice and may decide to apply on your behalf for an examination allowance

The University Counselling Service (Tel: (3)32965, email:
and the Disability Resource Centre (Tel: (3)32301, email: are
available to provide confidential help. Further advice and information can also be obtained from
the CUSU Academic Affairs Officer (Tel: (3)33313, email: or from
the appropriate officer of your College JCR.

                                                      Diane Rainsbury
Academic Affairs Officer                              Senior Assistant Registrary
Cambridge University Students’ Union                  University of Cambridge.

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What These Notes Cover

These guidelines describe the procedures relating to examination warnings and allowances for
undergraduate examinations, and examinations for the LL.M., M.B.A., and the M.Ed. Degrees,
and Diplomas and Certificates. See also the formal guidance issued by the Applications
Committee on Examination Allowances

At Cambridge, examinations are set and marked by Boards of Examiners appointed for each
subject. Examiners can award marks only on the basis of the work actually submitted to them.
The class awarded to a candidate depends on the rules adopted by each subject for converting
the marks gained for each paper into an overall class.

In some circumstances, allowances can be made to recognise special factors affecting a
candidate’s performance in examinations. The University Council has authority to grant
‘examination allowances’ and the procedure for considering such allowances is operated on the
Council’s behalf by the Applications Committee.

These guidelines are based on the formal University regulations relating to examination
allowances. Should you wish to consult the regulations, your College Office will have a
reference copy.

Extenuating circumstances
It is possible to take examinations under special conditions, for medical or other reasons,
because of illness or disability. Your College is responsible for applying to the University for
permission and the College (if you sit your examination in College) is then responsible for all the
logistical arrangements for you. It is important you allow sufficient time to discuss your
requirements with your Tutor. Sometimes you can be allowed to sit exams at other than the
prescribed period. Special arrangements include:
• Blindness or visual impairment: Braille versions of papers can be ordered, or papers can be
• Food and drink during examinations: if you have a medical condition that requires you to
    consume small quantities of food or drink at regular intervals during your examinations,
    special permission for this can be granted.
• Extra time: this if often allowed for candidates with a disability – poor vision,
    dyslexia/dysgraphia/dyspraxia, muscular dystrophy, arthritis, etc. Your Tutor will need to
    explain to the University why extra time is needed, and suggest a suitable amount. You may
    also be able to use a word-processor depending on your circumstances. If you are granted
    permission for extra WRITING time in your examinations, then you will be expected to take
    those examinations in the Designated Examination Centre (in the University Centre). If you
    are granted permission to use a computer in your examination then you will be expected to
    take those examinations in the Titan Suite (Computing Service). The Titan Suite is also able
    to accommodate those students who need extra time (but not rest breaks) as well as a
    computer. If you need extra time for rest breaks, unless you do not need to move around,
    you will be expected to take your examinations in College.
• Poor handwriting: if this is caused by a disability or medical reason, then word-processing or
    dictation may be allowed (practice of these methods is recommended beforehand). If your
    handwriting is bad, but you don’t have a specific disability, you will have to take
    examinations in the normal way. In certain circumstances the Examiners may ask for some
    of your scripts to be typed with your assistance; but you should not rely on this. The Board
    of Examinations will only allow a percentage of your scripts to be transcribed, e.g. 3 out of 5
    papers. You should assume that, if you do not write legibly, you will be at a severe

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•   Religious obligations: the University may allow you on religious grounds to sit your
    examinations at an alternative time to the published timetable where the scheduled
    examination coincides with a religious festival or observance day.

Who to contact.
If you have any difficulty preparing for or taking an examination, it is most important that you
contact your Tutor without delay. If you prefer not to approach your own Tutor, you may
approach any other Tutor or officer in your College to see advice. You may also contact CUSU
for advice and support.

Examination Warning
If you have been hindered in preparing for or taking your examinations because of illness or
disability, or because of some other grave cause such as family problems or bereavement, your
Tutor may submit an ‘examination warning’ to the Examiners.

