Diagnostic Assessments for Dyslexia

Questions and Answers

Q1. What is a Diagnostic Assessment?

A: A Diagnostic Assessment uses a comprehensive range of recognised standardised tests to find out an individual’s underlying strengths and weaknesses.  It is the only way to provide a diagnosis of dyslexia.


Q2. How long does a Diagnostic Assessment take?

A: A Diagnostic Assessment takes between 3 and 4 hours because more than 20 tests are conducted.  A short break for drink and a snack will be given.


Q3. Who is able to do Diagnostic Assessments?

A: Diagnostic Assessments can only be conducted by Educational Psychologists and Specialist Teachers who have a current Assessment Practising Certificate (APC).  Carol Shepherd is the Specialist Teacher at Cellfield who has a current APC.


Q4. Can other learning difficulties be diagnosed?

A: Carol may use a questionnaire to investigate difficulties which are associated with ADHD and dyspraxia, but she is not qualified to diagnose learning difficulties such as autism, ADHD or dyspraxia, as these are medical rather than educational difficulties, so require a different type of assessment.


Q5. Can my child get extra time in their exams if they are dyslexic?

A: This is not necessarily the case.  Please note that you must speak to the school first before booking a Diagnostic Assessment.  If the school supports the Diagnostic Assessment as part of the application for Exam Access Arrangements, the school SENCO will need to complete the relevant questionnaire beforehand. 

NB Following recent changes to the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) guidance for Access Arrangements 2017/18, please be aware: “7.3.6 A privately commissioned assessment carried out without prior consultation with the centre cannot be used to award Access Arrangements and cannot be used to process an application using Access Arrangements Online.”


Q6.  If my child is dyslexic, how can they be helped?

A: The Diagnostic Assessment report includes a Recommendations section.  This contains specific guidance for the school and parents.

At our Kip McGrath Tuition Centre in Brentwood, the Cellfield reading treatment programme has produced outstanding improvements in reading, comprehension, spelling and memory skills in just 2 weeks, and has proved effective even for children for whom other methods have failed.  

Our Tuition Centre also offers weekly tuition, mock exams and holiday workshops.


Q7: My child is going to university next year.  How do we arrange for them to get support?

A: You will need to provide a Diagnostic Assessment Report.  If this is pre 2019, it should have been completed after your child turned 16Go online to apply for your main loans and grants and tick the button to apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA’s).   It takes, on average, over 10 weeks from applying for DSAs to receiving support.  Applying for DSAs early means students can get their support in place before the start of term.


Q8: Why are Diagnostic Assessments so expensive?

Diagnostic Assessments are very rigorous in terms of the tests that are stipulated and the people who are allowed to carry them out.  The tests are very expensive and so are the ongoing training and qualifications required for the assessors. 

The actual assessment and report writing process also takes many hours’ work.


Q9: What ages will you do a Diagnostic Assessment for?

A: Children should be aged 8 and over for the full Diagnostic Assessment.  (However, they can do the Cellfield programme from age 7 and Dyslexia Screening Test from age 6 and a half).  Adults can also have a Diagnostic Assessment, or do the Cellfield programme and Dyslexia Screening Test.