How To Get Testing Accommodations for Standardized Tests

If you have a disability or a condition that might impact your performance under standard testing conditions, it's crucial to secure the appropriate accommodations to ensure you can demonstrate your abilities effectively.

Kahina Beasley (Louis), Psy.D.
How To Get Testing Accommodations for Standardized Tests

When preparing for significant exams like the GRE, MCAT, or BAR, your focus is often on mastering the material. However, if you have a disability or a condition that might impact your performance under standard testing conditions, it's crucial to secure the appropriate accommodations to ensure you can demonstrate your abilities effectively. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you navigate this process successfully.

Step 1: Understand Your Rights

First, familiarize yourself with your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. These laws mandate that standardized tests must be accessible to all individuals, and accommodations must be provided to ensure fairness.

Step 2: Determine Your Needs

Identify the specific accommodations you require. Common accommodations include:

  • Extended time
  • Extra breaks
  • A separate testing room
  • Screen readers or braille tests
  • Physical aids (e.g., ergonomic chairs, adjustable desks)

Step 3: Obtain a Psychological Evaluation

A psychological evaluation can be a pivotal part of your accommodations request, especially for conditions like ADHD, learning disabilities, or anxiety disorders. Here's how it can help:

  • Comprehensive Assessment: A psychological evaluation provides a detailed understanding of your cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning. This can pinpoint specific challenges you face during standardized testing.
  • Professional Documentation: The evaluation includes formal documentation from a licensed psychologist, which is critical for substantiating your need for accommodations.
  • Personalized Recommendations: Based on your assessment, the psychologist can recommend specific accommodations tailored to your needs, making your request more precise and compelling.
  • Historical Context: If you've had previous evaluations, updating them ensures they reflect your current needs and conditions. This continuity can strengthen your application.

Step 4: Gather Additional Documentation

In addition to a psychological evaluation, gather any other relevant documentation:

  • A detailed letter from a licensed professional (e.g., doctor, psychologist) outlining your diagnosis and the recommended accommodations.
  • A history of past accommodations received (e.g., in school or previous standardized tests).
  • Any relevant medical or psychological evaluation reports.

Step 5: Research Test-Specific Requirements

Each standardized test has its own process for requesting accommodations:

GRE Accommodations

  • Contact ETS Disability Services: Visit the ETS website and navigate to the GRE section for test-takers with disabilities.
  • Submit Your Request: Complete the Test Accommodations Request Form and gather all necessary documentation.
  • Deadlines: Submit your application as early as possible, ideally at least six weeks before your desired test date.

MCAT Accommodations

  • Visit the AAMC Accommodations Page: The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) handles accommodations for the MCAT.
  • Documentation Guidelines: Follow their specific guidelines for submitting documentation.
  • Submit Your Request Online: Use the MCAT Accommodations Online system to submit your request and track its status.
  • Timing: Submit your request well in advance, preferably several months before your planned test date, as reviews can take 60 days or more.

BAR Exam Accommodations

  • State-Specific Procedures: Each state has its own board of bar examiners with specific processes and requirements.
  • Research Your State: Visit your state’s bar examiner website for detailed instructions.
  • Early Submission: Since the review process can be lengthy, start your application process early—often six months to a year in advance of your test date.

Step 6: Plan for Test Day

Once your accommodations are approved, confirm all the details. Ensure you know exactly what to expect on test day and communicate with the testing center if necessary. Prepare any special materials or arrangements you might need.

Tips for Success

  • Be Proactive: Start the accommodation request process as early as possible. Delays in documentation or reviews can affect your test schedule.
  • Stay Organized: Keep all your documentation and correspondence neatly filed. This will make the process smoother and reduce stress.
  • Advocate for Yourself: If your initial request is denied, don't hesitate to appeal the decision. Provide additional documentation if necessary and clearly explain how the accommodations will help level the playing field.

Get Tested for Academic Accommodations in Hallandale, FL

By following these steps and leveraging the insights from a psychological evaluation, you can ensure that you have the necessary support to perform your best on your standardized tests. Remember, accommodations are there to provide equal opportunities, so take advantage of them to showcase your true potential.

If you or someone you know is in need of academic accommodations, please contact us to schedule a consultation.