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Learning difficulties

What do I need to do?

It may take three months for some special arrangements to be made for you, so you should make your application as soon as possible through your IELTS test center.
 
What will the IELTS test center do?

Your center will:

  • confirm the application deadline (this may be 3 months before your test, depending on the arrangements you need; typically from two weeks up to 3 months advance notice required)
  • ask for full details of your learning difficulty
  • make the arrangements you need to take the test

If your center does not have the equipment or space you need (e.g. a separate room), they will try to help you to find another center that does.
 
Your center may also ask you to provide a medical certificate.
 
What medical evidence must I have?

You must give the center a report about your learning difficulty:

  • written when you were aged 12 or older
  • with full details of your learning difficulty and tests which have been carried out
  • written by a fully qualified psychologist (educational, clinical or chartered).

If you do not have (or cannot get) a report like this, talk to your IELTS test center.
 
What special arrangements can I ask for?

There are lots of different options – choose what you need from the list below. You can then ask your center to make the arrangements you need.
 
Once you have received permission for any special arrangements mentioned below, your answers will be marked in the same way as all other test takers. For example, if you make a spelling or grammar mistake, you may lose marks.
 
1. Extra time

You may need extra time to complete a paper (e.g. if it takes you a long time to read the questions or texts, or write your answers).
You can normally ask for an extra 25% of the normal time for a paper. So, if a paper takes one hour, you will get an extra 15 minutes.
You can ask for more than 25% extra time if you think you will need it. Remember, however, that too much extra time may make you very tired.
You may also ask for a special version of a Listening test, which is a way of giving you extra time in the test. The supervisor will:
  • stop the CD before each part of the test to give you enough time to read the questions
  • stop the CD at certain points during each part to give you enough time to write one or more answers
  • stop the CD after each part to give you enough time to check your answers.

2. Supervised breaks

As well as (or instead of) extra time, you can ask for supervised breaks. This means you can stop writing and take a break alone in another room. This might help if you have difficulty concentrating for long periods. You will be supervised while you take your break.
 
3. Writing your answers using a computer

You can ask for permission to write your answers using a computer or word processor. You must not use the spellcheck, grammar check or thesaurus functions if you want to use a computer or word processor.
 
If you have permission to use a computer, remember:
  • Your center may not have equipment, such as a computer, that you can use. However, you may be able to use your own equipment. You must notify your test center at least 6 weeks prior to the test.
  • You will have to sit alone in a separate room. If your center does not have space for you to do the test with a computer, they will do their best to help you find another center where you can take the test.
  • You must write your own answers. You cannot read out your answers to someone who writes them down for you.
  • You cannot use voice recognition software (programs which turn speech into text).
4. Reading the question papers
You must read the question papers yourself. Although it may take you longer to read the question papers, you are not allowed to:
  • have someone read them to you (a reader)
  • use a computer with screen-reading software.

5. Having a copier (or transcriber)

If your handwriting is very difficult to read, you may ask your center to copy (make a transcript of) your work. This means that, at the end of the test, you will read out your answers to the copier, including all the punctuation. The copier will write down an exact copy of your answers, including any mistakes in grammar, spelling or punctuation.
 
6. Help filling in your answer sheets

In the IELTS listening and reading tests, you have to copy (transfer) your answers to an answer sheet which is then scanned by a computer. If you find it difficult to follow the numbers or order of questions on a page, you may be allowed to write your answers on a separate piece of paper or, sometimes, directly on to the question paper. Ask your center for advice prior to the test date.

7. Transparent colored overlays

You may ask for permission to use transparent colored overlays if you normally use them. You must notify your test center at least 6 weeks prior to the test.

8. You may apply for enlarged print copies of an exam paper

Enlarged print papers are also called ‘Modified Large Print’ papers. The question paper is modified, and anything which is not needed for answering the question – for example, frames around texts – is removed. All the words in these papers are in the same print size. They look like this:

Test image
Each page in these papers is A4 size.

9. Other equipment

Ask your IELTS test center if you want to use any other type of equipment, for example, a screen magnifier.