Student Wellness Services

Student Wellness Services

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Exam Accommodations

QSAS provides the following guidance for instructors and students in arranging exam accommodations as written on a student's Letter of Accommodation, or adjusting them appropriately for an online context.   

Communicating Accommodation Information

Students are responsible for informing instructors about their need for accommodation.  Students must download their Letter of Accommodation and send it to their instructor or point person in their department or faculty.  

Exam Accommodations in a Modified Context - QSAS Guidance

The following sections list most exam accommodations typically approved for students with disabilities who are registered with QSAS, with guidance for instructors and students on arranging these accommodations for online delivery.

Students and instructors should contact the student's QSAS advisor with any questions about accommodations, appropriate adjustments, or other solutions needed to meet a student's access needs.  Please contact the QSAS Intake Coordinator if the student's QSAS advisor is unknown.  

NOTE:  The accommodations listed below are professionally assessed by QSAS advisors and approved for students with disabilities on an individualized basis.  Academic accommodations are specific to three factors:  (a) a student's functional limitations stemming from their disability as verified by disability documentation, (b) the student's own experience of their disability at university, and, (c) the academic requirements of their course or program


Extra Time

Regular Timed Assessments (e.g., 3-hour exam) - Instructors must add the exact amount of extra time specified for each individual student. For example, students approved for 15 minutes extra time per 1-hour exam would receive an additional 45 minutes for a 3-hour exam.

Regular Timed Assessments with Restricted Open/Closed Periods (e.g., 3-hour exam to be completed in 24- or 72-hour period) - Instructors must add the amount of extra time specified for each individual students. For example, students approved for 15 minutes extra time per 1-hour exam would receive an extra 45 minutes for a 3-hour exam.

Students with accommodations would receive the same amount of time assigned for the open/closed periods as all other students (e.g., 24 or 72 hours).

Extended Timed Assessments (e.g., students have 24 or 72 hours to complete a typical 3-hour exam), or Take Home Exams

No extra time is required for this type of assessment since access issues pertaining to tight time restrictions specific to a disability have been removed.

Universal Design for Learning & Extra Time

Some programs and faculties are applying universal design for learning (UDL) principles to their exams in the COVID-19 context. For example, one faculty is adding 3 hours to their regular 3-hour exams. Now, all students will have 6 hours, or double time, to complete their exams. This approach eliminates the need for instructors to add additional time for individual students as specified in their LoA. Instead, the exam is now universally accessible to all students timewise, including students with disabilities.

More information about using UDL in meeting extra time needs for students with disabilities is available at Accommodations-Extra time on Exams.

NOTE: Instructors should familiarize themselves well in advance of exam dates on how to change time provisions for individual students within the specific learning platform being employed.

Other Time-Related Accommodations

Extra Time Between Exams (e.g., one exam per calendar day, 24 or 48 hours between the start of exams)

Exams will take place on the day and time as indicated in the official April 2020 final exam session published by the Exams Office. Students should review this schedule in SOLUS as soon as possible.

If a student identifies an exam scheduling conflict that directly contradicts this accommodation, they must immediately email their instructors, and copy their QSAS advisor. Instructors are expected to work with students, QSAS, and other instructors to meet this accommodation. This includes nudging exams ahead (e.g., to the next morning or one day ahead) as necessary.

Time of Day Restrictions (e.g., no morning exam or no evening exams)

Same guidance as issued for Extra Time Between Exams(see above).

Split Exams

This accommodation applies only to exams administered in a time-restriction fashion (e.g., 3-hours).

Considering academic requirements and test design, the instructor is required to split the exam into two (2) parts that require an approximately equal amount of time to complete. The instructor must also set up (2) exam sessions. The student completes one part of the exam in each of the two sessions.

While completing one part, the student typically does not have access to the other part of the exam. However, this is at the instructor's discretion.

Room Size

Private, Semi-Private, Small Classroom

Students are responsible for securing space within their home or other permissible setting suitable for completing their exams online.

Completing exams at home will require adjustments for some students, especially those used to the private room exam setting at Queen's.

Students are encouraged to be creative in securing space in their home or other permissible location suitable for completing their course requirements and exams. Students may find the following tips/strategies helpful:

  • If you have a private room at home (e.g., bedroom), create a study-specific space separate from the sleeping area. Re-arrange furniture if necessary. Keep your study space decluttered, tidy, and work-ready for use each day.
  • If you share a room, agree with roommate(s) on a temporary furniture arrangement to create a study space.
  • Agree with your roommate(s) on a schedule of private use periods for each of you throughout the day. Be sure to schedule your times around your exams or when other concentration-heavy work is due.
  • Wear ear plugs or headphones or listen to calming music at low volume to reduce distractions. Avoid distracting yourself! Turn off your phone and log out of your social media accounts.
  • Alert others in the home of upcoming exam dates/times right away. Post these in a place where everyone can see.
  • Actively secure cooperation from housemates about minimizing distractions during these times. Brainstorm ahead about activities housemates can do to reduce distractions while you complete your exams.
  • If internet reliability worsens when more devices are in use, secure cooperation by housemates to reduce their internet use during your exam periods.
Physical Space

Accommodations related to physical space may include seating near a window or other natural light source, dimmed lighting, or no florescent lighting.

