Frequently Asked Questions - Processing speed

Why are the tests in Lucid Exact speeded (i.e. timed rather than untimed)?

In exams students are under the pressure of strict time limits which may pose particular problems for those with difficulties in handwriting, reading or spelling. Indeed, it is for this very reason that students with these difficulties are often allowed extra time by the awarding bodies. Literacy tests that are not speeded do not properly measure the levels of literacy competence of individuals of secondary school age or older, particularly in situations such as examinations. Consequently, all the tests in Lucid Exact include an element of time pressure in order to recreate that feature of exam conditions. Thus in the spelling test there is ample time for students to type each word and correct a simple mistake but not enough time for them to try out a variety of different spellings. In the comprehension test, because dyslexic pupils may have to read and re-read questions a number of times in order to fully understand them, we have not only set a time limit on the whole test, but we have also included a measure of reading comprehension speed, relating to the time taken for the questions to be understood.

The word recognition test in Lucid Exact is timed but JCQ regulations currently specify an untimed test of single word reading, so how can teachers deal with this JCQ requirement?

It will be necessary to supplement Lucid Exact results with the results of a suitable standardised untimed reading accuracy test, for example:

  • Hodder Oral Reading Test
  • WRAT-3 Reading test
  • WRAT-4 Reading Test
  • Woodcock Reading Mastery Test
  • Schonell Reading Test
  • Vernon Reading Test.

When assessing larger groups of students, a time-saving strategy would be to administer Lucid Exact to all students (preferably using the networked version) and then administer a suitable untimed test of single-word reading only to those students whose Exact results indicate that access arrangements would probably be required.

Lucid Exact doesn’t include any tests of cognitive processing. How can these be assessed when applying for access arrangements?

Another Lucid product, Lucid Recall, assesses working memory and processing speed in the age range 7:0 to 16:11. Results from these tests are acceptable measures of cognitive processing when applying for exam access arrangements, provided the student is not older than the test ceiling which is 16 years 11 months.

The current (2014-15) JCQ regulations (Section 5.2.2) state that 25% extra time in examinations may be granted to students who show substantial impairment in literacy or processing speed, i.e. “…at least one below average standardised score of 84 or less which relates to an assessment of:

  • speed of reading; or
  • speed of reading comprehension; or
  • speed of writing; or
  • cognitive processing measures which have a substantial and long term adverse effect on speed of working.”

Cognitive processing assessments would include, for example, investigations of working memory, phonological or visual processing, sequencing problems, organisational problems, visual/motor co-ordination difficulties or other measures as determined appropriate for the individual by a specialist assessor. [JCQ Regulations, Section 7.5.11].

Extra time of up to 25% may be granted where a candidate has cognitive processing difficulties which have a substantial and long term adverse impact on their speed of working. These difficulties will be demonstrated by tests which result in a below average standardised score, i.e. a score of 84 or less. In exceptional circumstances at least two low average standardised scores (85-89) are acceptable. The centre must provide for inspection purposes more extensive supplementary evidence.