Scheme of Reasonable Accommodations at Certificate Examinations (RACE)
Exam arrangements for students with special needs
If you are a secondary school student with special needs, you can get special arrangements for sitting State examinations such as the Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate.
Students with disabilities (for example, visual impairments, learning difficulties, motor and mobility impairments and so on) can apply through their school for Reasonable Accommodations at Certificate Examinations (RACE).
Reasonable accommodations are designed to remove, as far as possible, the impact of a disability on a student's performance and enable the student to access the state examinations on an equal basis with other students. It does not give the student an unfair advantage over other students in the same examination.
The State Examinations Commission oversees the RACE scheme.
What 'reasonable accommodations' can I get?
Examples of reasonable accommodations include the following.
- Get enlarged or Braille versions of questions, if you have a visual impairment
- Use voice-activated computers, recording devices or scribes (other people to do the writing)
- Use assistive technology to access the examination paper, for example exam reading pens, magnifiers or screen readers
- Take your examination in a hospital or in any other stand-alone centre
- Get an exemption from the aural part of the examination if you are deaf or hard of hearing
You can find more information in the guide on reasonable accommodation for exams in 2024.
'Accommodations' that can be approved by your school
Your school has the authority to make special provisions for students with special needs during State exams on the basis of what is best for you. Some of the special provisions your school can make include:
- Taking medicine, food or drinks into the examination centre where this is required for medical reasons.
- Use of a special desk or chair that is used in your classroom
- Use of low-vision aids that you normally use in the classroom
- Ensuring that deaf and hard-of-hearing students are seated close to the examination superintendent
- Granting breaks or rest periods in each examination session warranted by your physical or medical condition. (Under this special provision, the time taken for rest or as a break can be compensated for at the end of each examination period to a maximum of 20 minutes.)
If you are not satisfied with the arrangements made, you can appeal to an Independent Appeals Committee. The members of the forum are from outside the Commission. All appeals are considered using the Framework of Principles set out by the Expert Advisory Group on State Examinations.
Rules on 'reasonable accommodation' for exams
The State Examinations Commission is responsible for ensuring the proper conduct of State examinations in Ireland. The Commission has a stated policy regarding the issue of reasonable accommodations of students with special needs during examination time.
However, schools also have the authority to make a number of specified arrangements to facilitate examination candidates with special needs without requesting advance permission from the Commission.
You can find more information and key dates in the guide for students on reasonable accommodations.
How to apply for RACE
Applications for reasonable accommodations are made through your school to the State Examinations Commission (SEC).
The application requires information about your disability or condition as well as your educational needs and how your condition affects your school work. You will need to sign a form to give the school permission to pass on your information to the SEC.
External candidates who have no links to any school or centre, should apply for RACE directly to SEC at the time you are applying to take the exams. You can download the RACE application form from the SEC website.
You can find further information on reasonable accommodations for State exams on examinations.ie.