Students are responsible for securing space within their home or other permissible setting with these features suitable for completing their exams remotely.

Health-Related Activities or Aids

Stretch, Rest, or Restroom Breaks

Time for breaks is already included in the extra time indicated in the student's exam accommodation. For time-restricted exams, instructors must add the amount of extra time specified to the amount allocated for the exam (e.g., 45 additional minutes to a 3-hour exams for students approved for 15 minutes extra time per 1-hour exam).

Students are expected to self-monitor their use of time for breaks during the exam.

Additional time for breaks is not required for exams with open time restrictions (e.g., 24 or 72 hours to complete a 3-hour exam).

Permission to Monitor a Health Condition or Take Medication (e.g., using a glucometer to check glucose levels.)  This accommodation may also include permission to eat or drink during an exam.

Extra time for these activities is included in a student's extra time when necessary. For time-restricted exams, instructors must add the amount of extra time specified to the amount of time allocated for the exam (e.g., 45 additional minutes to a 3-hour exam for students approved for 15 minutes extra time per 1-hour exam).

Additional time is not required for exams with open time restrictions (e.g., 24 or 72 hours to complete a 3-hour exam).

Students are expected to self-monitor their use of time while performing these activities during the exam.

Headphones and/or Music

Students are permitted to use noise cancelling or earplugs while completing online exams.

Students are permitted to listen to music while completing online exams. They must observe any restrictions instituted by their instructors about accessing information outside of the online platform being used for their exam, including information on smartphones or other devices.

Ergonomic Seating, Height-Adjustable Desk
Students are responsible for arranging access to these furnishings while completing online exams

Use of a Computer (e.g., "computer for all tests/exams" or "computer for written responses based on exam/test")

Students are responsible for arranging access to a computer suitable for completing online exams.

Restricted Screen Use

Students with recent concussions and other injuries may be restricted in their use of computers or screens. Not adhering to these restrictions may compromise their recovery.

For some exams, students can view the exam questions online, but write their answers by hand on paper. They can then photograph their handwritten answers and submit pictures. Instructors should inform students how to submit their exam answers using this method.

Students writing exams for which this approach is not feasible should contact their QSAS advisor. Other accommodations, such as a Reader and/or Scribe, may be warranted.

Adaptive Software

Students with the adaptive software programs indicated in their exam accommodation already installed on their computer are permitted to use these programs while completing online exams.

The following adaptive software resources are recommended alternatives for students who do not have personal access to the adaptive programs listed in their exam accommodations:



Built-In features in Windows and Mac OS systems are reasonable options.

Magnification, Screen Readers, Navigation Assistance

Jaws, Zoomtext, and Fusion - Available free in Windows format only for persons with vision loss until June 30, 2020. Does not require internet access:

Organization and Mind-Mapping

X-Mind - Available free for both Windows and Mac OS. Once downloaded and installed, does not require internet access:

Students are encouraged to visit the Adaptive Technology Centre website for information and support on accessing and using the above adaptive software programs.

Academic Aids/Adjustments/Supports

Dictionary, Calculator, Scrap Paper

Students are permitted to use the academic aids as specified in their accommodation during online exams. This includes the use of a dictionary, calculator (basic 4-function), or scrap paper.

Memory Aid

Arrangements for this accommodation are necessary only if the exam is closed book, and all students are permitted no access to any information outside of the exam. In this case, students and instructors are strongly encouraged to review the QSAS Accommodations Explained - Memory Aids webpage for guidance. Students are expected to observe as closely as possible the 10-business day deadline prior to the exam day by which to submit prepared memory aids to their instructor for review and approval.

Access to Instructor for Clarification

QSAS uses this accommodation to impress on instructors that the accessibility needs for a particular student requires the same level of access to the instructor during an exams as is available to all students. QSAS adds this statement for students who need instructor access, and who are taking exams in venues separate from their classmates and the instructor.

In the online context, instructors should decide if they will accept questions from students during the exam. If so, instructors should give clear instructions to students about how they can be reached during the exam. If the instructor will not take questions from any student during the exam, they should inform all students about this prior to the exam.

Large Print

Instructors should prepare their exam materials using an accessible format. This enables students to enlarge the materials or access them using built-in computer features or adaptive software. Instructors should avoid using scanned images in exam materials even for online exams wherever possible (e.g., upload pictures taken by cell phones or other devices). These are not easily enlarged without reducing image quality. Also, they frequently inaccessible to students using adaptive software.

The Adaptive Technology Centre provides helpful guidance on creating accessible documents.

Scantron Exempt
This accommodation does not apply to exams written online
Reader or Scribe

Instructors or students should review the QSAS Accommodations Explained webpages for the Reader and Scribe accommodations.

Remote support of these accommodations may be provided by a teaching assistant or other suitable Queen's individual through Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

If this accommodation cannot be arranged remotely, another suitable person in the student's home may perform the role. Students may be asked to complete an attestation letter, agreeing that the helper will perform these roles as outlined in the QSAS guidance for readers and scribes. Instructors may use the following sample attestation letter for this purpose: Reader/Scribe Attestation Letter - COVID19