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Studying with dyslexia

Dyslexia is a learning disorder which is common among students and can impact your studies at Leiden University.

The symptoms of dyslexia include difficulties in spelling, reading quickly or reading large amounts of texts. Some students have trouble with understanding the meaning of written text quickly. This means that studying with Dyslexia may require additional time and effort. Many students study successfully and accomplish many things despite their diagnosis. Leiden University has a range of study adjustments available to support you throughout your studies.

Adaptations can be made to the ways in which you follow classes and take exams. Special arrangements and facilities offered by Leiden University for students with dyslexia are for example:

  • Additional time for exams (10 minutes per hour extra)
  • Examination papers in a larger format
  • Use of laptop for examinations
  • Extensions to assignment deadlines
  • Alternative study plan with a reduced workload
  • Text-to-speech software, that reads your study materials aloud whilst highlighting the text. 
  • Taking personal circumstances into consideration for your BSA (Binding Study Advice)

The adaptations available to you depend on your specific situation. You can discuss this with Fenestra staff. 

Request adaptations

Make an appointment

To arrange special adaptations for your studies, please make an appointment with Fenestra Disability Centre, Leiden University’s information centre for students with a disability.

Exception: additional time for exams

If you only require additional exam time and have an official diagnosis, you can submit a request as follows: 

  1. Make a digital copy of your diagnosis, i.e. a letter issued by a doctor or clinic. This can be either in Dutch or English. If you need to have your diagnosis translated from a different language, mention this when completing the contact form – see next step. 
  2. Complete and submit the contact form (select ‘Additional time for exams’)
After submitting your request
  • Within two weeks, one of our staff members will be in touch with you.
  • Fenestra will notify your faculty of the requested adaptation. Your faculty will then arrange your additional exam time. If you have questions about this, you can contact your study adviser. 
  • For most faculties, these adjustments will automatically continue for all your exams. However, at some faculties you must arrange additional time for each exam individually. Not sure how it works at your faculty? Talk to your study adviser.

Inform your study adviser

Make sure to let your study adviser know that you have requested advice from Fenestra.

The tips below can help you to study more effectively and keep the difficulties caused by your dyslexia to a minimum. Try a few of them to find out what works best for you. Give it a few weeks. Research proves that it takes 21 days to change a habit.

Planning and organising

  • Plan your work well.
  • Use a well-structured agenda.
  • Make sure you have an organised workspace where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Install IT aids when necessary, such as a magnifying screen or special software. Fenestra staff can offer advice.
  • The Pomodoro technique is a good method to help you concentrate on your studies. For periods of 25 minutes you focus intently on your studies, then take a short break and repeat.

Processing study materials

  • Summarise longer texts into a different format such as a list or diagram.
  • Study graphics, diagrams and tables carefully.
  • Repeat what you have read out loud in your own words.
  • Discuss the materials with fellow students to improve your understanding and test what you have learnt.
  • Find out if you text books are available in other formats.

Following lectures

  • Try to find out in advance what the lecturer is going to cover that day so you can look at the materials in advance.
  • Check if the sheets and notes that your lecturer will use are available in the digital learning environment. If not, ask your lecturer for them.
  • Ask your lecturer if you may record the lecture.
  • Ask a fellow student if you may copy his or her notes.
  • You can buy study notes and summaries via SIL and the JoHo.

Written assignments

  • Divide your written assignment into smaller steps and complete them one by one.
  • If you find it hard to order your thoughts, first record your ideas on a voice recorder, then put them on paper.
  • Don’t try to make it perfect first time round. Make a rough version. Once you have all the basics on paper, start working on the style.
  • Ask someone to check and correct your text. This isn’t a sign of weakness. Your lecturers also ask people to edit their work.

Taking exams

  • Prepare well. Practice doing old exam papers and let fellow students test you.
  • Before starting, read the instructions carefully. Check how many questions you must answer and how much time you have.
  • First answer the questions you immediately know the answers to. Then do the questions you find more difficult.
  • Try to remain relaxed. Take short breaks now and then and try doing relaxation exercises. Don’t feel pressurised by the tempo of other students.
  • At the top of essay-type exams, add a brief note explaining that you are dyslexic and apologising for any textual mistakes. Lecturers will take this into consideration.
  • If you frequently run out of time in exams, request extra exam time.

Need a place to study without distractions? In Plexus Student Centre you can find a low-stimulus study room. Upon entering, you will be asked to leave your phone and any other distracting items with a volunteer. You can also borrow noise cancelling headphones and privacy screens.

  • Location: No-cheating room, Plexus Student Centre (2nd floor).
  • Opening times: Tues, Wed, Thur, 10.30 - 18.00.
  • No reservation required - spaces subject to availability.

Guidance & advisors

Fenestra Disability Centre provides advice on all disability-related matters. If you need support in other areas, there are other advisers available.
See all advisers and guidance services

Financial support

Students with a disability can incur additional expenses both during their studies and in daily life. There are a number of regulations, funds and special allowances in place that can help to ease the financial burden.
Read more about financial support

Workshops & courses

Leiden University organises workshops and courses that can help you to improve your study skills.
Take a look at the workshops and courses

Study tips

Leiden University offers study tips that can help you to study more efficiently despite any obstacles brought about by your disability. 
Take a look at the study tips

Healthcare and home care

In some circumstances you might need additional healthcare or home care facilities or support.  
Read more about healthcare and home care


Additional facilities in the home might be both needed and welcome if you have a disability.
Read more about housing

Legal protection

According to the Act on the Equal Treatment of the Disabled and Chronically Ill, it is strictly forbidden to discriminate on the grounds of disability and chronic illness when providing employment, accommodation, goods and services.
Read more about legal protection

Social support

Staying in contact with other students might not always be easy but it is very important. Find out about the different ways in which you can meet other students.

Studying with dyslexia

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