The warning does not empower the Examiners to award you extra marks, but the regulations
allow for the following:
• In cases of dyslexia/dysgraphia/dyspraxia the Examiners will be invited not to penalise minor
    faults of grammar or spelling.
• If you are colour blind or have another serious visual handicap which might be relevant in
    certain practical examinations, the Examiners will be invited to make special arrangements
    for you in those examinations.
    In other cases such as illness or bereavement, if you have missed part of the examination
    but have performed with credit in a substantial part, the Examiners may award you
    unclassified honours by publishing your name under the heading ‘Declared to have
    deserved Honours’. They will do this if the class (if any) which you would have been
    awarded on the basis of your aggregate mark does not represent a fair reflection of the
    quality of your work as seen by the Examiners.
    If you have taken the whole of the examination and obtained insufficient marks to pass, the
    Examiners will report your performance to your College and to the University authorities.
    Your Tutor may then make an application to the University Council for an examination
• In the case of examinations for the Second and Final M.B. and Vet M.B. Degrees,
    dyslexia/dysgraphia/dyspraxia and colour blindness may be taken into account but the
    arrangements for examination warnings and allowances to not apply.

Examination Allowances
An examination allowance can mean the difference between a pass and a fail, or can improve
the class you are awarded. The Applications Committee carries out the procedure for granting
examination allowances. The Committee will consider the evidence submitted by your Tutor,
including any relevant medical reports and supervision reports.

If you have passed the examination but have been awarded a class that is demonstrably lower
than justified by your academic record, the Committee may withdraw your name from the class
list and ‘Declare you to have deserved Honours’. In the case of an honours examination, this
means awarding you honours without a specific class.

Alternatively, if you have missed or under-performed in a relatively small part of an examination
on account of illness or other grave cause, the Committee may authorise the Examiners to
classify you on the basis of your performance in only those parts of the examination which you
took without handicap. In this way the original out come of your examination may be improved.

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What do you need to do

Before Examination Results are Published
If you have been ill or have other extenuating circumstances which have affected your
examination preparation and performance you should contact your Tutor without delay.
Depending on the circumstances and gravity of the situation your Tutor may submit an
Examination Warning.

After Examination Results are Published
 If you were ill or had other extenuating circumstances which affected your examination
preparation and performance you should contact your Tutor who may apply on your behalf for
an examination allowance. Please be aware that the Committee will require any relevant
supporting medical evidence and it is therefore important that you obtain this information as
early as possible.

In every case, consult your Tutor without delay!

Some Common Questions

Can the Examiners be warned of a problem with my examinations?
Yes, by means of an ‘examination warning’. Note that the Examiners are not allowed to award
you extra marks, because they can award marks only on the basis of work actually submitted to
them. In most cases the procedure is relevant only if there is a risk of you failing the

On what grounds can I apply for an Examination Allowance?
Extenuating circumstances of any kind, in particular illness or bereavement. You may be
granted an examination allowance if you failed your examinations or you received a lower class
than anticipated. If you missed a relatively small part of the examination or achieved a lower
class in just one or two papers the Examiners may be given permission to raise your overall

When should I raise problems, and with whom?
It is vital that you contact your Tutor as soon as a problem or issue becomes apparent. If for
any reason you feel unable to raise a problem with your Tutor, speak to the Senior Tutor or
another Tutor or College Officer in your College or the CUSU Academic Affairs Officer. If your
problem is of a medical or similar nature, it is essential that you seek professional advice
(perhaps a doctor or counsellor, or the Disability Resource Centre) without delay.

If it turns out to be necessary for your case to be taken up on your behalf by your College, you
will then be able to offer proof of the nature of your illness or other disability. The officers of
CUSU or of your College JCR can provide information and advice, but your College Tutors are
the people empowered to approach the University authorities on your behalf in matters relating
to examination allowances.

