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.

Please get in touch with your campus support contact for more information. 

Collage of 2 | Lecturer helping a student | Beach at Brough Head, Orkney Islands

What will a scribe do content

What will a scribe do

What will a scribe do

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
How to prepare content

How to prepare

How to prepare

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 content

In the exam

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