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Reasonable Accommodations at State Examinations 2023 (RACE)

The purpose of the RACE scheme is to allow candidates who have special educational needs that interfere with their capacity to engage with the standard state examination arrangements to demonstrate what they know and can do, without compromising the integrity of the state examination. These arrangements are available for the Leaving Certificate examinations, Leaving Certificate Applied examinations and the Junior Cycle examinations.

The Examinations Commission provides full guideline booklets for both parents/students and for schools - you will find links to these at the bottom of this article.

Below is a summary of some of the main entitlements and timelines.

Range of Accommodations :

The four main grounds for which accommodations will be considered are:
  • Learning Difficulty
  • Hearing Difficulty
  • Visual Difficulty
  • Physical Difficulty
Examples of accommodations available include enlarged or Braille versions of questions, voice-activated computers, reading pens, assistive technologies, while taking the state examinations. Further examples of possible accommodations are listed under the 'Application Process' section below.

Application Process

The school must apply for reasonable accommodations on behalf of the student after a successful assessment of eligibility. The Examinations Commission cannot accept an application directly from you or your
parents, unless you are an external candidate with no links to any school or centre. If you feel your son or daughter might be eligible for reasonable accommodations, it is important to raise the matter with the school at an early date as there are closing dates and time frames which must be adhered to.

The State Examination Commission (SEC) will review applications received from the school on an individual basis and will make a decision on eligibility for the scheme. The SEC will have the final decision on whether candidates are eligible for the RACE scheme.

Written decisions will be provided to the school and to the candidates. If the candidate is unsuccessful in their application, then a reason will be provided by the SEC. If the candidate is not satisfied with the decision of the SEC, appeals can be made to the Independent Appeals Committee. Those unsatisfied with the outcome of the Appeal will have recourse to appeal to the offices of the Ombudsman or Ombudsman for Children.

In many cases, if you need some special access arrangements for your Junior Cycle, you will need them again for the Leaving Certificate examinations. Because of this, there is a straightforward procedure for getting the same arrangements.

Types of Accommodations Available

Accessing Print for Visual Impairment and/or Learning Difficulty

There are a number of accessible arrangements available from enlarged print, modified papers with graphs etc simplified to braille and colour identifier.

Enlarged examination paper - The standard version of the examination paper is enlarged from A4 to A3 size.

Modified examination paper - The standard paper is modified to make it accessible to people with severe visual impairments.

Braille examination paper - A copy of the examination paper that is produced in braille format. Tactile diagrams with braille labelling are also provided where necessary.

Reader/reading assistance - A person who reads some or all of the question paper for you. They read only what you ask them to read.

Exam reading pen - An exam reading pen is a small hand-held device which you can use to scan words, phrases or sections of the examination paper and have the text converted to speech which you listen to using ear-phones.

Colour identifier - Candidates who are colour blind may need a colour identifier. This is a person available to help, most likely in the Geography and Science examinations, but also as the need arises in other subjects.

Assistive technology - The technology you are allowed to use will depend on what you are used to using in school and what you are eligible for.

Accommodations for Accessing Sound

Preferred location within the centre - The school arranges for you to be placed close to the superintendent.

Personal sound device in main centre - Headphones with a personal sound device for aurals.

Special centre for aural examination - For the aural (listening comprehension) part of a language examination, you are allowed to use a personal sound device (CD player), with or without individual headphones, in a special centre with other students or, exceptionally, in an individual special centre.

Modified aural examination – You have a face-to-face session with an examiner rather than a sound device.

Exemption from aural component – language subjects - If there are genuine reasons why a modified aural examination cannot be carried out, you may be granted an exemption from the aural component.

Oral for hearing-impaired candidates - For the oral component of the examination, the examiner is told of your hearing impairment and can arrange for the lighting and positioning that you need to help you lip-read.

Exemption from oral component - If there are genuine reasons why an oral for hearing-impaired candidates cannot be carried out, you may be granted an exemption from the oral component.

Sign language interpreter* - You can have a sign language interpreter if you have both a hearing impairment and a reading difficulty.

Accommodations for Communication Difficulties

Waiver from the assessment of aspects of spelling, grammar, and punctuation in language subjects - You are not penalised for errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation in English, Irish and foreign language examinations.
Word processor with spell check enabled - Instead of writing your answers, you type them on a laptop or other word processing device.

Word processor with speech-to-text software - Instead of writing your answers, you say them into a laptop with software that can convert your speech into text.

Recording device - Instead of writing your answers, you say them into a digital or other recording device.

Scribe - Instead of writing your answers, you say them to someone who writes them down.

Drawing aids - If an injury or other condition means that you have difficulty using a tee-square or other drawing tools normally used in technological subjects, you may be allowed to use drawing aids such as parallel-motion boards and smaller drawing sheets in the Junior Cycle subjects Graphics and Wood Technology and in the Leaving Certificate subjects DCG, Construction Studies and Technology.

Exemption from Practical Test or Project in Junior Cycle Home Economics - If you have a physical condition that prevents you from taking part in the Food and Culinary Skills Examination (the practical test) in Junior Cycle Home Economics, you can get an exemption from it. Similarly, if you have a condition that means that you cannot do any of the three options in Optional Study (the project), you can get an exemption from this.

The environment and timing for examinations can also be arranged for examinations.

Please note all information above is a summary of the information provided in the RACE Guide for Students.

If you need more information, you should talk to the teacher in your school who deals with the Examination Commission. This is often the learning support teacher.
You may also find additional information on the Examinations Commission website here