Special Educational Needs

Circulars and Publications

Circular 53/2019: Exemption from the study of Irish

Reasonable Accommodations for State Examinations 2022 (RACE)

The State Examinations Commission provides a scheme of reasonable accommodations in the state exams, for students with specific learning needs who meet certain criteria. The reasonable accommodations are intended to:

a. Remove, as far as possible, the impact of the condition on the candidate’s performance and thus enable the candidate to demonstrate their level of attainment


b. Ensure that, whilst giving candidates every opportunity to demonstrate their level of attainment, the special arrangements will not give the candidate an unfair advantage over other candidates in the same examination.

A short summary of some of the main accommodations are listed below:

  •  Reader/Reading Assistance/An Exam Reading Pen (all without offering any interpretations or explanations)
  • A waiver from the assessment of spelling, grammar and punctuation in language subjects only, where marks are award for content alone rather than spelling and grammar.
  • Assistive Technology- for students with a physical disability who use assistive technology in their everyday school work. A word processor or recording device to record the candidate’s responses or, in very exceptional circumstances, access to a
  • Breaks – for students with a physical difficulty (including medical, sensory, behavioural and mental health difficulties), to allow them have a rest break (up to 10 minutes per scheduled hour) during which no writing is allowed.
  • A separate centre to carry out their state examinations – for students with a physical difficulty (including medical, sensory, behavioural and mental health difficulties). Please note that a letter from your child’s specialist must confirm that a medical condition is present and that the reasonable accommodations are recommended).

In order to qualify for any of the above, a student must meet a strict set of criteria. Psychological assessments are no longer required and the school must still carry out its own investigations even if a psychological report recommends any of the above accommodations.

Schools are not allowed to apply for accommodations unless the full set of criteria are met. Further information on the full list of accommodations available and the criteria necessary to apply can be found here

Please also see the following important guidance below:

Guide for students

If your child is granted accommodations for the Junior Cycle Examinations, the same accommodations can be reactivated for Leaving Certificate once the school can confirm the same needs exist.


Assessments are carried out as part of the RACE process (Reasonable Accommodations for State Exams). These occur according to the state exams calendar.

Candidates for an accommodation will only be tested once only, following the establishment of need and a history of intervention by the school. The following are a list of assessments that the school may use for the purposes of RACE
1. The following tests can be used by teachers to establish a candidate’s standard score in reading. This test is administered individually:
Wide Range Achievement Test 5 (WRAT-5) or
·         Wechsler Individual Achievement Test III (WIAT-III) or
·         Woodcock Reading Mastery Test 3rd Edition or
·         Woodcock-Johnson IV Tests of Achievement or
·         Diagnostic Reading Analysis (3rd Edition (DRA 3) or
·         Adult Reading Test 2nd Edition (ART 2)
2. The following tests can be used by teachers to establish a candidate’s standard score in spelling. This test is administered individually:

·         Wide Range Achievement Test 5 (WRAT-5) or
·         Wechsler Individual Achievement Test III (WIAT-III) or
·         Woodcock-Johnson IV Tests of Achievement or
·         SPaRCS Test
3. The following standardised tests should be used, where applicable, by schools to explore a candidate’s writing speed. This test is administered individually to establish the writing speed in words per minute.
·         Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting 2007 for Age Range 9 to 16:11 (www.pearsonclinical.co.uk)
·         Detailed Assessment of Speed of Handwriting 2011 for Age Range 17 to 25 (www.pearsonclinical.co.uk)
Further information and support on testing can be accessed through the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) or The National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) support services.