Key tips for post 16 year olds with dyslexia | Dyslexia UK

Key tips for post 16 year olds with dyslexia

September 4, 2023 Keir Williams Comments Off

The GCSEs are a challenging set of exams that require a lot of hard work, dedication, and focus. For students who are dyslexic, however, the challenges can be even greater. Dyslexia is a learning disability that can affect a student’s ability to read, write, and process information. It can also impact a student’s ability to complete exams on time or understand the deeper underlying meanings of text.

When GCSE results come in, it can be disheartening to see grades that don’t reflect the amount of revision or verbal knowledge of the subject. This can be particularly frustrating for dyslexic students who may have struggled to read the questions correctly or complete the exam in time without access arrangements. However, it’s important to remember that there are options available if the results don’t reflect the student’s ability.

Re-sitting GCSEs is a common option for students who feel that they didn’t perform to the best of their ability. This can be done either at the existing school or a sixth form college. Choosing the right subjects to resit is important and the step up from GCSE to A level is often a huge one in terms of the amount of reading and written work needed. Being able to use study skills effectively is vitally important here. These involve note taking and being able to find key words in text, as well as the skills of skimming and scanning in order to read information more quickly. Many dyslexic students do not have these skills automatically and tuition in them can make a huge difference at GCSE and A level, where the amount of text being read increases greatly. Mind mapping (using diagrams to represent ideas) either by hand or with the use of software, may help some students plan their work better.

Maths can be a particularly difficult subject for many dyslexic students. It’s not just the concepts that can be challenging, but also the reading and processing of the question being asked. However, there are many dyslexic students who are particularly strong in maths.

It’s important to remember that dyslexia varies in severity, and many dyslexics have average reading and spelling scores but struggle with their short-term memory. This means that cramming for an exam the night before is not an option. Practical support is important for dyslexic students, particularly in helping them manage their time and develop effective study habits.

College or apprenticeships

If you are progressing in your studies, whether at college, 6th form or an apprenticeship, below are some tips that it is useful for school leavers with dyslexia to consider:

  1. You will have to work harder to achieve your goals.

Nearly every dyslexic person I have met has told me about the struggles they faced while working towards their dream jobs. But most will say it was a good thing as it made them stronger as a person which now helps them in their careers.

  • Work to your strengths and find tools and tricks to help with your weaknesses.

Being able to work to your strengths is what’s going to help you to stand out and be recognised for the amazing person you are. So really focus on what you are fantastic at and continue to make your strengths even stronger.

With your weaknesses, you want to approach things from a different angle. For starters, don’t think you need to turn your weaknesses into a strength as you just want to find ways to handle them. For example, my spelling and grammar is total rubbish and no matter how much time I spend trying to perfect it, it will never get any better. So instead of wasting time trying to be the best at spelling and grammar, I use assistive technology to help in those areas. The more tools you can use to compensate for your weaknesses, the more time you have to become better at your strengths. I had a dyslexic university student tell me awhile back that he didn’t use any assistive technology and said that in a way that he was awesome because of this, but he was actually struggling big time as he was making everything harder for himself. So don’t try to be a hero. It’s best to be open to using different assistive tools.

  • Find ways to create opportunities, don’t wait for opportunities to come to you.

If there is one thing I see people doing, it’s waiting for opportunities to come to them. Putting yourself out there for the world to see is the only way people will see you for the amazing person you are.

Progressing to University

Many students start university without knowing they are dyslexic, as the strategies they have in place just manage to support them through GCSE and A Level. However, at university level, the demands increase greatly, and it can be difficult for dyslexic students to keep up without support.

Fortunately, there are many resources available for dyslexic students at university. These include assistive technology such as text-to-speech software and spell checkers, as well as learning support services such as one-on-one tutoring and study skills workshops.

It’s important for dyslexic students to remember that they are not alone and that there are resources available to help them succeed. Dyslexia is not a reflection of intelligence, and with the right support, dyslexic students can achieve great things.

See here for more on dyslexia and GCSE results:

To read more about tools that can help students study at University, read this:

For advice on careers for people with dyslexia see this blog:

Alternatively to discuss your concerns with a dyslexia assessor, please contact us at: