Exam Preparation

Many teenagers with autism are academically able, but will have difficulties with exams because they:

  • Feel anxious
  • Do not understand why they need to sit an exam
  • Do not understand exam questions
  • Have sensory issues and may not cope well with, for example a large exam hall
  • Have difficulty staying ‘on task’
  • May have difficulty with hand-writing
  • May find revision time or unstructured time difficult

For many teenagers, planning is essential for exam success. This planning process should begin as early as possible, may be as soon as the student starts in the school, teaching exam etiquette, using the 25% extra time and a quiet room are all contained within the reasonable adjustment.

Here are a few tips:

  • Preparation for Examinations (pptx)
  • Does the teenager with autism have to sit an exam or is there another way of assessment?
  • Be aware of hyperlexia (Hyperlexia means a person can read very well but finds it difficult to attach the appropriate meaning to the text – i.e., they don’t understand or comprehend the text well).
  • Ensure the level and language of the exam is suited to individual students.
  • Work with the teenager to devise a study plan
  • Teach the teenager how to study:
    • Experiment with different learning styles e.g. try listening to revision material; reading revision notes; making flash cards; verbally repeating revision materials etc.
    • Try revising in different environment e.g. revision clubs, using the school library, practicing with past exam papers, revision guides and computer programs.
  • Talk about what happens during exams (a social story may help)
  • Practice relaxation techniques to use before and after exams
  • Consider allowing the student to type answers or use voice activated software rather than handwrite them
  • Draw up a timetable showing when exams are taking place – keep it on display in your classroom
  • The special arrangements you can ask for include:
    • Extra time to complete exams
    • A smaller / quieter room (alone or as part of a small group of students)
    • To get exam papers in different formats, such as digital
    • Support teachers to act as prompts to keep pupils on task
  • Reward revision and reward participating in exams
  • Social story about taking exams (pdf)