At Sheffield Hallam University we recognise that the teaching and learning environment can unintentionally present a range of barriers to a diverse range of learners, which may result in some being disadvantaged. The extra pressure and anxiety of time constraints can disadvantage both disabled students and non-disabled students. Studies show that for disabled students, extra time in exams can make a significant difference to achieving a better mark (Runyan, 1991, Zuriff, 2000) whereas for non-disabled students, extra time makes little difference (Duncan & Purcell, 2019). To support as many students as possible to complete exams, all exams at SHU have 25% extra time built in. 

The Public Sector Equality Duty (2011) requires the university to be anticipatory and provide reasonable adjustments for disabled students. Extra time in exams is inclusive and supports all students (Bunbury, 2020), including those who have an undiagnosed disability or are unable to evidence one. We are committed to building an inclusive teaching and learning community, and the intention of this approach to inclusive assessment is to ensure as many students as possible can achieve their potential.  

Further support and adjustments 

Where students require additional adjustments to exams other than 25% extra time, these must be agreed in the learning contract in advance of the deadline set by the examinations team. Students should register with Disabled Student Support to ensure they get all the support they are entitled to. Students should visit The Student Examination Guidance webpages for further support.  


AdvanceHE (2010). Guidance Notes: Managing reasonable adjustments in higher education. Published online: 

Bunbury, S. (2020). Disability in higher education – do reasonable adjustments contribute to an inclusive curriculum?, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 24:9, 964-79,  DOI:10.1080/13603116.2018.1503347  

Duncan, H. & Purcell, C, (2019), Consensus or contradiction? A review of the current research into the impact of granting extra time in exams to students with specific learning difficulties (SpLD), Journal of Further and Higher Education, 44(4), pp.439-453, DOI:10.1080/0309877X.2019.1578341 

Runyan, M. K. 1991. “The Effect of Extra Time on Reading Comprehension Scores for University Students with and without Learning Disabilities.” Journal of Learning Disabilities 24 (2). doi:10.1177/002221949102400603.  

Zuriff, G. E. 2000. “Extra Examination Time for Students with Learning Disabilities: An Examination of the Maximum Potential Thesis.” Applied Measurement in Education 13 (1): 99–117.  

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