Coronavirus AEAs update 2021/22

Disability Services is working with colleagues in Schools and Faculties to ensure that disabled students who have a Disability Support Summary (DSS) receive the Alternative Exam Arrangements (AEAs) in their DSS for online assessments.

*** Please read the latest updates on the Alternative Exam Arrangements (AEAs) and online assessments 2021/22.  *** 

If you are sitting your exams remotely, here are some tips for setting up an exam venue at home:

Frequently asked questions

I usually get extra time for exams. Will I still get extra time?

How your extra time is allocated will vary depending on the assessment format your School is using. Please check with your school if you are not sure what the assessment format will be. 

If your School has organised a timed exam of, for example, from two-and-a-half to five hours, it is likely that your extra time will be added.

How does extra time work in practice?

‘Standard’ exam time 4 hours
AEA recommends 25% extra time 4 hours x 25% = 1 hour
New exam time 5 hours

You will be advised of how much time you have when you receive your exam timetable.

For coursework-based assessments, AEAs will not apply as these are not exams. For coursework, you can request a coursework extension if you need more time. It is important to check whether you assessment is a coursework based assessment or a timed assessment or exam. As outlined in the policy, timed assessments can be deferred due to absence, but are not eligible for extensions. Where you can see all your assessments in eVision, via MyBristol, timed assessments will be updated to show as type: ‘Timed Assessment’ or ‘Exam’. Where assessment information is held locally, your School will have provided this information.

Please check your emails for updates. If you are still unsure, check with your School Office, Personal Tutor or School Disability Coordinator to find out if extension requests are possible for your assessment.

I have rest breaks. How will this work?

If your timed assessment is 24 hours or longer, rest breaks will work like extra time (see the answer to the above question). The amount of time your School has set for the assessment allows for extra time or rest breaks. Take breaks as and when you feel you need them. If you will be sitting a shorter timed exam (two to five hours, for example), your School will give you guidance on how the AEAs in your DSS apply to your take home exam.

If you regularly use apps to help maintain your mental health, such as Calm, Thrive, or Mindspace, you may be able to use these if you feel you are becoming anxious during your assessment. If you are undertaking an invigilated exam (see information below about online proctoring) you may not be permitted to use your phone to access these apps. As an alternative, you may prefer to prepare and practice some mindfulness or breathing exercises that you can do in your head, without guidance. Check with your department if you are not sure whether you will be permitted to use a mental health app during your exam.

If you usually have breaks to eat or take medication, you can reduce stress by making sure you have snacks or medication to hand for when you take your break.

My department are using online proctoring (invigilation) software. What does this mean for my AEAs?

If your department are using online proctoring (invigilation) software you will have been advised of this.

Your department will advise you about how the software will work and what actions are, and are not, permitted during your exam. These types of exams are usually 'closed book' exams, which means that you are usually not permitted to bring notes, books, or guides. Check your course information on Blackboard and your emails for updates and advice.

If you are still not sure how the software may impact on how you will use the AEAs outlined in your Disability Support Summary (DSS), please check in with your School. If you are not sure who to contact at your School, please start with your School Disability Coordinator (SDC). The SDC table is searchable – so if you start typing the name of your School in the box at the top of the table, your SDC should display for you.

I would not usually have access to my assistive software during an exam. Is it okay if I use it for these assessments?

Where permitted, we strongly encourage students who would usually use assistive software when preparing coursework to use it during their take-home assessments. This is one of the benefits of a take-home assessment.

If your exams will be invigilated with online proctoring software however, you may need special permission to be able to use your assistive software. Please check with your School Disability Coordinator (SDC).

I usually have an exam support worker (such as a Reader, Scribe or Prompter). Will I still get this support?

We are recommending that students use assistive software instead of their usual support worker. Students who have assistive software (such as Dragon, TextHelp, ClaroRead or other programmes that have been awarded to them through Disabled Students’ Allowances) should use this software. If you do not have access to DSAs-funded technology, we have given some examples of free software you can use below.

If you usually have a Reader, you could use the Read Aloud function in Microsoft Word. You may also find the Immersive Reader functionality helpful. You could also try free software like NaturalReaders, Panopreter Basic or WordTalk.

If you usually have a Scribe, you could use the Dictate function in Microsoft Word. For other options, you could try Otter Basic, or Speechnotes.

If you usually have a Prompter, you may want to try setting alerts or reminders in an electronic calendar. For example, you could set yourself a calendar reminder for every 20-30 minutes to prompt you of how much time has passed or remind you to move on if your assessment has multiple questions to answer. For example, you could use your University Outlook calendar for this. If you are living with family or friends who might be able to help you, you could also ask them to check in on you during the assessment to prompt you.

If you will be using tools that are new to you, we recommend you put aside some time to practice with them. Visit here for some useful videos about using some of the accessibility functions in Microsoft Word.

Our examples of free tools you can try are just suggestions. We have no recommendations for which are the best to use and there are also other options out there. We recommend you find what works for you.

If none of the above options work for you, you should contact Disability Services as soon as possible.

I have not been able to set up a good environment to undertake my assessment and it has affected my performance. What should I do?

We have made recommendations (above) about how to prepare for your assessment, but many students may still find that their home set-up has distractions or challenges that are beyond their control. You can still submit Extenuating Circumstances (ECs).

How can I contact Disability Services?

The best way to get in touch with us is by email

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