Graduate Student’s Guide to Test Accommodations: The LSAT, MCAT, GRE, NCLEX, CBEST, GMAT, Cosmetology Exam, Contractors Exam, & Bar Exam
If you’re facing a high stakes test at the graduate or post-graduate level, you’re no stranger to overcoming challenges. You’ve worked your tail off to get to where you are and know that no obstacle can stop you from reaching your goals. However, if you have a health condition or learning disability that impacts your testing performance, you may be concerned that you won’t be able to show your true knowledge on exam day. Luckily, there are several accommodations available to level the playing field for eligible students.
So what does a person need to do receive accommodations on graduate exams?
1. Know your rights
You may think that because you are taking exams for a high-level career, that you may not be eligible for the same accommodations afforded to high school students. The Americans with Disabilities Act, however, states that students with disabilities who graduate from professional programs are entitled to reasonable accommodations in the licensing process.
2. Stay ahead of deadlines
If you anticipate that you’ll need testing accommodations, don’t wait until the last minute to look into it. The approval process for accommodations takes a minimum of 6 weeks, and that does not include the time it will for take you to gather the documentation required to submit your request. Stay ahead of the game by preparing your request well in advance of registration deadlines. Check out these links to view upcoming deadlines of some common high stakes tests at the graduate or post graduate level:
LSAT (Nationwide testing calendar)
MCAT (Nationwide testing calendar)
GRE (Nationwide testing calendar)
NCLEX (Appointment – based)
GMAT (Appointment – based)
California Cosmetology Exam (Test date is assigned within 40 days of receiving admission letter after submitting this linked application)
CBEST (California testing calendar)
California Bar Exam (California testing calendar)
California Contractors State Licensing Exam (Test date is assigned)
3. Learn how to register
If you are requesting accommodations, you will likely need to register for your exam prior to submitting your request. Check out these links for step-by-step registration instructions for applicants requesting accommodations on these high stakes tests:
4. Learn what’s available
There are a variety of accommodations offered for eligible students. The types of accommodations available depend on the specific testing demands of each exam. Some common accommodations include, but are not limited to:
Additional time to complete exams
Large print or Braille exam books
Use of computers for writing portions
Private or small group testing
Dictation to a typist or recording device
Use of a scribe
Ability to pace or take walks
Use of magnification devices
Ability to bring medications and/or food and drinks
Voice recognition software
5. Learn what’s not
To approve accommodations, all exam administrators require that your impairment must clearly impact your test-taking ability in some way. Some disabilities that are not commonly accepted are impairments in walking or other physical movement unrelated to writing. Certain psychiatric conditions that do not clearly impair test-taking ability, such as a phobia of spiders, may not be eligible for accommodated testing.
6. Think back to other exams
Some exam providers, such as the LSAT, will often approve any accommodations that you were provided during other exams such as the SAT or ACT. If you received accommodations on any post-secondary exams, contact your previous test administrator and request a letter that details the specific accommodations that you were provided. Keep in mind, however, that you may need additional documentation beyond your past accommodations. Other test administrators, such as the MCAT, have much stricter documentation requirements than the SAT or ACT.
7. Find an expert
While each test administrator has varying policies on what they require, they all share common ground in this: your disability or health condition must be documented by a qualified specialist. From your academic experience, you may have a thorough grasp on your challenges and what accommodations you need to succeed, but you will still need them validated by an expert to receive approval from your test administrator.
Click here to schedule your complimentary 15-minute testing accommodations consultation
8. Get documentation
It’s important to review the specific documentation requirements of your test administrator, as incomplete documentation packets will either be denied or returned as incomplete. A Specialist in Educational Psychology can help you prepare your documentation packet. Most test administrators will require certified documentation explaining the following:
Your diagnosis and specific impairments
A description of the evaluative measures used to determine your diagnosis
An explanation of how your impairments limit your functioning during tests
Recommended accommodations with a rationale for each recommendation
9. Apply early
Once you’ve compiled all of your necessary documentation, apply well in advance of your exam’s deadlines. This will not only give ample time for the application to be reviewed, but will also allow you some time to appeal the decision if your request is denied or returned for having incomplete documentation.
10. Get support
Being faced with a high stakes exam is stressful enough, and worrying about securing your accommodations can prevent you from focusing on mastering your material. Our specialists at Variations Psychology can guide you through the accommodations process, provide you with necessary documentation required for your exam, and help you secure your accommodation needs.
Dr. Marta M. Shinn, Ph.D., is an expert in educational psychology. Dr. Shinn can evaluate for impairments or learning disabilities that impact your test taking ability and provide you with necessary documentation and support to secure exam accommodations.
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Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).
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