Home Current students Support Disability matters Using a scribe in examinations

Using a scribe in examinations

A scribe, sometimes referred to as an amanuensis, is an individual who can transcribe a student’s answers in University exams. The specific circumstances in which a student can access this support arrangement will be outlined in their Personal Learning Support Plan.

A scribe will

  • Write down exactly what the student dictates. A scribe will only record responses, including maps, graphs, or diagrams where appropriate, exactly as dictated by the student.  A scribe may, however, use their discretion regarding spelling and punctuation.
  • Amend what has been written if the student identifies and dictates the amendment.
  • Read what they have written, as often as the student requests.

A scribe will not

  • Explain the meaning of words, phrases or questions in the exam paper.
  • Suggest when to move on to the next question, give advice about which questions to answer or which order questions should be answered in.
  • Comment on the factual or academic content of what has been dictated.


Some suggestions are given below about how a student can prepare for using a scribe prior to an exam.

  • Establish your preferred means of organising and structuring your ideas – e.g. mind mapping, bullet points, rough notes, etc.
  • It is recommended that students practice working with a scribe prior to an exam in timed practice sessions, using past papers where available. If possible, students should practice with the person who will be supporting them in an exam. Students may also wish to practice with a friend or fellow student.

In the exam

  • Prepare any mind maps or rough notes yourself if you wish (tell your scribe what you are doing).
  • Think about what you want to say before you say it.
  • Use short sentences where possible.
  • If you get stuck for a word, don’t panic – relax and concentrate on the idea that you wish to express.
  • You may ask your scribe to read back what you have dictated, or read your answers yourself.
  • You can change your answers at any time.
  • You can write some responses yourself if you are comfortable doing so.

An exam invigilator will be present in the room at all times.