Signs of dyslexia

Dyslexia is often described in terms of difficulties with reading and spelling, but in fact dyslexia is about information processing, so can impact on areas such as memory and organisation as well. It’s important to remember that dyslexia is a combination of abilities and challenges, and that having dyslexia is not related to intelligence.

If you are finding areas of learning at University challenging, and you wonder if it might be related to dyslexia, then take a look at the signs below and consider if they apply to you. You can also find out more information from the British Dyslexia Association.

If you think you have dyslexia, or another SpLD, then you can make an appointment to see one of our Specialist Study Skills Tutors for a screening. Book a free screening by emailing or calling (01603) 977977.

Dyslexic learners may experience a combination of the following:

In tutorials and lectures

  • Tiredness: language based tasks require a lot of effort for dyslexic people. May experience information overload.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Difficulty in taking notes simultaneously whilst listening.
  • Difficulty with copying from screen/board.

Oral presentations

  • Difficulty in communicating clearly and concisely.
  • Mispronouncing multi-syllabic words. (E.g. preliminary).
  • Losing the train of thought.
  • Unable to handle questioning effectively.
  • Unable to read their own notes.

Workshop/ studio

  • Difficulty in following instructions and sequences.
  • May become stressed.
  • May appear to be disorganised.
  • Possible clumsiness.


  • Difficulty in getting ideas on to paper
  • Misinterprets the brief or essay title
  • Lack of coherence when presenting ideas in writing;  ideas, words and structure get all ‘jumbled up.’ Despite this, the answers are often contained within the piece of writing.
  • Lack of structure in written work. Tendency to ‘go off at tangents’ and get diverted from main points.
  • Long, rambling sentences; incomplete sentences; confusion about verb tenses.
  • Difficulty in ‘word retrieval’ – finding the right word to use. May use a limited vocabulary as learners can avoid words they cannot spell.
  • Difficulty in understanding use of punctuation and capital letters.
  • Poor handwriting.
  • Cannot proofread own work.


  • Spells phonetically e.g. nessissery (necessary); berlidurant (belligerent).
  • Confusion over homophones and other similar words – their/there; where/were; who/how etc.
  • Letters put in the wrong order.
  • Variations on spelling of the same word in a document.


  • May avoid the library in general and/or have a general anxiety about books.
  • Difficulties with using a system that relies on numbers and letters that do not ‘mean anything’.
  • Difficulties with reading: unable to quickly scan texts for meaning.
  • Takes longer to read books and may exceed due date for return, due to forgetfulness.
  • Embarrassment about approaching staff to help them.

For more information on support related to your studies see the Student Support pages on the intranet.