The spoken word beats pen and paper to bring A-level success

SPOKEN WORD: Aidan Clancy wearing the headset and microphone he used to take his A levels at Ripon Grammar School

SPOKEN WORD: Aidan Clancy wearing the headset and microphone he used to take his A levels at Ripon Grammar School

First published in News Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by

THE voice was mightier than the pen for student Aidan Clancy when he sat his A-levels.

For he spoke rather than wrote all his answers – and achieved A grades in all three subjects.

Aidan, 18, has severe dyslexia and dyspraxia and his performance suffers if he has to write exam answers conventionally.

So he used high-tech voice recognition technology when he sat the exams - classics, economics and history - at Ripon Grammar School.

And when his friends were in the exam hall, he was in a separate room wearing a headset linked to a laptop – unconnected to the internet - and speaking into a microphone.

“The technology allows me to put down on paper what's in my head, said Aidan, of Ripley, who was identified as being dyslexic at primary school.

“I tried to take my AS exams last year in the normal way because it had worked OK for my GCSEs. But A-levels are a big step up.

“After the AS exams, which included three in one day totalling five hours and 47 minutes, my hand was aching really badly, I was exhausted and I really under-performed.

“We thought there must be a solution using technology. We found out about the voice recognition software and I re-sat my ASs using it and did so much better. I’m nowhere near as tired after an exam and no longer get the headaches.”

The software, Dragon Naturally Speaking, recognises the spoken words and translates them into a word document, allowing the speaker to check them and cut and paste paragraphs if necessary.

Aidan, who’s dad is a surveyor and mum is a housewife, is now going to Newcastle University to read history.


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