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Implementing Academic Accommodations

A guide for course instructors/departments/schools on implementing common academic accommodations in post secondary

What is a Memory Aid Accommodation?

This rare accommodation refers to information that students, whose long term memory retrieval is impaired due to a disability, are permitted to bring and use during an exam/midterm/in-class test/quiz. These students have a documented medical condition or learning disability that results in a significant memory deficit. These students generally have great difficulty retrieving information from memory even though they have carefully studied and understood the material.

There are two types of memory aids:

  • Cue Sheet: a document containing information that serves as 'triggers' to help cue a student's recollection of previously learned information
  • Formula Sheet: a document containing formulae. Formulae refers to a set of rules or principles that are expressed using symbols, figures, or both. Students are permitted a formula sheet only on exams/tests that assess students on their application, as opposed to recollection, of formula.

A memory aid accommodation is not:

  • A substitute for studying or exemption from mastering course material
  • Answers to exam or test questions, a study or answer sheet
  • Course notes or copies of course slides
  • Lists of specific facts, details, or concepts upon which students are being tested for their recollection
  • Instructions, steps, or specific examples.
  • Essential information, for example, theoretical information about the relationships among concepts (such as in a purely definitional formula).
  • Generally, do not include conversion.
  • If the student does not know the course material, the memory aid will not be beneficial.
  • The accommodation is not intended to reduce academic requirements or alter the standards by which academic performance is assessed.

This accommodation appears on the student's Faculty Notification (letter of accommodation) as: Permission to use a memory aid as pre-approved by the instructor. 'Cue Sheet,' 'Formula Sheet,' or both will be specified on the student's letter.

All memory aids must be reviewed and approved by instructors with adequate advance notice giving course instructors time to review and consider (see below).

Who Can Receive a Memory Aid Accommodation?

Students with a disability that interferes with their spontaneous retrieval of learned information may have this accommodation.

  • CAL will only recommend a memory aid if a certified healthcare professional with specific expertise assessing memory deficits has provided evidence of the impact on the relevant functional abilities of the student
  • this documentation describes what memory assessment was performed
  • this documentation provides evidence that other strategies to improve memory would not be sufficient.

How Does This Accommodation Work?

Students approved for this accommodation are strongly encouraged to book an appointment with a Camosun Learning Skills, Learning Specialist, for guidance on how to create a memory aid.

  • Students must submit their draft memory aid to their instructor for review and approval at least 10 business days* in advance of the exam/test/midterm
  • Instructors are within their right to disallow a student the use of a memory aid that presents any risk to academic integrity, or if they were not given sufficient time for review.
  • *For Summer and/or other condensed terms or courses, the student and professor may need to negotiate a different but reasonable timeline for review of the memory aid in time for scheduled tests, midterms, or exams.

Steps in Preparing for the Memory Aid Accommodation

When a student has a memory aid accommodation on their Faculty Notification letter (their academic accommodation letter):

  • Student creates and submits the memory aid to instructor 10 business days in advance of exam date.
  • Instructor communicates with a formal reply to their student if the memory aid is approved or requests changes to content if it undermines the essential learning requirements for the course, or provides an unfair advantage.
  • Students are responsible for making changes as requested by the course instructor and re-submitting the final copy to the course instructor at least 5 working days before the exam. It is not the responsibility of the instructor to correct content errors on students' memory aids.
  • If an instructor approves a memory aid for an exam, instructors please sign it as approved and attach it to the exam or email it directly to This ensures the integrity of the exam.
  • The approved memory aid, along with all other exam materials, will be provided to the student in the accommodated exam venue
  • All materials used in the exam will become part of the exam submission and will be returned to the course instructor with the completed test or exam.
  • Students must follow these steps for every test and exam in the course.

*Note to Instructors: Formula sheets that are not provided in these ways will not be given to your students. For example if the student just shows up to an accommodated exam with CAL with a sheet that has not been signed by you, the student will not be allowed to use it.