Exam scribes

If you are unable to write or you have severe difficulties in producing acceptable and legible text, we can arrange for a scribe (sometimes called an amanuensis) to write down your answers during exams.

The scribe cannot give you any help with an exam question or answer - the answers must be written down in your own words.

If you are using a scribe for your exams, here is some advice for working with them. These are not University regulations.

Before examinations

  • It is important, where possible, to prepare in advance
  • If you are not used to dictating, you will need to practise. Ideally you would practise with your scribe, but this is not always possible, so practice with a friend or use a tape recorder. Practise dictating mock exam answers. 

During examinations

  • Making use of a scribe will slow down the writing process. This will have been taken into consideration when your individual exam arrangements were organised, you probably will have been awarded extra time. You may use the extra time in whichever way you wish, but the scribe will only write for the stated length of the exam. 
  • It is a good idea to discuss timing with the scribe beforehand. Tell them if you are taking the extra time in stages (eg at the end of every question) or at the end of the exam.  
  • If possible, sit in a position where you can see what your scribe is writing.
  • Have a drink to hand – dictating is thirsty work!
  • When dictating, use short sentences, as this makes it easier for the scribe and helps you to keep track of your train of thought.
  • You will need to dictate punctuation as well – incorrectly placed punctuation can change the meaning of your answer.
  • You might find it helpful to dictate or write a concise plan of the answer or some brief notes before starting. Do this on a separate piece of paper and refer to it regularly. Ask your scribe to read it to you if necessary.
  • At intervals, either check or ask the scribe to read out what they have written. You will need to correct any errors so do not be afraid to ask your scribe to cross something out and dictate it again. Reading back from time to time is another method that helps to keep track of what you have said.
  • Don't worry about having periods of silence when you are not dictating. You will need time to gather your thoughts and decide how best to express them.

Read our guidelines for exam scribes.

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