The timing of GCSE, A-level and university exams could be brought forward under controversial plans so they do not clash with the Islamic month of Ramadan.
If approved, schools, colleges and universities would set the exams earlier so Muslim students would not be fasting during daylight hours when they sit them.
Other proposals include giving fasting students extra marks under “special consideration” rules, or setting exams for morning sessions when they are less likely to be hungry.
Teachers and lecturers in England and Wales are lobbying for the changes for 2016 when Ramadan, which falls earlier each year, starts to clash with the exam season.
This will coincide with the reintroduction of O-level style exams that will replace GCSEs, which have regular testing throughout the syllabus.
Barry Lingard, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers union, said: “The consequences are quite huge, particularly with the return to three-hour exams at the end of the course in the summer. If some of the big vital exams, such as English and maths, could be rescheduled for before Ramadan kicks in, that would be supported by most teachers.”
Muslim groups have already met exam watchdog Ofqual and the Joint Council for Qualifications, which represents the three main exam boards, to discuss the idea.
School exam boards and universities are considering the suggestions and the issue will be debated at the ATL union conference this month.
There has been further support from the Government-funded Equality Challenge Unit. A spokesman for the body, which advises higher education, said: “Institutions should be prepared to consider significant adjustments to exam schedules.”
But Chris McGovern, a former headteacher and spokesman for the Campaign for Real Education, does not welcome the initiative.
He said: “I don’t think it is realistic for a board to rearrange their time-table to fit in with a minority religion, or any religion for that matter.
“If you run exams in the morning because of this, you may be disadvantaging a non-Muslim pupil who then has two exams in one day rather than one.”