Testing Accommodations

Accommodations for testing situations are the most common accommodations for students with disabilities in higher education. Testing accommodations allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills without having their disability interfere with the testing. Testing accommodations ensure that the tests are accessible to students who have disabilities, thus testing the knowledge and skills of the student rather than testing the disability. The nature of the disability and how the disability impacts the studentís ability to complete the exam are considered before making the determination that test accommodations are necessary. Testing accommodations should not compromise academic integrity. Testing accommodations include:

  • Extended testing time
  • Accommodations related to testing environments (e.g., reduced distraction environment)
  • And alternative testing formats

As with all accommodations, students must provide documentation to the Disability Services Office that test accommodations are warranted.

Extended Testing Time

One of the most common testing accommodations is extended time on tests. The amount of time allotted for taking an exam is negotiated by the disability services staff, the instructor, and the student. Typically, double the amount of time is allotted. Factors such as the nature of the disability, the types of accommodations the student requires (e.g., a reader), and the format of the test are taken into consideration when determining how much extended time is allotted. If an exam is lengthy enough that a student will need more than one day to complete it, then the exam should be divided into sections that can be given on separate days. To prevent dishonesty, completed sections of the exam can not be edited once the student turns it in.

Testing Environment

Sometimes students will require a testing environment accommodation such as a using a reduced distraction room, being able to eat, listening to music, or being able to get up and move. For some of these accommodations, the student will have a medical need for the accommodation. A reduced distraction room can be used for students who are highly distractible or who use other accommodations that may be distracting to other students, such as a reader or a computer with specialized software. A quiet office or an empty classroom may be used. A hallway is not considered a reduced distraction area. The instructor or the proctor should be available for answering questions, but should not interrupt the student during the exam.

Alternative Testing Format

Some students have disabilities that require tests to be given or taken in an alternative format. Examples of alternative testing formats include large print, electronic text, alternative test designs (e.g., oral response rather than written), and alternative methods for responding (e.g., scribes, word processors). Alternative or supplemental assignments such as slide presentations or handmade models may also be used to evaluate student mastery.