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Rules for readers and writers

Contact Student Support

(02) 9367 8117


Readers may be approved for students whose disability prevents them from independently reading and/or comprehending written questions.

Writers may be approved for students whose disability prevents them from independently communicating their responses in a handwritten format. This includes, spelling difficulty, and illegible or extremely slow handwriting

People who act as readers and writers do so on a voluntary basis. 

Who can act as a reader and/or writer?

  • A Year 11 student. It is recommended that a competent Year 11 student act as a reader/writer for a Higher School Certificate student. These students should be familiar with the subjects being examined.
  • A former student of the school.
  • A suitable adult.
  • A retired teacher.

Who cannot act as a reader and/or writer?

  • A relative or friend of the student.
  • A currently employed teacher or private tutor.
  • A non-teaching employee at the student’s school (eg a teacher’s aide, school secretary, lab technician).
  • Anyone who recently taught the student.
  • Anyone who has a close relative sitting the same examination.
  • A NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) appointed examination supervisor or presiding officer.

Can the reader and writer be the same person?

Yes. If a student has been granted both a reader and a writer, NESA would expect that the same person act as both.

What qualities should a reader/writer have?

  • Ability to communicate clearly in English with a sufficient literacy level
  • Understanding of the subject(s) being examined
  • Clear, legible handwriting (if writing for the student)
  • Willingness to spend time practising with the student
  • Patience and sensitivity
  • Understanding of the need to maintain confidentiality and an ability to do so.

Can students use a reader and/or writer in a language examination?

A reader and/or writer may be used in some parts of a language examination. The support person is permitted to read and/or write in English only. The student will need to read and/or write for themselves in the language being examined.

What a reader can do

  • Read the exam questions and any incorporated stimulus or resource material  as many times as the student asks them to.
  • Read the student’s answers back to them.

What a reader cannot do

  • Interpret the question(s) for the student.
  • Advise the student in any way.
  • Read in the language being examined in a Language examination.

What a writer can do 

  • Write the student’s answers exactly as dictated by the student.
  • Ask the student to repeat a word or sentence.
  • Ask the student to spell difficult or obscure words.
  • Punctuate and use capital letters without the specific direction of the student.
  • Operate a calculator at the student’s direction.
  • Rule lines as directed by the student.
  • Re-read the last two sentences that have been written, to enable the student to regain their place in their work.

What a writer cannot do 

  • Interpret the question or advise the student in any way.
  • Make comments on the student’s work.
  • Alter the student’s work or write words that the student has not dictated.
  • Re-write a student’s written work (ie a student cannot write out their answers and then have the writer re-write them).
  • Type for the student.
  • Draw (if the student is unable to draw, please contact Student Support).
  • Write in the language being examined in a Language examination.

What the student can do

  • Practise using a writer as often as possible before the actual examination.
  • Dictate his or her answers exactly as he or she wishes them to be written down.
  • Advise the writer when to start a new paragraph, when to put something in brackets or inverted commas, and when to underline something.
  • Regularly read over what the writer has written.
  • Make notes, essay plans or jot down ideas during the writing time.
  • Use a writer for part of the exam and write the other parts for themselves. Please note that extra time (to compensate for the dictation process) applies only to the time the student uses a writer.

What the student cannot do

  • Ask to have the question interpreted.
  • Ask a reader in a Language examination to read in the language being examined.
  • Ask a writer in a Language examination to write in the language being examined.