Disability Services

Application of Accommodations

Memory Aid Cue Card Accommodation

What is a memory aid?

A memory aid or cue sheet is a non-mandated testing accommodation used to support students with documented cognitive issues related to a disability. It is a tool used to trigger information that a student has studied but may have difficulty recalling due to cognitive processing deficits in association with memory and recall.

The cue sheet allows the student to demonstrate knowledge of course material by helping prompt the student’s memory: not by providing the answer. Cue sheets should only provide memory clues for the student to recall the concepts they have studied, and would not be useful if the student hasn't learned the material.

If remembering specific information on the cue sheet is deemed to be an essential learning objective/outcome of the course, memory aid should not be allowed. For example, if the learning objective/outcome of the course is to know the formula, it should not be allowed on the cue sheet; however if the learning objective/outcome of the course is to demonstrate the ability to apply the formula, then the formula could be allowed on the cue sheet.

Cue sheets must be reviewed and approved by the Instructor of the course. The reason for this is because the Instructor determines the learning objectives and essential requirements of the class. Instructors must review the cue sheet. Instructors may choose to remove memory clues that are deemed essential learning objectives/outcomes for the course.

Note: It is understood that some courses may not lend themselves to the use of cue sheets.

Instructors are not responsible for devising/creating memory aids--it is the student’s responsibility to prepare the aid and have it approved by the Instructor. The Disability Services office should be made aware of this agreement by the student.

There is a difference between Attention disorders and Memory disorders. For clarification, attention disorders usually have different accommodations such as extended test times and/or low distraction testing environments.

Since attention disorders (such as ADHD) affect attention ability (not memory), other accommodations are given instead. Attention deficits are difficult, however, they can be made up with further studying of any material given in class and by doing the readings and assignments to keep up with whatever may have been missed due to attention span and difficulty focusing. Memory aids, therefore, are not the needed accommodation. Memory aids are only for those with longer term memory deficit disorders.

Memory deficits may require memory aids. Attention deficits do not.

Memory Aids DO NOT:

  • Have steps listed for how to work problems
  • Exceed one half page of 8 ½ x11” paper
  • Include specific examples how formulas are used
  • Include copied pages from textbooks
  • Include student’s class notes, lectures notes, or slides
  • Include complete terms and definitions
  • Include access to homework in the testing environment
  • Open textbooks
  • Serve as a substitute for studying

Memory aids are typically small, such as 3”x 5”in index card. Accommodation for memory aid size can be adjusted for those with a visual disability who made need a larger amount of space to read.

At the discretion of the instructor, the memory aids may or may not include:

Acronyms; short phrases; pictures; schematic diagram; formulas; names; definitions; tables; sample questions; key terms/work charts


  1. Student meets with DS office to discuss request and need for memory aid.
  2. The student provides the cue sheet to the instructor for editing and final approval, at least 4 days prior to the test/exam.
  3. Instructor then:
    1. Approves the cue sheet as is
    2. Removes information that the Instructor has deemed inappropriate
    3. Disallow the cue sheet altogether because the memory triggers are deemed to be essential to the learning objectives/outcomes for the course

Testing Center:

  1. For students receiving this accommodation and also approved for and opt to take their exams in the Testing Center, the mutually agreed upon cue sheet will be sealed with the exam and provided to Testing Center staff. Students cannot bring other course materials into the Testing Center testing room unless previously approved by the Instructor.
  2. Once a student completes the test/exam at the Testing Center, the test/exam and cue sheet will be returned to the Instructor.