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Maximizing testing accommodations

A few simple adjustments to the way you use your accommodations can have a positive impact on your academic performance.  We’ve got tips for specific accommodations below.

Making the most of your experience at the DRS Testing Center

This section offers tips for maximizing your experience at the DRS Testing Center. It does not have all the information you need to know about how to use the Testing Center. For information on the policies and requirements of the DRS Testing Center, please visit the Alternative Testing Guidelines.

Eliminate stress

Test taking is stressful enough as is it. Try to eliminate any unnecessary last minute scrambling because it will only increase your anxiety. The following points may seem obvious but sometimes it’s easy to know what you should do but much harder to actually do it. Every quarter we see DRS students run into trouble for the reasons below.

  • Schedule your exams on time.

Exams must be scheduled through myDRS ahead of time.  Make sure you know how far ahead of time you need to get them scheduled.

We strongly recommend that you schedule all of your exams at the beginning of the quarter. If you cannot do this, then write down reminders in big, bright colors in your planning system with plenty of buffer time in case something goes awry (and maybe consider creating some digital alarms to remind you as well).

Exams that are requested late will be accommodated only if there is space and staff availability. Your professors are not required to allow you to take an exam on a different day if you do not get your request in on time.

  • Locate the Testing Center before your exam.

If you’ve never taken an exam at the Testing Center, we strongly recommend that you physically locate it prior to your first exam. Not only will this remove one unknown from your testing experience, but it will also prevent you from getting lost right before you need to start your test.

  • Know all the policies and requirements.

Make sure to read through the Alternative Testing Guidelines way ahead of your first exam. Among other things, these guidelines explain how to reschedule exams, how tardiness will be handled, and required deadlines. It’s helpful to know what’s in them so you’re not scrambling to find that information last minute.

  • Arrange for approved auxiliary aids (memory aids, interpreting, etc.) ahead of time.

You are required to communicate with your professors/DRS about auxiliary aids in advance. Make sure you know the timeline requirements. We recommend building in as much buffer time as possible to ensure that the process runs smoothly. When you get your syllabi in the beginning of the quarter, make sure to write down auxiliary planning deadlines in your planning system so you remember them.

Strategies for increasing performance

We’ve got a whole page dedicated to managing test anxiety and another page with test taking strategies. But we wanted to highlight a few of the options specifically available at the DRS testing center.

  • Ask for calming materials

We have coloring books, markers, meditation books, and puzzles available for you to use. You can ask for these supplies during any of your breaks.

  • Study in the testing center before your test

Studying in the same location where you will take an exam can increase your recall during the exam. It can also familiarize you with the environment and decrease your anxiety during the test. You are welcome to come and study at the DRS Testing Center. You can schedule this in the same way you would schedule an exam. Contact the DRS Testing Center at or 206-221-9117. Please let us know when and how long you would like to schedule space. We prioritize exams first but it’s often possible for us to fit you in.

  • Eat snacks

If you’d like to get a snack during a break, just let our front desk know and you can retrieve it from your locker. Of course, if you have an accommodation that allows you to have food during the exam, we will implement that as well.

  • Do some movement

If you’d like to move a little during a break, you can also let our front desk know that you are stepping outside the Testing Center briefly to move your body. The hallway outside our office tends to be quiet and is a good place to go. Keep in mind that you’ll need to stay close to the Testing Center. Visiting the library or other information hubs is prohibited.

Extended time

To maximize the benefits of this accommodation, you need to make good use of the extra time. Otherwise, extended time just gives you more time to be miserable.

  • Check the test taking strategies page to learn strategies you can implement with your extra time.
  • Complete a test autopsy after every exam to identify problem patterns.
  • Jot down a reminder to use test taking strategies at the beginning of your next exam so you can reference the list during the exam.

Breaks not counted

Breaks are deceptively difficult to do well. Often times, students spend their breaks sitting and going over problems in their mind or worrying about their performance on the exam. These are not true breaks. The purpose of a break is to let your brain rest and your body re-energize. Experiment with different break activities to figure out what works best for you.

  • To let your brain rest, focus on something that you find calming and not cognitively demanding. Ask our front desk for coloring supplies if drawing would help. Or do a short meditation or breathing practice. Have a few activities in mind before you start your exam. It’s much easier to execute a pre-planned strategy than it is to come up with something in the moment. Reach out to our Testing Center ahead of time if you have any specific questions or requests about space/materials available during breaks.
  • To energize your body, do some movement or have a snack. You can let our front desk know if you’d like to step into the hallway to move around. Just remember that visiting the library or other information hub is prohibited. You can also ask our front desk for access to your locker to get a snack.

White noise specific

Some students with this accommodation find it helpful to have an audio file that helps them focus during the exam and a different audio file for managing stress or taking breaks. The audio file for managing stress or taking breaks should be something that helps you shift focus away from the exam and decreases your anxiety. Students have used audio clips from their favorite television shows, songs, and meditations.

Remember, you need to submit your files two weeks in advance of your exam so they can be reviewed by our testing team. You are in charge of finding a file that is compatible with our audio players. Please contact the Testing Center at or 206-221-9117 if you have questions.

Advanced registration

If you have extended time on exams or breaks not counted, you will need to ensure that you have enough time between classes so you can make use of your accommodations. For example, if you get 1.5 time on exams and you have classes scheduled at 10am and 11am, you will not be able to use your time and a half because 1.5 hours from 10am is 11:30am, which is in the middle of your next class.

You may also want to consider spacing out classes across your week to reduce your cognitive load on any single day. This is especially true if you have extended time on tests. If you have multiple tests on one day, you may end up with more hours of testing time than is optimal for your ability to focus and manage stress.