When to Recommend a Memory Aid

Student Accessibility Services at the University of Guelph relies on the Regional Assessment and Resource Centre (RARC) and the Northern Ontario Assessment and Resource Centre (NOARC) for expert advice on the appropriate use of memory aids as an academic accommodation in a post-secondary setting.

Consistent with most other universities in the province, we have adopted the recommended criteria for assessing measures that evaluate memory and the need for memory aids. The first six items below come from that expert advice, and the seventh has emerged from discussions with our colleagues at other universities.


Post-Secondary Sector Criteria to Permit Use of Memory Aids and Formula Sheets

Criterion 1: Objective evidence must demonstrate the performance validity of memory test scores.

Criterion 2: Low scores on measures of working memory or short-term memory are not sufficient evidence to support the need for a memory aid accommodation.

Cirterion 3: The assessment must demonstrate that actual learning took place.  For any students who have problems with attention, memory tests such as the WRAML and WMS may be primarily assessing attention not memory.

Criterion 4: When evaluating the meaning of low delayed memory scores, the clinician must use a test that controls for initial amount learned or make these calculations manually.

Criterion 5: If delayed memory is impaired (controlling for initial amount learned), the memory test administered must confirm that memory cues significantly improved memory – that the difference between the student’s spontaneous recollection and cued recollection is significantly larger than it is for other students (e.g., normed comparisons).

Criterion 6: Clinical reports must be clear in stating that the recommended memory aids may not be appropriate in every course, and that the professor has the final say regarding whether this accommodation is reasonable for their course.

Criterion 7: Results on standardized achievement tests, e.g. tests in reading, writing and mathematics, must indicate a long-term memory impairment.

If you would like more information about these criteria, please see a recently published article by researchers at Queens University:  Harrison, A.G., Holmes, A., & Pollock, B. (2021).  Memory aids as a disability-related accommodation?  Let’s remember to recommend them appropriately for post-secondary education. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 36(3), 255-272.  

Important: Tests & Exams

If you use the SAS Exam Centre, please remember that all test and exam bookings must be submitted at least 10 BUSINESS DAYS ahead of when you intend to write.

In addition, the last day any bookings can be received is the first business day in November, March or July as appropriate for the semester.
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