Student Wellness Services

Student Wellness Services

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Memory Aid

The memory aid accommodation refers to information that students whose memory retrieval is impaired due to a disability are permitted to bring and use during an exam/midterm/in-class test/quiz. A memory aid includes information to which other students writing the same exam do not have access. All memory aids must be reviewed and approved by instructors (see below).

There are two types of memory aids for which student may be approved as an accommodation:

Cue Sheet - a document containing information that serves as “triggers” to help cue a student’s recall of previously learned information.

Formula Sheet – a document containing formulae. Formulae refers to a set of rules or principles that are expressed using symbols, figures, or both. Students are permitted a formula sheet only on exams or tests that test students on their use and application of formula. Instructors may not permit students the use of formula sheets on exams that evaluate student’s recall of formulae itself.

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.  "Cue Sheet", "Formula Sheet" or both will be specified on the student's letter.  

The Memory Aid Accommodation is not:

  • a substitute for studying or exemption from mastering course material
  • answers to exam or test questions, a study or answer sheet
  • course notes or copies of course slides
  • lists of specific facts, details, or concepts upon which students are being tested for their recall

Who receives the Memory Aid Accommodation?

Students with neurological impairment that interferes with their spontaneous retrieval of learned information may be approved for this accommodation.

Students seeking this accommodation must provide documentation that includes the following:

  1. Validated measures of performance validity
  2. Memory assessment that:
    • Demonstrates actual learning of information took place
    • Requires the student to recall the learned information after a standardized period of time
    • Confirms that the student failed to retrieve the learned information
    • Confirms that the student could recall it when given cues
    • Confirms that the difference between the student’s spontaneous recall and cued recall is significantly larger than it is for other students (e.g., normed comparisons)

Working Memory:  Low scores on measures of “working memory” and “auditory working memory” are not sufficient evidence to support the need for a memory aid accommodation. Working memory does not require actual storage of information. Auditory working memory does not require the transferral of temporarily-held information into long-term storage.

Students and their health care providers are encouraged to consult the Guidelines for Memory Aids prepared by the Regional Assessment & Resource Centre. These guidelines detail information about assessments and measures that should be administered in support of this accommodation at Queen’s University.

How Does This Accommodation Work?

Students approved for this accommodation are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with the QSAS Learning Strategist, Gail Eaton-Smith, for guidance on how to create a memory aid. Students can book this appointment by calling 613-533-2506.

All memory aids must be reviewed and approved by the course instructor before the student can bring it into the exam venue.

Student must submit their memory aid to their instructor for review and approval at least 10 business days* in advance of the exam/test/midterm.

*For Spring, Summer and/or other condensed terms or courses, the student and professor may need to negotiate a different but reasonable timeline for review of the memory aid in time for scheduled tests, midterms, or exams.

NOTE:  Instructors are within their right to disallow a student the use of a memory aid that presents any risk to academic integrity, or if they were not given sufficient time for review.

Students and Instructors should note the following steps in preparing for the Memory Aid Accommodation:

Mid-terms, In-Class Tests, or Quizzes administered by the instructor or TA

  • Student creates and submits the memory aid to instructor 10 business days in advance of the exam date
  • Instructor reviews, approves and signs the memory aid; returns it to the student
  • Student brings the original signed memory aid to the exam

Final Exams administered by the Exams Office

  • Student creates and submits the memory aid to instructor 10 business days in advance of exam date
  • Instructor reviews, approves, signs, and sends approved memory aid directly to the Exams Office
  • The approved memory aid, along with all other exam materials, is provided to the student in the accommodated exam venue.

Features of a Memory Aid

Cue Sheet

Students must ensure that their cue sheet meets the following guidelines:

  • Double sided, 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper (handwritten or typed)
  • 12 point font or larger
  • Written in English (unless course appropriate)
  • Provides cues ("triggers") the student developed from the course material to assist in the recall of previously learned information
  • May include acronyms, pictures, acrostics, visual chains, mnemonics, mind maps, diagrams, or other symbols
  • May be organized in a variety of ways, including chronologically, by modules, themes, chapters, theories, and applications
  • Includes only cues to learned information that the student cannot retrieve
  • Only makes sense to the student; typically would not be useful to other students in the course

How to Create a Cue Sheet (PDF, 352KB)

Cue Sheet Examples: Example 1 (PDF, 48KB) and Example 2 (PDF, 72KB).

Formulae Sheet

Students must ensure that their formulae sheet meets the following guidelines:

  • Double sided, 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper (handwritten or typed)
  • 12 point font or larger
  • May be organized in a variety of ways, including chronologically, by modules, themes or chapters
  • Includes only the formulae covered within the test material
  • Does NOT include cue or notes on how/when to apply the formulae
  • Does NOT include cues or notes, beside specific formulae, regarding any of the other material being tested

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