Guidance on GCSE Exam Concessions

Examination Access Arrangements for learners of English as an additional language

The Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) has released updated examination access regulations with effect from the 1st September 2017 to 31st August 2018. Within these regulations, there are some key points to consider for students for whom English is an Additional Language (EAL).

Bilingual translation dictionaries

Bilingual dictionaries can be used by candidates in certain exams if necessary, where this reflects the ‘candidate’s normal way of working’ (section 5.18.1, page 71). The centre does not need to make an application for this or record the use of the dictionary. The bilingual dictionary used can be electronic or a hard copy paper version but must not define words or phrases. Reading pens, translators (including web based translators), wordlists or glossaries cannot be used. In addition, the bilingual translation dictionary must not have pictures or any form of explanation of the words in (it must be just a direct translation of a word from English to another language) (section 5.18.2, page 72).

There are particular examinations in which dictionaries must not be used in, including English Language examinations, as well as in GCSE English Literature, Geography, History and Religious Studies (section 5.18.1, page 71). However, there are particular language subjects where candidates can have access to a bilingual dictionary, including Functional Skills English examinations and writing tests in GCSE subjects including GCSE Arabic, GCSE Bengali and GCSE Dutch (section 5.18.1, page 71).

Extra time for using bilingual translation dictionaries

Candidates who are allowed to use bilingual translation dictionaries may also be entitled to up to 10% extra time if they have been resident in the UK for less than three years at the time of the examination and have ‘no prior knowledge of the English Language’ (section 5.18.5, page 73). However, the regulations stipulate that extra time will only be awarded in rare and exceptional circumstances (section 5.18.5, page 73). In addition, the regulations state that ‘very few bilingual translation dictionary users will need to have extra time’ (section 5.18.5, page 73). The regulations specify that centres should consider the amount of extra time (up to a maximum of 10%) a candidate should have, ‘depending on need’ (section 5.18.5, page 73) and if the candidate uses the ‘bilingual translation dictionary so that examination time is used for this purpose’ (section 5.18.7, page 73).

Extra time must only be awarded to a candidate when using a bilingual translation dictionary if all of the following stipulations are met:

  • the candidate’s first language is not English, Irish or Welsh;
  • the candidate entered the United Kingdom within three years of the examination(s) with no prior knowledge of the English Language;
  • English is not one of the languages spoken in the family home;
  • prior to their arrival in the United Kingdom the candidate was not educated in an International school where some or the entire curriculum was delivered in English;
  • prior to their arrival in the United Kingdom the candidate was not prepared for or entered for IGCSE qualifications where the question papers were set in English;
  • prior to their arrival in the United Kingdom the candidate was not prepared in English for other qualifications. e.g. IELTS qualifications, Preliminary English Tests;
  • the candidate has to refer to the bilingual translation dictionary so often that examination time is used for this purpose, delaying the answering of questions;
  • the provision of 10% extra time reflects the candidate’s usual way of working with the dictionary’ (section 5.18.7, page 73).

The SENCo or EAL Co-ordinator must compile evidence to confirm all of the above criteria and an application must be made for a candidate to have extra time.

The regulations make it clear that ‘extra time must not be awarded to a candidate using a bilingual translation dictionary in order to compensate for difficulties in reading and writing in English’ (section 5.18.8, page 73).

Access Arrangements and Reasonable Adjustments 2017-2018