Academic And Standardized Test Accommodations


Any dedicated student has lost focus during a lecture, been overwhelmed by their amount of homework, or felt confident about test performance only to receive a lower than expected grade. At times, concentration deficits, poor recall of information, and low motivation are normal. At other times, these and other symptoms can indicate a more serious problem. When certain symptoms co-occur and negatively affect activities of daily life, such as the ability to study, then they may indicate a diagnosable condition, such as ADHD, Dyslexia, or Major Depression. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) states that students should not be penalized for performance deficits that result from cognitive or emotional disabilities. Consequently, primary schools, colleges, universities, and tests such as the ACT, SAT, GREMCATLSAT, and GMAT, must “accommodate” a student’s disability so that their specific disability does not put them at a disadvantage. Said another way, these academic accommodations “level the playing field.” For instance, a common symptom of Dyslexia is a slower reading pace. To accommodate this confirmed symptom, schools will allow extra time on tests. Fortunately, Dr. Gibbs has over 20 years of experience making diagnoses, demonstrating the effects of psychological conditions on academic performance, and determining the type of accommodations that will “level the playing field.”

What (disorders) Typically Qualify for Academic Accommodations?

There are a multitude of conditions that prevent the educational and learning process from running smoothly. Some examples are:

  • ADHD
  • Specific Learning Disorder in Reading (Dyslexia)
  • Specific Learning Disorder in Math (Dyscalculia)
  • Specific Learning Disorder in Writing
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder (Dysgraphia)
  • Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders
  • Emotional Conditions such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder

It’s easy to see why the above conditions would negatively impact learning. If you have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) that causes distractibility in class, then it is hard to pay attention to lectures; if you have dyslexia then it is very difficult to read quickly under timed test conditions; if you have recurrent depression then it is a struggle to make it to all of your classes. In each of these examples, clinical disorders are present that can interfere with one’s ability to achieve scholastic success.

20 years of experience with collegiate academic accomodations

Our clinicians have assessed college students for over 20 years and have interfaced with innumerable local schools, 504 coordinators, college disability offices, test companies (e.g. College Board, ETS, LSAC, GMAC, and AAMC), and state licensing boards. In addition to our unique assessment system that accurately and efficiently outlines a student’s psychoeducational functioning, we produce appropriately formatted reports that are designed for approval. We employ strict criteria for determining if an accommodations request should even be made. If our strict screening process determines that your child meets the ADA standards for accommodations or modifications, then our psychoeducational assessment reports will typically result in an affirmative request. Alternately, if we determine that your child does not meet criteria for academic accommodations, then we will provide a comprehensive strategy for achieving peak performance.

Examples of Test and Classroom Accommodations

  • Extra time on exams; usually 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
  • Testing in a distraction free environment
  • Preferred seating in classrooms
  • Preferred registration times
  • Excused absences from class
  • Extended homework and project due dates
  • The ability to have less than 12 hours count as “full time status”
  • The use of a notetaker in class; allowing a notetaking “buddy;” or access to a professor’s class lecture preparatory notes that can be used as a notetaking guide
  • Allowing a student to record lectures
  • Allowing additional time to complete in-class assignments
  • The option of an oral versus written exam
  • The use of a calculator for exams
  • Exams with increased font size, spacing, or large block answer sheets (i.e. non-scantron)
  • The use of spelling and grammar assistive devices for written tests
  • The use of highlighters or scratch paper during exams.

Bryce Gibbs PhD and Associates Can Help You Reach Your Full Potential

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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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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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Dr. Bryce Gibbs

1717 West Ave.
Austin, TX 78701

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