Student Wellness Services

Student Wellness Services

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Memory Aids

Some students with disabilities are permitted, as an academic accommodation, to bring and use a memory aid during tests, midterms and exams. This accommodation appears on the student's letter of accommodation as: Permission to bring and use a memory aid, as pre-approved by the instructor.  

What is this accommodation used for?

Memory aids as an accommodation are intended to help students with documented impairments in rote memory, sequencing and/or long term memory to recall information that would be otherwise inaccessible in testing situations. The memory aid allows the student to demonstrate his or her mastery of the course material without taxing already compromised memory function. Designed and used properly, the memory aid assists the student by serving as a trigger for recalling and accessing information in testing situations aimed at assessing the student's mastery and understanding of the course material as opposed to what they have memorized.  

Who receives this accommodation?

Students seeking this accommodation must provide documented evidence of an impairment in rote memory, sequencing memory and/or long term memory.  These impairments are most often seen in students with head injuries, psychiatric disabilities, specific learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or other medical conditions.  Evidence of these memory impairments is usually obtained via psycho-educational or neuropsychological testing

How does this accommodation work?

  • Students prepare the memory aid and submit it to the instructor for approval at least 10 business days in advance of the exam/test/midterm
  • Instructors are not responsible for devising the memory aid
  • In-Class tests, exams, midterms - Instructor signs the memory aid, which the student then brings to the exam
  • Final Exams (administered by the Exams Office) - Instructor sends the approved memory aid to the Exams Office, along with the exam

Features of a Memory Aid

  • Double sided, 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper (handwritten or typed)
  • Contains acronyms, pictures, acrostics, visual chains, mnemonics or other symbols representing knowledge that assist the student in remembering and accessing memorized information.
  • Provides memory cues that the student associates with previously learned material
  • Only makes sense to the student and would not be useful as an answer sheet to other students in the course

What is not a Memory Aid?

  • a substitute for studying or exemption from mastering course material
  • full course notes, facts or concepts
  • study or answer sheet

In protecting and preserving academic integrity, instructors are within their right to disallow a memory aid should it represent a clear academic advantage for the student. A memory aid can also be disallowed in testing situations where it is clearly stated that rote memory is being assessed (e.g., evaluating students' recall of certain isolated terms or facts).

Students and Instructors are encouraged to contact QSAS with any questions or concerns about the use of memory aids as an accommodation