Testing Accommodations

Challenges in Passing High Stakes Exams

Getting into a good graduate program is a tough proposition. Whether it be law school, medical school, business school, or a doctoral program in psychology, English, or History, all of these programs have strict admissions criteria that include having a high undergraduate GPA, stellar recommendation letters from your professors, and, in most cases, an above average score on a graduate school entrance exam. The names of the four major entrance exams have become iconic: the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), the LSAT (Law School Admission Test), the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test), and the GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test). Though there are a multitude of other tests, such as the Dental Admission Test (DAT) or Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT), most students apply for admission to schools that require one of the “Big 4” tests (i.e. PhD programs, law school, medical school, and graduate schools of business and finance). To read more about the Big 4 entrance exams you can visit their WIKI pages:

Importantly, though each of these tests are very different in content and structure, they all require certain cognitive, academic, and emotional skill sets to perform well. For example, all of these tests require the ability to maintain concerted visual focus under timed conditions; the ability to read quickly and efficiently extract accurate meaning from written passages; and the ability to manage one’s anxiety in the face of high stress conditions. These examinations are often referred to as “high stakes” tests because, as this term implies, a student’s academic and professional future hinges on the outcome of one of these standardized exams.

Testing Accommodations for Disabilities or Disorders

Unfortunately, for some very bright students who have solid academic track records, they possess attention, learning, and emotional challenges that affect their test taking abilities, especially during stressful tests that have little room for inefficiency. Though the “Big 4” entrance exams may accurately categorize students without disabilities, they are largely ineffective at evaluating students with learning differences. This is unless of course an aspiring grad student receives appropriate academic accommodations. Fortunately, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which can be reviewed at https://www.ada.gov/, clearly defines the right of high performing students with disabilities to receive test accommodations, stating, “A person with a history of academic success may still be a person with a disability who is entitled to testing accommodations under the ADA. A history of academic success does not mean that a person does not have a disability that requires testing accommodations. For example, someone with a learning disability may achieve a high level of academic success, but may nevertheless be substantially limited in one or more of the major life activities of reading, writing, speaking, or learning, because of the additional time or effort he or she must spend to read, write, speak, or learn compared to most people in the general population.”

What Conditions Typically Require Accommodations?

For those who suffer with learning and mood issues, the oft daunting and seemingly cold barriers to grad school must provide accommodations and modifications for “disabled” examinees. Of course, the term “disabled” can mean a variety of things, from physical disabilities such as blindness, to learning disorders such as Dyslexia and Dyscalculia, to attention disorders, to emotional conditions like depression and anxiety. If you receive a clinical diagnosis, such as ADHD or Major Depressive Disorder, you may qualify for accommodations on entrance exams such as the GRE, LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, PCAT, or DAT. Further, you may qualify for accommodations on state licensing and board exams like state medical boards, state bar exams, the CPA exam, and licensure in countless other professions ranging from engineering to psychology (or even licensing exams for trade schools).

These accommodations may include but not be limited to:

  • Extended time on exams, perhaps time and a half or double time
  • increased number and duration of breaks
  • testing in a distraction free environment
  • the use of test booklets with increased font size and spacing
  • the use of highlighters or additional scratch paper during the test
  • the use of spelling and grammar checkers for written essays
  • the ability to take one’s medication during an exam

A Long History of Successful Accommodations Requests

At CheckIt, our founding clinicians have assessed college students for over 20 years and have interfaced with innumerable college disability offices, test companies (e.g. ETS, GMAC, LSAC, and AAMC), and state licensing boards. In addition to our powerful assessment system that accurately and efficiently maps a student’s psychoeducational functioning, we produce appropriately formatted reports that are designed for approval. We also employ strict criteria for determining if an accommodations request should even be made. If our strict screening process determines that you meet the ADA standards for accommodations or modifications, then our psychoeducational assessment batteries will almost always result in an affirmative request. Alternately, if we determine you do not meet criteria for academic accommodations, we will use your test data to devise a learning strategy that will deliver improved performance, greater confidence, and improved scores.

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Every Service We Provide Starts With a Psychoeducational Assessment Battery

Your testing process will be supervised by a psychologist and the assessment will begin with a clinical interview to get necessary background info. After, you will be tested by a psychometrician who will administer intellectual, academic, attention, emotion, and personality measures.

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ADHD in College Students IS OFTEN OVERLOOKED

Though ADHD symptoms are easily recognizable in many people, they are not as apparent in high achieving college students who put in grueling hours to achieve their grades, leaving them beleaguered and taxed. These students often lack sleep and are very susceptible to developing anxiety and depressive disorders that compound their ADHD symptoms. For these students, academic accommodations are essential.

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Austin, TX 78701
512-568-7057

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