Alternative mode of assessment

 Outweighing disadvantages

Alternative modes of assessment allow for exams that

  • cover the same contents;
  • require the same performance;
  • but are held in a different/flexible mode.

The aim is to design exams and courses in such a way that affected students do not experience disadvantages due to their impairment.

An alternative mode of assessment does not mean that

  • the affected students' achievements are not assessed;
  • affected students are given an advantage;
  • the examiners “turn a blind eye” or that
  • studies are made easier for the affected students (“being carried through the degree programme”).

The changed mode of assessment comes closest to the initially intended mode while taking the student’s impairment into account. This is what makes studying for people with disabilities (creating more equal opportunities) possible in the first place.  



Exam types and examples

 Types of exams

Any type of exam and proof of performance can have an alternative mode of assessment. This includes exams that take place on site as well as in digital or hybrid form.

Examples of exam types where alternative examination methods can be arranged include:

  • Oral exams
  • Written exams
  • Multiple-choice examinations
  • Intermediate tests
  • Presentations
  • Active participation (e.g., discussions)
  • Lab work
  • Submissions (e.g., essays, final papers)
  • Excursions, trips, museum visits, etc.



When does which alternative mode make sense?

The points listed below serve as examples only. Which different testing methods make sense for you personally must be assessed individually.

Please note that different examination methods can always be guaranteed in coordination with the learning objectives of the respective curriculum and the feasibility.


  • Attention- or concentration-disorders

    Extension of examination time; Examination in a separate room; extension of submission deadlines; using noise-cancelling headphones; Using a timer during exams; Possibility to use highlighters for written exams

  • Autism spectrum

    Written instead of oral exams; written alternative partial service instead of presentations/oral contributions; using noise-canceling headphones; Consideration of expression difficulties, avoidant eye contact, motor restlessness, strange-seeming behavior; Consideration of the difficulty regarding interpretation and one's own expression via facial expressions, gestures and speech melody

  • Anxiety/Panic

    Written alternative partial service instead of presentations/oral contributions; extension of examination time; Possibility to take a break during the exam; Compensation service instead of participation in excursions; Individual work instead of group work; extended absences; Permission to leave the room without comment if necessary; Possibility of completing the oral examination with as few people present as possible; Seat near the exit

  • Speech impairment

    Written instead of oral exams; Written alternative partial service instead of presentations/oral contributions

  • Reading and spelling difficulties

    Use of a laptop for written exams, extension of exam time for written exams; Possibility to use highlighters for written exams

  • Fine motor impairment

    Use of a laptop for written exams, extension of exam time

  • Visual impairment

    Using a laptop for written exams; Extension of examination time for written examinations; barrier-free preparation of examination/course documents; Enlargement of examination documents; writing assistant for written exams; Provision of the examination documents in a Word file

  • Hearing impairment

    Austrian sign language interpreters for oral examinations; written instead of oral exams

Procedure for claiming an alternative mode of assessment

Exams can be modified in two ways to meet your needs based on your impairment:

  • Option 1: Direct communication and an agreement with the lecturer/examiner
  • Option 2: Submitting an application to the directorate of studies (SPL) [JP1] and presenting this application to the lecturer/examiner

In some cases, submitting a formal application (option 2) can make more sense and/or be necessary. Please discuss your situation with your teachers/examiners and/or the Accessible Studying Team or the responsible directorate of studies. Please read the regulations by the individual directorates of studies (SPL) (links below) and check whether your SPL recommends one of the two options.

Consider which alternative mode of assessment might be most useful and effective for you to outweigh the disadvantages you experience.

Option 1: Direct communication with the lecturer or examiner

Piktogramm Sprechblasen

  1. Discuss the necessary alternative modes of assessment – as soon as possible – with your lecturers/examiners directly and agree on the practical implementation.
  2. Together, record what you agreed on in writing (e.g. via e-mail to ensure that all parties involved are well-informed and that the agreement is also transparent for others in the future).
  3. If you are asked to provide evidence of your impairment because it is not obvious, please read the information about the provision of evidence (in German).

