Key Takeaways

  • Let’s discover: What is a test accommodation?
  • Test accommodations are special changes to exams that help students with disabilities or learning challenges. They adjust how tests are given without changing what’s measured.
  • Types of accommodations include extra time, multi-day testing, reading aloud, a quiet room, breaks during exams, and using calculators or special software. These supports help students show their true knowledge on tests.
  • To get test accommodations, a student needs to prove they’re eligible. This might require a doctor’s note or school records. The process involves filling out forms and possibly having an IEP or 504 Plan.
  • Schools and colleges offer support for students who need test accommodations. Students should provide documentation of their disability to get the right help.
  • Test accommodations aim to make testing fair for everyone by removing barriers that could hinder some students’ performance, ensuring all have the chance to succeed equally.

Have you ever felt worried about how a physical challenge might affect your score on an important test? You’re not alone. Many students face this concern every day. Test accommodations are here to help with that issue.

They make tests fair for everyone, including those with disabilities. One key fact is: These changes can include more time or a different way to take the test.

This blog post will guide you through what test accommodations are, how they can help, and how you can get them if you need them. We’ll cover everything from who qualifies for these supports to how they can change your testing experience for the better.

Ready to learn more? Keep reading!

What Are Test Accommodations?

what is a test accommodation - shadow image of people with various disabilities in rainbow color

Test accommodations are changes made in how tests are given. They help students with disabilities show what they know without being held back by their disability.

Definition of test accommodations

Test accommodations are changes made to exams or the conditions under which exams are taken. These changes help students with physical or learning challenges take part in testing on a level playing field with other students.

They adjust how tests get administered without altering what the test aims to measure. For instance, a student might receive extra time to complete an exam or be allowed to take it in a quieter room.

These adjustments mean that every student has the chance to show their true knowledge and skills on standardized exams like high-stakes tests and high school equivalency exams. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sets rules for these adjustments, making sure they’re fair and do not mark test scores differently because someone needed an accommodation.

Purpose of test accommodations

Test accommodations help students with disabilities or those who are learning English as a new language. They make sure these students can show what they know without the disability getting in the way.

For example, someone who has trouble reading because of dyslexia might get extra time to finish an exam. This is fair because it lets all students have the same chance to do well.

These accommodations should be like the support students use every day in class. If a student uses text-to-speech software for lessons, they should also be able to use it during tests.

This makes the testing situation familiar and less stressful. Students perform better when they can use tools and methods they already know how to handle.

Types of Test Accommodations

There are two main kinds of help students can get during tests: instructional and testing accommodations. For example, some students might get extra time or use special tools like textbooks with bigger words.

Instructional accommodations

Instructional accommodations help students learn better in school. They match what is taught in class with what appears on tests, both in school and on big exams like state assessments. Here’s a look at how these accommodations make a difference:

  1. Extra time on tests – Students who need more time to understand questions or solve problems get it. This helps those with slow processing speed or anxiety to perform better.
  2. Reading aloud – Teachers or special software read test questions out loud for students. It’s great for kids who have trouble reading by themselves.
  3. Breaks during exams – Students can take short breaks if they get overwhelmed or tired. This keeps their minds fresh and focused.
  4. Using calculators – Even when others can’t, some students use calculators for math problems. It helps those who understand concepts but struggle with calculations.
  5. Large print materials – Books and tests come in bigger fonts for kids with vision issues. It makes reading easier and less straining.
  6. Fewer questions on a page – Tests are designed with fewer problems per page to reduce stress and distraction.
  7. Preferential seating – Sitting closer to the teacher helps students pay attention and ask for help when needed.
  8. Note-taking assistance – Some students get notes from teachers or use tools that help them take their own notes during lessons.
  9. Adjusted assignment timelines – Kids with certain needs get more time to finish homework or projects, reducing pressure and improving quality of work.

These strategies ensure all students have a fair chance at succeeding in school, no matter their challenges.

Testing accommodations

Testing accommodations make standardized tests fair for everyone. They let students with disabilities show their true abilities. Here are some ways accommodations can help:

  1. Reading the test aloud – This helps students who have trouble with reading comprehension.
  2. Extended time – Students who need more time can finish without rushing.
  3. Separate room – Taking a test in a quiet, distraction-free place benefits those easily distracted.
  4. Large print and braille tests – These are for students with vision impairments.
  5. Use of a computer for typing answers – This aids students who have difficulty writing by hand.
  6. Breaks during testing – Students with specific medical needs or anxiety can relax and refocus.
  7. Sign language interpreters for deaf students ensure they understand instructions perfectly.
  8. Audio versions of the test support learners who process information better through listening.

Testing accommodations follow ADA requirements to give all students equal opportunities on exams like algebra or science class quizzes. They do not change what the test measures but how it is taken. This way, exams truly reflect each student’s knowledge and skills, regardless of their physical or learning disabilities.

Examples of accommodations

what is a test accommodation - colorful drawing of a student at a desk with a clock on the wall

Accommodations help students show what they know without being held back by their disability. They change how a student takes a test or takes part in classroom activities.

  1. Test read aloud: Students can listen to questions instead of reading them. This helps those who have trouble seeing or focusing on written words.
  2. Extra time: Giving students more time reduces pressure and allows them to work through questions at their own pace.
  3. Use of a scribe or dictation software: Some students find it hard to write by hand or use a keyboard. A scribe writes down their answers, or they can speak into dictation software.
  4. Testing in small groups: A quiet room with fewer distractions helps students concentrate better.
  5. Word processor for essays: Typing answers can be easier and faster for some students than writing by hand.
  6. Tape recorder for responses: Students can answer questions out loud when writing is too challenging.
  7. Answers in the test booklet: Writing directly in the booklet instead of a separate sheet keeps organization easy.
  8. Monitoring of responses: Teachers or aides make sure students understand questions and don’t miss any parts.

