One of the questions we sometimes get asked by our exam preparation students is what to do if they have speech, visual or hearing difficulties. So here is some advice about what to do if you require special circumstances.


Visual impairment:

If you are worried about any visual difficulties which may affect your results, it is important to contact the Cambridge English Exam Centre before you enrol in order to inform them of your situation and make an application for special circumstances. You will be given an application deadline which may be different from that which is published online for other candidates. If you are going to take the IELTS or TOEFL, you should also inform the test centre as early as possible.

You can expect to receive various types of help in the exam: for example there are Braille question papers, “readers” who will accompany you throughout the test to read and repeat any questions or scribes who will write your answers. It may just be a simple question of asking for extra time.


Hearing or speech impairment:

Again, you must apply for special circumstances by contacting your centre and informing them of any hearing difficulties so that they can make the necessary preparations for you to take the exam. If you have severe difficulties and the extra help provided is not enough, you may be granted exemption from certain parts of the exam (i.e the listening or speaking sections).

For the IELTS, you will be granted exemption from one or two parts of the exam but you will be given a mark in these sections which has been calculated from your score in the other parts of the exam.

The thing to remember is not to worry- there are many people who sit English exams under special circumstances and although enrolment may be a bit more of a lengthy process, it should not put you off taking the exam.


For more information, please visit the following websites:

Cambridge exams:



Special circumstances in exams
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