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Alternate exam formats and additional exam times are the most common accommodations.

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Test Taking

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Test taking poses challenges for most students. However for individuals with disabilities, test taking can present insurmountable obstacles. The students needs will vary greatly, depending on the disability and type of test. Students are the best source of information about strategies that work for them. The campus disabled student services office determines reasonable accommodations based on documentation that each student provides.

General strategies for accommodating students with disabilities in testing activities include:

  • Alternative, quiet testing locations and distraction free rooms.

  • Alternate formats (e.g., oral presentations, projects, essay instead of multiple choice; written paper instead of oral presentation).

  • Well-organized tests with concise instructions.

  • Alternative test formats (e.g.: computer, presentations, take-home open-book or demonstration of skills).

  • Extended test-taking time.

  • Providing reading or scribe services

Below are general considerations and accommodations by disability type.

Learning Disabilities
Students with some types of learning disabilities have difficulty completing tests within time limits. Some test formats may pose extra challenges. For example, essay questions may be more difficult to organize and respond to in a limited amount of time than multiple choice or short answer questions. Students with learning disabilities may also be easily distracted in large group test situations. Students with specific disabilities may have difficulty reading text (e.g., Dyslexia) or completing math problems (e.g., Dyscalcula). Students with writing disabilities (e.g., Dysgraphia) may have difficulty completing essay tests.

Typical test-taking accommodations for students with learning disabilities include:

  • Extended time on tests.

  • Alternative testing locations in a quiet room with fewer distractions.

  • Tests in alternative formats; oral exams, projects, presentations.

  • Use of a computer to complete tests.

For more information about working with students with learning disabilities, consult the Learning Disabilities area of The Faculty Room.

Blindness
Students who are blind cannot read printed tests. Typical test-taking accommodations for students who are blind include:

  • Readers and/or scribes.

  • Audiotaped tests.

  • Extended test-taking time.

  • Tests in computer format to allow the conversion to speech output.

  • Tests in Braille.
For more information about working with students with blindness, consult the Blindness area of The Faculty Room.

Low Vision
A student with low vision may have difficulty reading standard print on tests. Her ability to read material may also be impacted by fatigue, lighting, and glare. Typical test-taking accommodations for students with low vision include:

  • Readers or scribes.

  • Audiotaped tests.

  • Extended test-taking time.

  • Alternative test locations if lighting is problematic.

  • Enlarged print text (perhaps by using a standard photocopy machine).

  • CCTV (closed circuit television) to enlarge the print and graphics.

For more information about working with students with low vision, consult the Low Vision area of The Faculty Room.

Hearing Impairments
Students who are hard of hearing or deaf should not have difficulty with printed tests. However, they may have difficulty when questions arise or with verbal instructions given prior to the test. Typical test-taking accommodations for students with hearing impairments include:

  • Clear and detailed written instructions.
  • Sound amplification systems.

  • Preferential seating in the front row or near the instructor for optimal listening and lip reading.

For more information about working with students with hearing impairments, consult the Hearing Impairments area of The Faculty Room.

Mobility Impairments
Physical access to the test site must be assured for a student with a mobility impairment. A student who has difficulty using her hands will also have difficulty taking written tests. Typical test-taking accommodations for students with mobility impairments include:

  • Preferential and accessible seating.

  • Scribes.

  • Electronic version of the test on a computer with adaptive technology if needed.

  • Extended test-taking time.

For more information about working with students with mobility impairments, consult the Mobility Impairments area of The Faculty Room.

Health Impairments
Some students with health conditions may have difficulty attending in-class exams. They may also fatigue easily. Medication side effects may impact endurance, memory, and attention. Typical test-taking accommodations for students with health impairments include:

  • Scribes.

  • Exams delivered via the Internet.

  • Extended test-taking time.

  • Alternative time and location for test-taking.

For more information about working with students with health impairments, consult the Health Impairments area of The Faculty Room.

Psychiatric Impairments
Students with some psychiatric conditions may have difficulty with in-class exams. Medication side effects may impact endurance, memory, and attention. Typical test-taking accommodations for students with psychiatric impairments include:

  • Exams delivered via the Internet.

  • Extended test-taking time.

  • Alternative time and location for test-taking.

  • Quiet non-distracting room for test-taking.

For more information about working with students with psychiatric impairments, consult the Psychiatric Impairments area of The Faculty Room.

Check Your Understanding
Consider the following situation: A student with blindness needs to take an organic chemistry exam. What accommodations would be needed to help the student complete the exam? Choose a response.

  1. Provide a scribe.

  2. Provide extended examination time.

  3. Provide a copy of the test in Braille.

  4. Give the student an oral version of the test.