Option 2: Submission of an application to the directorate of studies (SPL)

Piktogramm Dokument

  1. For your application, you require a medical certificate providing evidence of your impairment issued by a medical specialist.
  2. Fill out the application form under the section "Personal Information" and the point 2.
    No explanation of your situation is necessary in the application form! The Team Barrierefrei can assist you with the application process.
  3. Decide if you
    • wish to submit the application form to the Team Barrierefrei. On the application form, the Team Barrierefrei will note the relevant impairments in point 1. Afterward, you will receive the application form back and can submit it to the SPL, who is responsible for the final decision.
    • wish to submit the application form, along with the evidence of impairment, directly to the responsible SPL
    • Please note: You have to submit a separate application for each degree programme (as well as for each extension curriculum (EC) and teaching subject) to the responsible SPL (for example, separate applications for the degree programmes in Chemistry, Sport and History).
  4. Wait for possible enquiries and/or a notification e-mail informing you about the decision.
  5. When your application has been granted, you can agree on the practical implementation of the alternative mode of assessment with your teachers/examiners.
    • Please contact them as soon as possible.
    • Together, record in writing what you and your teachers/examiners agreed on (e.g. via e-mail to ensure that all parties involved are well-informed and that the agreement is also transparent for others in the future).
    • Please note that the application process may take up to 6 weeks!

 Required documents

To apply for alternative modes of assessment, you need the following documents:

  1. A specialist medical/clinical psychological/psychotherapeutic certificate confirming a study-relevant  impairment. This can be, for example, a document stating a diagnosis (such as ADHD, blindness). Alternatively, you can use the diagnosis-free form.

  2. The application form for alternative modes of assessment, filled out under the sections "Personal Information" and "Point 2."

Additional information regarding the required evidence can be found at the following link: Further Information on evidence of impairment (in German).

Regulations by individual directorates of studies (SPL)

Procedure for individual degree programmes, extension curricula or teaching subjects

Overview and contacts

SPL 01, SPL 02, SPL 03, SPL 04, SPL 05, SPL 06, SPL 07, SPL 08, SPL 09SPL 10, SPL 11, SPL 12, SPL 13  (FUSK), SPL 14 (AF), SPL 15, SPL 16, SPL 17, SPL 18SPL 19SPL 20, SPL 21, SPL 22, SPL 23, SPL 24, SPL 25, SPL 26, SPL 27, SPL 28, SPL 29, SPL 30, SPL 31, SPL 32, SPL 33, SPL 34SPL 35, SPL 36, SPL 37, SPL 38, SPL 39, SPL 40, SPL 41, SPL 42, SPL 43, SPL 44, SPL 45, SPL 46, SPL 47, SPL 48SPL 49

Reporting your needs in due time

If your application is granted or if you received a “letter of recommendation” (issued until February 2020), your teachers/examiners are not automatically notified and you are not automatically registered in the relevant university system.

A granted application merely confirms your right to the alternative mode of assessment and provides a solid basis for communication. You have to independently contact your lecturers/examiners in all your courses/exams and inform them that you require an alternative mode of assessment. This is also due to reasons of data protection. Furthermore, some impairments occur in episodes or phases. Therefore, affected students might not have the same needs at all times. An automated system could not take this into account.

Therefore, contact your lecturer or examiner as soon as possible to discuss your needs.

Legal framework at the University of Vienna

According to section 59, para. 1, item 12 of the 2002 Universities Act (in German), degree programme students and non-degree programme students with an impairment that directly affects their studies have the right to alternative modes of assessment.

In addition, the Statutes of the University of Vienna specify that there are equal opportunities for people with a disability and/or a chronic illness.

You can find the detailed legal texts on the Accessible University of Vienna portal (in German).