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Which exam boards will let me use a reading pen?

Published on
August 9, 2022 at 12:00:00 AM PDT August 9, 2022 at 12:00:00 AM PDTth, August 9, 2022 at 12:00:00 AM PDT

Reading pens as special provisions in education

Special provisions are alterations to exam arrangements designed to support a learner who is at an immediate disadvantage. This includes learners who have disabilities, neurodivergences, or who have a medical condition that impacts their ability to take assessments fairly and in comfort. 

Special provisions are part of the reasonable adjustments that can be made to a student’s learning environment to accommodate their needs. They can be anything from supplying text papers and reading materials formatted in a different way to reading solutions like reading pens and support professionals.

So, how do you know what your learners are entitled to, and what’s going to provide them with the best support possible?

Meet C-Pen Exam Reader 2!

Choosing the right special provisions for test season is vitally important. Not only do they need to support learners where they might be experiencing a skills gap, but they need to boost confidence too. Learners perform their best when they know someone (or something) has their back!

C-Pen Exam Reader 2 is a powerful reading tool that puts award-winning text-to-speech tech in your learner’s hands during exams. It’s easier to use than the simplest screen reader, and it’s approved for use as a reasonable adjustment in education by exam boards across the country. Just plug in headphones and move the tip of the reading pen across the page to start scanning: it’s a dependable, reliable, multi-modal reading support at their fingertips!

The technical bits 

C-Pen Exam Reader 2 is a complete support suite that fits in your pencil case. There’s no need for Wi-Fi, meaning that connectivity issues on exam day simply aren’t an issue.


It’s also fitted with a long-life rechargeable battery so that even if learners have a full day of exams, it’ll be there from the first question to the very last, all on a single charge.



• Fast speaking – make the most of timed exams!

• Recognise text in Chinese (Simplified/Traditional), Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish

• A voice in several languages and accents, including Australian English

• Programmable delays to support readers who need a little extra time

• Audio boost function for clarity in noisy environments

• App-based menu

• Audio-aided interface for learners with reading or vision differences

Requesting C-Pen Exam Reader 2 in exams

But it’s not as simple as showing up to the exam hall with a reading pen in their pocket. Often, special provisions support has to be pre-requested with the approval of the awarding exam board.

What exam boards allow C-Pen Exam Reader 2 as part of special provisions?


C-Pen Exam Reader 2 is approved by all the following exam boards, but the conditions for use can differ from provider to provider. Check out your exam board on the list below! 

C-Pen Exam Reader 2 is approved for use under special provisions without reference to the board for learners studying for qualifications from:

• South Australia & NT: South Australian Certificate of Education Board (SACE)

The following boards will accept applications under special provisions on a case-by-case basis, accessible via an individual application:

• ACT: ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies (BSSS)

• NSW: NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) 

• Queensland: Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA)

• Tasmania: Office of Tasmanian Assessment Standards and Certification (TASC)

• Victoria: Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA)

• Western Australia: School Curriculum and Standards Authority (SCSA)

In most cases, school staff will organise and manage these board applications on behalf of the student.

If your exam provider isn’t listed above, don’t worry! Check out their own special provision guidance or professional advice, which will be available to you either online or via email. 

What’s the difference between a human reader and a reading pen? 

Some learners might have previous experience with special provisions in the form of a human reader. These are learning support professionals whose role is to sit with learners during exams and read out the questions and information on the exam page.

There are, however, a few downsides when a human reader is compared to assistive technology alternatives. Often, learners can feel ‘spotlighted’ or overly observed by their peers when they’re consistently sat next to an adult, which results in developing social anxiety. Some feel as if they’re being policed, or their behaviour being monitored. This can lead to learners downplaying the impact of reading differences, and not requesting the support they need for exam season. 

Human readers can also have the effect of prompting some learners to develop the idea that they need somebody with them to read with confidence. This becomes problematic when they find themselves in scenarios where human reading support isn’t available and might cause reading anxieties to get bigger, especially outside of school or as they come to school-leaving age.

With a reading pen like C-Pen Exam Reader 2 as part of their special provisions, learners develop the knowledge that they can self-support and problem-solve, and that they’re able to take on any reading that arises, even if it’s unexpected or under pressure!

Special provisions on a school budget 

Special provisions that include additional personnel like human readers can also be kind of expensive. 

When there’s an ongoing financial commitment, educators soon find that their yearly budget dwindles far faster than expected. And what happens when there are more than one or two learners in the class who need a human reader?

Assistive technology solutions like C-Pen Exam Reader 2 are unique in the reading support game because they save schools money and improve the support experience. They’re discreet, simple and completely consistent, which means that learners who struggle with change never have to deal with a surprise personnel swap on the morning of the exam. 

The power of special provisions in the exam hall

When learners have access to the right assistive technology and special provisions, the exam experience changes for the better. That’s why we’re so proud of C-Pen Exam Reader 2: it opens the doors to comprehension and confidence for learners who might have felt fearful when it comes to exams, or simply begun to believe that education wasn’t for them.

When they can head into the exam hall and focus on the answers, instead of spending an anxiety-filled half hour trying to decode the text and the questions, that’s where achievement happens. 

To find out more about C-Pen Exam Reader 2 and to claim your free trial if you’re a school or college, head over to C-Pen Exam Reader 2 at Scanning Pens!