Owing to extenuating circumstances, I got a much lower class than I feel I deserved. Is there
anything I can do?
Yes. Your Tutor may make an application to the Applications Committee for an examination
allowance, as described under the section on Examination Allowances. Further information is
given in the Committee’s Guidance Notes on Examination Allowances.

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What do I have to do if I am taken ill during revision or during the examination period?
If you are ill during your revision or during the examination period you should contact your Tutor.
Depending on the nature of your condition you may be entitled to extra time, sitting your
examinations in College or at a different time than scheduled. Similarly, if you are ill and are
having difficulty completing a project or dissertation you may apply for an extension. In both
cases you should also seek your doctor or College nurse so that someone has a record of your

In all instances, your Tutor is responsible for submitting an application together with any
supporting evidence on your behalf so you should contact your Tutor as soon as you are aware
that you may be in difficulty.

What should I do if I am ill on the day of an examination?
Even if you are ill on the day of the examination, it is usually possible to make appropriate
arrangements on your behalf. In all instances, you should contact your Tutor straightaway. You
should try and remain calm and remember that your Tutor is experienced in dealing with such
matters and will be able to reassure you. Any arrangements will depend on the nature and
severity of your condition but every effort will be made to enable you to take or complete your
examinations. However, if you are unable to sit any of your examinations your Tutor may apply
for an examination allowance. If you are ill during the exam, do not just leave, but alert the
Invigilator that you are ill and cannot carry on.

I have, or I think I have a Specific Learning Difficulty. What do I need to do?
If you are, or think you have, dyslexia/dysgraphia/dyspraxia you should notify your Tutor as
soon as you are aware of or suspect you may have such a condition. If you have not already
been assessed by an Educational Psychologist or accredited Specialist Teacher (for example
Patoss) you will need to arrange to do so. In such circumstances, you should contact the
Disability Resource Centre which will be able to make such arrangements on your behalf.

Your Tutor is responsible for applying for any special arrangements (such as extra time) in
which to complete your examination. In some instances, it may be necessary for you to use a
word-processor in your examinations. Your Tutor will need to apply for any special
examinations arrangements on your behalf which will need to include a diagnostic assessment
report from an Education Psychologist or Specialist Teacher.

If you suspect you may have a Specific Learning Difficulty it is in your own interests to be
assessed as soon as possible. An early diagnosis will enable your Tutor and Director of
Studies to arrange other forms of support throughout your studies at Cambridge.

Sources of Information and Support

University Counselling           Disability Resource               CUSU
Service                          Centre                            Old Examination Hall
17 Trumpington Street            Keynes’ House                     Free School Lane
Cambridge CB2 1QA                Trumpington Street                Cambridge CB2 3RF
Tel: 01223 (3)32965              Cambridge CB2 1QA                 Tel: 01223 33313
Reception@counselling.           Tel: 01223 (3)32301                             ucam-                   

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                                        Summary of Procedures

                                Contact your Tutor or another
                                   College Officer, or the
                               CUSU Academic Affairs Officer

Extenuating Circumstances                             Conduct of Examinations

Before the Examination
Where necessary, special
arrangements may be made for you
to take the examination in College.
Your Tutor may submit an
examination warning to the

After the Examination                                 Before examination results are
Your Tutor may apply to the                           published.
Applications Committee (acting on                     You or your Tutor may submit
behalf of the University Council) for                 representations to the Registrary
an examination allowance.                             within 3 working days of the
                                                      examination. The Registrary will refer
                                                      the matter to the Chairman of
                                                      Examiners for consideration before
                                                      the class list is published.

                                                      After examination results are
                                                      You, or your Tutor may submit
                                                      representations to the Registrary
                                                      within one month of class list posting.
                                                      The Registrary will refer the matter to
                                                      the Chairman of Examiners for

                                                      If you are dissatisfied with the
                                                      You may apply to the Registrary for
                                                      the matter to be considered by an
                                                      Examinations Review Committee
                                                      within 3 months of the response from
                                                      the Chairman of Examiners.

Allowances and warnings 09

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