Each accommodation targets specific needs, ensuring all students have a fair chance to succeed on tests and in class activities.

How to Receive Test Accommodations

To get test accommodations, you first need to show you’re eligible. You might need a doctor’s note or school records. Then, work with your school to fill out the right forms and ask for what you need.

Even if you don’t have an IEP or 504 Plan, you might still qualify for help.

Eligibility determination

Schools use a team including special education experts to decide which students get test accommodations. This team looks at the student’s needs and follows rules under the ADA and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

They check if a student has a disability that makes testing hard for them. The team might ask for proof, like doctors’ reports or school records.

If you are initially denied necessary accommodations, it may be helpful to hire an expert.

Process for receiving accommodations

Getting test accommodations requires a few steps. The process helps students with disabilities get the help they need during exams.

  1. Identify your needs. Think about what challenges you face in testing situations. This could be reading quickly, writing by hand, or sitting for long periods.
  2. Gather proof of your disability. You’ll need documents that show you have a disability. This includes medical records or reports from doctors or psychologists.
  3. Contact the right people at your school or testing center. Schools and centers have staff who handle requests for accommodations. Find out who this person is and talk to them.
  4. Fill out necessary forms. They will give you forms to request accommodations. Make sure to fill these out completely.
  5. Attach your documentation of disability with your forms as required.
  6. Submit your application within deadlines, ideally early. It takes time to review accommodation requests.
  7. Wait for approval or feedback on your request which can take up to seven weeks, especially for big tests like the PSAT.
  8. If approved, learn how to use your accommodations effectively before test day comes around.
  9. Be prepared to advocate for yourself if there are any mix-ups with receiving your test accommodations on the actual day of testing.

This approach helps ensure that students who need extra support get it, making certain everyone has a fair chance at doing their best on exams. It is often necessary to have an expert advocate for you as testing organizations can reject initial applications.

Can students without IEP or 504 Plans receive accommodations?

Students who do not have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan might find it hard to get test accommodations. These plans are key for students with disabilities to receive the support they need during tests.

They outline specific aids that can help a student perform better, like extra time or different test formats.

For those without such plans, options are limited. Schools primarily use IEPs and 504 plans to decide on giving out accommodations based on set laws like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Without being covered by these documents, getting help on tests is not easy. Yet, talking to teachers or school counselors can be a first step in finding what help might be available outside these formal plans. Firms like The Hilltop Monitor can also assist in obtaining appropriate accommodations.

Resources for Test Accommodations

Finding help for test accommodations is easy with the right tools. Schools, colleges, and special education programs offer support. They give students with disabilities what they need to do well on tests.

You can also find information online about getting these supports in school or college. This helps everyone get a fair chance at showing their best work on tests. Start looking into these resources today to make the most of your testing experience!

Support for students with disabilities

Schools offer special help for students who learn differently because of disabilities. This support makes sure these students can take tests and show what they know just like everyone else.

The Center for Accessible Education works with the student and teachers to find out what help is needed. This could include things like more time on tests or taking exams in a quiet room.

There are also tools like software that reads text aloud or keyboards designed for one-handed typing. For physical needs, there might be ramps built in schools or desks that move up and down.

All these accommodations aim to give every student the chance to do well in school and reach their goals, matching their classmates’ achievements.

How to get accommodations in college

To get accommodations in college, students with disabilities must show they need them. They should provide recent paperwork like psycho-educational assessments. This proves their disability to the school.

The ADA supports these students by making sure colleges offer needed test adjustments.

Start by talking to the school’s office for student support services. They help students with disabilities, including ADHD and physical impairments like muscular dystrophy. Give them your documents showing your disability.

They will guide you through getting the right test arrangements, such as more time or a quiet room to take tests.

Further information and resources.

Many websites have FAQs to help teachers understand how to give test accommodations to students who need them. These FAQs make it easier for educators and science teachers to find ways to support all learners, including those with a learning disability or physical disabilities.

They offer clear explanations and step-by-step guides on the process.

The ADA gives technical advice about testing aids for people with disabilities taking big exams. By exploring these resources, families and students can discover a lot of useful information.

This includes how English language learners (ELLs) or those not proficient in English can get equal chances during tests through things like alternate assessments or auxiliary aids.


Testing accommodations play a critical role in ensuring students with disabilities have fair and equitable access to testing. When implemented appropriately, accommodations remove barriers so that tests accurately measure a student’s true knowledge and abilities. However, the research shows that the effectiveness of accommodations depends on many factors, including the specific accommodation, the student’s unique needs, and prior familiarity with using the accommodation. Educators and policymakers must consider these issues when making decisions about testing accommodations.


1. What is a test accommodation?

A test accommodation changes how tests are given to help students with disabilities show what they know without being held back by their disability.

2. Who can get test accommodations?

Students with disabilities, including those who need wheelchair access, have low vision or hearing impairments, or require assistive technology, can qualify for test accommodations under laws like Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

3. What kinds of test accommodations are there?

Accommodations can include things like extra time on tests, taking exams in a quiet room, using special equipment like hearing aids or other assistive devices, and getting instructions explained in simpler language for those with learning disabilities or limited English proficiency.

4. How do I know if I’m eligible for a test accommodation?

If you have a documented disability such as physical impairment, intellectual disability, diabetes that affects your academic performance; you might be eligible. Your school will review your needs and may develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a Section 504 Plan to outline your accommodations.

5. Why are test accommodations important?

They ensure all students have an equal opportunity to succeed in high-stakes testing environments by leveling the playing field so that challenges related to disabilities don’t interfere with demonstrating true academic achievement standards.