Faq. Exámenes Cambridge

I have visual difficulties taking the Cambridge exam

If you are blind, visually impaired or have trouble seeing, we can help you take your Cambridge English exam.

What I need to do?

It may take several months for some special arrangements to be made for you, so you should apply as soon as possible through your Cambridge English exam center. For  IELTS, you must apply through your IELTS test center.

What will the Cambridge English test center do?

Your center:

  • inform you of the application deadline  (this may be several months before your exam, depending on the arrangements you need)
  • Request all the details of your visual impairment
  • arrange to take the test. 

If your center does not have the equipment or space you need (for example, a separate room), they will do their best to help you find another center that does.

Your center may also ask you to provide a medical certificate.

What special arrangements can I request?

There are many different options - choose what you need from the list below. You or your teacher can ask your center to make all the arrangements you need.

1. Overtime

If you are visually impaired, you will probably need more time to complete a job. You can request an extra 25% of the normal time for work.

You can ask for more than this (for example, if it takes you a long time to read the questions or write your answers). However, remember that too much extra time can make you very tired.

You can also request breaks while taking a document, in addition to any extra time you need. Your center will tell you what you can have.

2. Help with reading the question papers.

If you are blind or partially sighted, you can request the use of the following types of equipment:

  • hand magnifying glasses
  • screen magnification software
  • screen reader software
  • video or closed circuit television (CCTV) magnifying glasses
  • reading machines
  • Upgradable Braille displays. 

You can also request a 'reader'. This is a person who will read and reread the questions to you. See also section 8: Have someone read or write your answers to you  below.

3. Help to write your answers

If you are blind or partially sighted, you can ask to write your answers in the following ways:

A. Use any of the following machines:

  • Braille mechanical keyboard
  • electronic Braille keyboard, connected to a printer
  • computer or word processor (though you can not use the spelling checker, the grammar checker, thesaurus or similar functions)
  • Braille note taker.

B. Tell your answers to someone who will write them for you. See also section 8: Have someone read or write your answers to you below. 

C. Write your answers on a separate sheet of paper instead of using the computer-read answer sheet. 

4. Braille question papers

Some tests are available as Braille question papers. Braille papers can be produced in SEB (Standard English Braille) and UEB (Unified English Braille) and are available as:

  • Contracted Braille (Grade 2)
  • Uncontracted Braille (Grade 1).

Please see the modified materials section below to see if your test is available in Braille.

5. Extended question documents

Extended question documents are available for some exams. We change the question documents, taking out any 'visual' material that is not necessary to answer the question. Then we make large print versions of the papers in A4 size. The print size looks like this:

(Usually 18 points in bold)

See if there are extended questions available for your exam

6. Special versions of the listening comprehension tests.

Many of the questions in the listening tests ask you to take notes while listening to a CD recording. If you are blind or partially sighted, you may not be able to do this. 

To help you take the Listening test, we produce a special version. 

The supervisor (the person who will give you your hearing test):

  • Stop the CD before each part of the test  to give you enough time to read the questions
  • Stop the CD at certain points during each part to give you enough time to write one or more answers.
  • Stop the CD after each part to give it enough time to check your answers.

7. Special versions of speaking tests

For most tests (except  IELTS), you normally take the speaking test with a partner.

If you have visual difficulties, you can request

  • have extra time  if it takes you longer than usual to read any test material or decide what you want to say
  • take the test with a non-candidate partner (don't take the test)
  • take the test without a partner, therefore, where both candidates usually talk to each other, instead, talk to the examiner
  • use descriptions or 'written' descriptions in Braille instead of visual material
  • have enlarged copies of pictures (for example, pictures from newspapers, magazines, or drawings) if they are used in the speaking test
  • have enlarged printed versions of written descriptions of pictures (if they are used in the speaking test and you find it difficult to use enlarged pictures).

See if you can request a special speaking test for your exam

8. Have someone read or write your answers to you

A reader is a person who will read questions to you. Note that the reader will not explain the questions to you and cannot give you any advice. They can also reread their answers. 

If you want someone to write your answers, you should note that:

  • you will be asked to spell certain words
  • you must also give the score. 

If you want someone to help you read or write your answers, you should practice before your test. For example, make sure you can spell the letters of the alphabet. 

You can also use screen reading software to reread your answers. However, you should not use the spell checking, grammar check, or thesaurus features. 

If you are color blind and the test contains pictures or color illustrations, this material may be adapted. 

If you would like to know more about having a reader or someone to write your responses to, contact your center.