• Teenisha Garcia

Special Concessions in exams help to create a level playing field for students with special needs.

Updated: Nov 25

As we prepare for local and regional examinations such as SEA, NCSE, CSEC and CAPE, it is important that parents and students are made aware of policies that are put in place by the Ministry of Education (MOE) of Trinidad and Tobago to try to create a level playing field for all students, especially those who have special needs. If a student has a physical, learning or any other type of disability, then he/she may be eligible to receive special concessions or alternative arrangements. However, these are only made available once a formal request has been made to the MOE either by the school or parent/guardian of the student.

Special Concessions or Alternative Arrangements are granted based on the unique needs of the student and may either be adjustments to the exam format or the specific exam conditions. For example, a student who is visually impaired may need to have an interpreter or reader while a student diagnosed with ADHD may need extended time in exams.

There are four main types of special concessions available:

  1. Presentation Accommodations adjust the presentation of test material and / or test directions e.g. (Instructions in Sign Language, Braille, Large Print). These may include the use of specific personnel (Interpreter, Reader)

  2. Response Accommodations adjust the manner in which students respond to or answer test questions (Oral responses transcribed by a Scribe; Braille).

  3. Setting Accommodations adjust the place in which the testing normally occurs (Separate Room, Preferential Seating)

  4. Scheduling Accommodations adjust the time allowance or scheduling of tests (Extended and/or Compensatory Time, Scheduled Breaks).

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It should be noted that every student with special needs will NOT automatically qualify for concessions or arrangements. Due diligence must occur first. Here is a list of the circumstances under which students may qualify for concessions:

  1. Students with Medical, Physical and Sensory Impairments - Applications for students with medical, physical and sensory impairments must be accompanied by bona fide documentation from a recognized medical institution or licensed professional.

  2. Students with Learning Disabilities - Applications for students with learning disabilities must be accompanied by bona fide documentation (valid for a maximum of three years from the date of assessment) from a professional/organisation qualified to do psycho-educational assessments. Alternatively, students without documented disabilities who receive classroom support or use instructional tools or accommodations in the classroom are not automatically eligible for this special arrangement.

  3. Other special circumstances - Any other special circumstances, under which a special concession may be required for students writing local exams (SEA, NCSE, National Tests and PSLCE) should be submitted for the consideration of the Ministry. These may include emergency situations that can adversely affect students’ performance, on the day of the exam e.g. (Broken arm, illness, family trauma).

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There is already so much pressure on students when it comes to preparing for local and regional exams. As parents and teachers, we need to send our students into these exams well equipped to give their best.

To find out more specific details about the application process for special concessions, please use this link:

If you are still unsure whether your child can qualify to receive special concessions, please visit or call the Ministry of Education directly. Receiving a special concession or arrangement might be the only thing standing in the way of your child being able to properly showcase his/her level of proficiency in an exam.

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