The exams regulator Ofqual has opened a consultation on making exam papers more accessible, suggesting they should avoid “complex language” and “sarcasm”, Schools Week reports.
The 12-week consultation for boards on designing accessible assessment came after a number of boards said they would “welcome additional guidance” on how to comply with the existing rulebook.
Ofqual said learners who were deaf, blind, autistic, dyslexic or who had English as a additional language were most likely to be “unfairly disadvantaged by irrelevant features” in exams, which “can stop them demonstrating the full extent of their knowledge, skills and understanding”.
Proposed guidance said instructions on how to complete the assessment should not make students hold “large amounts of information in their working memory”. Board should also consider how putting the most demanding tasks at the start of the exam could demotivate some students.
The guidance added that boards should avoid uncommon words with unusual or irregular spellings, or words that have more than one meaning, like “draw”, “present” or “sound”.
“Figurative language, including colloquialisms, idioms, metaphors and sarcasm” should also be avoided, it says.
It follows research earlier this year which found that some exam papers didn’t work well with assistive technology, causing “frustration” for teachers and students.
Ofqual is urging students as well as exam boards to respond to the consultation, which closes on January 24 2022.