Boris (15 years 10 months) [Examination access assessment]

Boris is in Year 10 and will be sitting GCSE examinations at the end of the year. His literacy skills are average and he shows good conceptual understanding of material, but he works at a very slow rate so that he rarely completes written exam papers within the time limit. He has been encouraged to increase his rate of working but this turned out to be counterproductive because it dramatically increased the number of errors in his work. Teachers have recognised that when it comes to assessing Boris’s skills and knowledge his slow speed of processing disadvantages him substantially and have consequently agreed a school policy to allow him 25% extra time in class written tests, internal exams. The time has now come for him to be assessed for possible access arrangements in forthcoming GCSE exams.

The JCQ regulations that govern procedures for granting access arrangements make provision for students who have slow speed of working, specifically that students with significantly below average performance (i.e. standard scores below 85) on ‘cognitive processing measures which have a substantial and long term adverse effect on speed of working’ are valid evidence for provision of exam access arrangements [JCQ Regulations, 2020-21, Section 5.2.2]. Section 7.5.12 of these regulations goes on to state that ‘Cognitive processing assessments would include, for example, investigations of short-term or working memory, phonological processing (e.g. phonological awareness, phonological memory and/or rapid naming) visual processing, mathematical processing*, visual/motor co-ordination difficulties or other measures as determined appropriate for the individual by a specialist assessor.’


*The time taken to process Mathematical concepts, sometimes known as Mathematical fluency. A timed assessment of Mathematical computation is not acceptable. A mathematical processing measure will only be acceptable as assessment evidence for extra time in Mathematics examinations.


The SENCo, who is also the school’s qualified assessor for exam access arrangements, assessed Boris using Lucid Recall, together with other tests to measure his reading, writing and spelling skills, according to JCQ requirements. His Lucid Recall results, shown in Figure 13, indicate that he has poor working memory and slow speed of processing. All his scores, except on Pattern Recall are below standard score 85 and therefore he is eligible for 25% extra time in GCSE examinations.

Boris’s results were entered on to JCQ Form 8, along with the results of the literacy tests and information about his history of need and the various provisions made for him by the school, as required by JCQ. The results from Lucid Recall were entered into part 5 of Section C on Form 8 (see Figure 14), which provides space for two main test results to be reported, although further results can be reported in the box labelled ‘Other relevant information’. If there are more than two suitable measures with standardised scores of 84 or less that could be reported then it is up to the assessor to judge which are the most important results or the ones that most clearly demonstrate the candidate’s difficulties. In this case the most appropriate were the Working Memory Composite score of 80 and the Processing Speed score of 74. 


Figure 13. Lucid Recall results for Boris (age 15:10).

In the box ‘Which type of processing does this test assess?’ the SENCo entered ‘Working Memory’ and ‘Visual Processing Speed’ respectively.5 The results of the three subtests were reported in the box labelled ‘Other relevant information’ (see Figure 14).


Figure 14. Lucid Recall results for Boris entered into JCQ Form 8 Section C(5).

5 Although it may be argued that any counting task necessarily involves use of verbal labels in order to arrive at an answer, the counting task in Lucid Recall chiefly involves visual processing (see Sections 1.2.2 and 2.1.3) and hence is best described in this manner on JCQ Form 8.