Students with exam assistance for ADHD, dyslexia reaches all-time high

Boys twice as likely as girls to request O-level exam arrangements, with 19% hailing from independent schools, in contrast with less than 14% from state schools

Male students were twice as likely as females to request ‘examination access arrangements’ (EEAs) when sitting for their O-levels, and chiefly, students hailing from private independent schools, a statistical report by MATSEC reveals.

In 2021, 679 candidates were given EAAs, which is equivalent to 13.5% of all registrations. But while 18.4% of male students requested these arrangements, only 9.3% of female candidates register for EAAs.

The difference between the sexes is explained by research showing that boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed with conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

EAA Registrations
2004 1.6%
2005 2.2%
2006 2.8%
2007 3.0%
2008 3.1%
2009 4%
2010 4.7%
2011 5.6%
2012 6.8%
2013 8.7%
2014 9.4%
2015 9.9%
2016 9.8%
2017 10%
2018 10.9%
2019 10.8%
2020 12.4%
2021 13.5%

Applications by candidates with special needs are processed by the ACCESS-Disability Support Committee of the University of Malta that suggests appropriate arrangements so that these candidates are enabled to take the examinations while being, as much as possible, on par with other candidates.

EAAs come in various forms according to the condition of the student and include extra time, rest periods, modified papers, large print, provision of amanuenses, communicators and readers, as well as special instructions to examiners of oral components, invigilators and markers. These arrangements have made it possible for a larger number of students to continue their education.

A large number of those applying for these arrangements suffer from conditions like ADHD, dyslexia and autism. In fact in 2021, 257 of students requesting EEAs suffered from specific learning difficulties related to dyslexia while 191 suffered from specific learning difficulties related to ADHD.

The percentage of candidates registering for access arrangement has now shot up from just 1.6% of all candidates in 2004 to 6.8% in 2012 to 13.5% in 2021.

Educators consider EEAs as essential in giving equal opportunities to everyone irrespective of the difficulties they face.

The largest number of applications for EAA were made by students from private independent schools. While less then 15% of students from state schools requested EAAs, 19% of students from independent schools requested these arrangements, a statistics showing more students suffering such conditions in private schools will be likely to sit for exams.

While in sessions prior to 2018 candidates from Gozo schools were more likely to qualify for EAAs, this trend was not repeated from 2018 onwards.

A large segment of candidates registering for EEAs were sitting for vocational subjects: 250 of the 976 candidates (25.6%) registering for one or more SEC vocational subjects applied for EAAs, namely Agribusiness (42.9%), Engineering Technology (32.5%), Hospitality (26.6%), Information Technology (23.6%), Media Literacy (22.7%) and Health and Social Care (20.8%).