Does your child qualify for academic accommodations? – Impaq Education
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Does your child qualify for academic accommodations?

6 min read   •   
Elmien Ackerman

At Impaq, we aim to ensure that all learners receive the same educational opportunities. Academic accommodations, concessions, and exceptions accommodate learners with learning disabilities to ensure that the academic and career opportunities they receive are equivalent to those provided to their peers.

As a parent or tutor, it’s essential to understand the accommodations process and what accommodations work best for each child or learner.



What is an accommodation, concession, or exemption?

An assessment accommodation or concession is a change or modification made to the assessment or assessment venue/regulations for learners with learning barriers or disabilities to ensure that these do not unfairly affect a learner’s academic performance. Applying for assessment accommodations and/or concessions ensures that learners who experience learning barriers are optimally supported without compromising the standard and credibility of the assessment.

Exemptions refer to cases where a learner cannot take a subject required for the National Senior Certificate (NSC) and may take a different subject in place thereof.


The application process

If your child experiences learning barriers or has a learning disability, you may apply for special accommodations, concessions, and/or exemptions with Impaq (provided that the necessary documentation is submitted). Various supporting documents are required for an application, and the types of documents to be submitted will differ depending on the nature of the accommodation, concession, or exemption required. In cases where medical or psychological reports are needed, the clinician who needs to complete the report will be specified.

We recommend that applications are finalised as soon as possible as the application process can be lengthy – the average processing time for applications is between six (6) to eight (8) weeks. If an application is denied, an appeal can be lodged within one (1) calendar month of the application rejection.



Who qualifies for an accommodation, concession, or exemption?

The following learners could qualify for an accommodation, concession, or exemption:

  1. Learners with learning barriers or disabilities. This applies to learners with learning disabilities in specific subject fields who cannot write an examination under normal conditions.
  2. Immigrant learners. According to the Department of Basic Education, immigrant status applies to:
  • a child or a dependent of a diplomatic representative of a foreign government recognised in South Africa, or
  • a child who first enrolled at and entered a South African school in Grade 7 or a more senior grade, or
  • a child who started their schooling in South Africa and has subsequently attended school outside South Africa for two or more consecutive years after Grade 3 (or its equivalent) and has since returned to South Africa.
  1. Ad-hoc accommodation based on a learner’s specific needs. This applies in case of injury, trauma, hospitalisation, pregnancy, or imprisonment (with documented evidence, e.g., medical certificate) just before or during assessment and examination.



When should you consider an accommodation or concession?

Some learning barriers or disabilities that might hamper a learner’s academic performance include:

  • Mental illness (e.g., generalised anxiety disorder)
  • Attention disorders (e.g., ADD/ADHD)
  • Reading difficulties (e.g., dyslexia)
  • Writing difficulties (e.g., dyspraxia)
  • Physical disabilities
  • Chronic illness (e.g., diabetes, epilepsy)
  • Trauma and associated conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Also read: Helpful tips for managing your child’s academic anxiety


What types of accommodations and concessions are available?

The available accommodations and concessions are dependent on the nature of your child’s medical condition. These include:

  • Additional time– An extra five, ten, or fifteen minutes of additional time is added per hour of assessment (for example, a learner writing a 2-hour examination may receive an additional ten minutes to complete the paper).
  • Enlarged print (A3) –Enlarged print makes an examination paper more accessible to a visually impaired learner.
  • Exemption from a language – Learners with immigrant status may be exempt from a First Additional Language (FAL), but another subject must be taken in its place. Policy does not allow for an exemption from an additional language until Grade 10, but Grade 4 – 9 learners can apply for an assessment accommodation (a lowered pass mark) for the additional language.
  • Exemption from Mathematics/Mathematical Literacy – Grade 10 – 12 learners diagnosed with a mathematical disorder, such as dyscalculia, may be exempt from Mathematical Literacy or Mathematics. Another subject must be taken in the place of the exempted subject. Learners in Grade 4 – 9 can apply for assessment accommodation (a lowered pass mark) for Mathematics but cannot be exempt from Mathematics until Grade 10.
  • Handwriting – A handwriting concession alerts a marker to a learner’s poor handwriting, and extra care will be taken when marking the script.
  • Medication/food intake –Learners may take medication during an examination and/or have access to food and beverages to maintain their sugar levels and treat low blood sugars.
  • Personal assistant – A personal assistant accommodates a learner with a physical impairment by having a personal assistant at hand to assist with specific (physical) needs.
  • Prompter – A prompter refocuses an easily-distracted learner (e.g., learners with autism, Asperger’s, ADD, ADHD). The prompter can use verbal cues (‘Focus on your work’) or physical cues (tap on the shoulder or desk).
  • Reader –A reader reads the question paper to the learner, which allows them to write down their answers.
  • Rest breaks – A rest break is a period of time in which the learner is not required to be at their desk but must remain in the examination venue. Rest breaks may not be used to answer examination questions.
  • Separate venue –A separate venue is a quiet environment away from the main examination centre.
  • Separate venue(special placement in examination venue) – The learner will have a special placement in the main examination room to avoid unnecessary disruptions.
  • Scribe– A scribe writes verbatim what the learner dictates. The learner should do their own drawings and graphs, and all the planning done by the learner must be handed in with the work.
  • Special aids – Where sufficient proof is submitted, using special aids such as magnifying equipment, reading pens, etc., may be considered.
  • Spelling – The marker must ignore the spelling as long as it can be deciphered phonetically. Please note that for Paper 1 language examinations where textual editing is examined and spelling is part of the content knowledge, spelling will be marked accordingly

Impaq will also consider unique cases not included above, given that sufficient evidence is attached to the application.

Although it is always advisable for a learner to use the support granted to them, it remains the learner and their parent or guardian’s choice to use the approved accommodations.

Also read: My child has unique academic needs. How can Impaq help?


All accommodation, concession, and exemption costs are for the parent or guardian’s account and could include:

  • A reader/scribe
  • An additional invigilator
  • A separate venue
  • Additional time for invigilation

Kindly send an email to for more information and guidance to ensure that your child reaches their full potential.