Details of the "Special Circumstances" rules on the Cambridge website




What is assessed

Main relevant impairments:



Students read about 2,000 words and write 30 short answers to show their comprehension

1 hour

Ability to read different sorts of texts and find specific information or the overall ideas they contain.

Visual difficulties:

an extra 15 minutes, or these forms of AT to help reading:

  • magnifying glass

  • stand-alone screen magnifiers

  • screen-reading software

  • closed-circuit television (CCTV)

  • hand-held scanning apparatus.

A reader who will read out the questions (but not the texts)

Braille and enlarged print versions of the question paper are available.

Amanuensis or screen reading software for the answer sheet.

Learning difficulties:

Supervised breaks for people who find it hard to concentrate for long periods.

Centre may make a transcription if handwriting is VERY hard to read. Permission to write your answers using a computer, word-processor, or typewriter if you normally write this way, no voice recognition software

Permission to use coloured overlays

help with filling in the answer form.


Q1. write a letter or Email (120 – 150 words)

Q. 2 write another sort of text with a choice of questions (120 – 180 words)

1 hour 20 minutes (spend about half the time on each question)

Must answer all the points in the question in a comprehensible way, using some complex structures. Good answers will have mistakes only in “more difficult” structures.

Visual difficulties:

  • with a Braille keyboard optionally linked to a printer

  • word-processor, but NO spellcheck, grammar check or thesaurus functions

  • amanuensis.

As above.

Use of English

42 questions requiring short written answers, or shading boxes in a form.

45 minutes

Typical problem areas for this level in lexis and structures: collocations, words with subtle differences of meaning, phrasal verbs

As for reading and writing

As for reading and writing


Candidates hear recordings which are played twice with pauses and answer 40 questions about them.

40 minutes

Understanding speaking with different accents in different situations

Hearing difficulties:

  • permission to use hearing aids headphones

  • lip reading version of the test.

Visual difficulties: special version with extra pauses for reading questions, writing and checking.


Responding to spoken and visual prompts in conversation with another candidate and the examiner

14 minutes

Gramar and vocabulary, Discourse management, pronunciation and Interactive communication.

Hearing / speaking difficulties:

  • extra time

  • permission to take the test with a partner who is not a candidate or take it without a partner

Visual difficulties: enlarged versions of prompts or brailled descriptions of pictures.