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Coping with Exams with a Disability

  May 16, 2017   

A guest blog from Roseanna Feltham-King, psychology student at Oxford Brookes

It’s that time of year again. The library is packed, everyone is frantic, and coffee consumption has tripled. Exams can be stressful for anyone, but for students with disabilities there are often extra challenges to navigate.

Here are some of my top tips for how to deal with exams as a disabled student.

Use the adjustments that you are entitled to

Find out what alternative exam provision you are entitled to and then use them. This could include things like a quieter room, extra time, a different type of chair, use of a computer or rest breaks. Talk to your disability adviser in advance to get things into place in time. These things are not provided to give disabled students special treatment, they’re there to level the playing field, so use them without guilt.

Study well

By this time in the year you probably have a pretty good idea of how you work best. Stick with what works for you, even if your studying looks different to someone else’s. For example, I study best in my bed, because wasting energy getting up isn’t what I want to do during exams. However, if you have insomnia, that wouldn’t be the best idea. Make a detailed revision checklist, not a revision timetable. Any number of things could affect a strict schedule, so avoid putting undue pressure on yourself.

Look after yourself

Make some nutritious meals in advance that will feed your body and brain. Make sure you have any medications that you need and take them on time. Take breaks because preventing stress and exhaustion is easier than trying to deal with that during exams.

Plan ahead!

This might sound counter intuitive, but find out what the worst case exam scenario is, and then plan ways that you could deal with it. Don’t be afraid to let the relevant people know if your disability is affecting, or likely to affect, your exam performance in a way that you can’t reasonably accommodate.

Maintain perspective

Take some breaks from studying because your mental and physical health should always come before grades. Nothing makes you lose perspective like an all-nighter, so make sure you get enough sleep. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and take some deep breaths. You are going to get through this.


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