With summer exams just around the corner, it’s important that teachers/tutors provide as much help and support in the run-up to this stressful time (to enable dyslexic students to cope and achieve in their exams).

This article provides some top tips to support dyslexic students with their exam preparation and outlines how assistive software, like Read&Write Gold, can help students with their revision.


Early planning – The Exam Timetable
Many students find exams and exam preparation difficult and stressful, but this time can be even more stressful for dyslexic students.  It’s important for teachers/tutors to encourage students to plan and organise their revision time.

To relieve the pressure of exam preparation dyslexic students should allow extra time for their revision – so be sure to advise them to start their revision early.  Creating and sticking to a revision timetable is always a useful coping strategy, allocating time for each exam topic and helping students to stay focussed.

Organise revision notes
Teachers/tutors should also encourage their students to organise their revision materials/study notes.  One way to make these more manageable is to colour code any paper notes.

This coloured highlighting system is also available within Texthelp’s literacy support software,Read&Write Gold.  The study skills features in the software allows students to gather information using coloured highlighters, from multiple sources e.g. Internet Explorer and Microsoft Word.  This text can then be collated into a single Microsoft Word revision document, with a bibliography automatically created.

Memorising revision notes
Many dyslexic students enjoy using mind-mapping tools when revising, to help with remembering key words and ideas.  The fact mapper tool in Read&Write Gold is perfect when brainstorming and mapping out ideas, for revision.  This feature allows students to build their own visual mind map, adding elements, sticky notes and imagery (which is great for visual learners).

Reduce the revision workload
Reading is a fundamental part of revision, but for dyslexic students revision requires a lot of reading and re-reading of text to decode it.  This increases the typical workload for a dyslexic student when preparing for their exams and can increase their stress levels.

Many dyslexic students are multi-sensory learners and benefit from listening to their revision notes rather than reading them.  Read&Write Gold’s core text-to-speech feature can be used to read any text aloud on a PC/Mac, for example, in MS Word, on the internet or in pdf documents and allows the student to listen to their revision notes rather than having to keep re-reading them.

Concentration and visual stress
If a student has trouble with reading, it may be because of visual discomfort and distortion of print on the page/computer.  A white page may glare, causing eye-strain or headaches; words may appear to move, to jumble or to blur.  All of this interferes with reading and affects attention and concentration.  Coloured overlays can be used with any hand-written revision notes and students can experiment to see which colour works best for them.
Read&Write Gold has a screen masking feature which allows the student to tint the entire screen on a PC/Mac and reduces the glare and visual discomfort, enabling those with Irlen Syndrome, for example, to be able to concentrate on their revision notes for longer.

Exam Conditions/Readers
Many dyslexic students will be allowed a human reader/scribe in their exam to assist them.  However, recent changes to JCQ Exam Access Arrangements now allow for a computer reader to be used in place of a human reader, to read any text in the exam papers aloud.  This enables students to be independent and reduces their stress levels, as they no longer have to feel embarrassed or afraid to ask for help.

Encouragement and coping strategies
Encouragement and support from tutors, friends and family is invaluable, enabling students to blossom academically and to achieve their goals.  It’s also important for teachers/tutors to help dyslexic students recognise and build on their coping strategies in order for them to progress and do well in their exams and beyond.

You can read more about Read&Write Gold here or to find out more about how Read&Write Gold can be used in exams click here. For further information you can also contact Texthelp by email:education@texthelp.com or tel: 028 9442 8105.