Classroom and testing accommodations

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if a student tells me s/he has a disability and needs extra time for tests?

Make certain that the student has given you a letter of accommodation that specifies extra test time.

Discuss with the student what arrangements would be best so that you may provide the extra time stipulated. Some students do not want to take tests at DRS, for example, because they will have no one to explain the test questions or directions if needed.

Stick rigorously to the designated extension (time and a half, double time). There is a good reason for the provision stated, and it is not always a benefit to have even more time.

In determining whether you should answer the questions of a student taking the test privately in extended time, consider whether you would answer the same questions for students taking the test in class. If so, answer them for the student with extended time.

What should I do if one of my students needs to take her/his tests at DRS?

Your student will give you an accommodation letter from DRS, stipulating that s/he requires particular accommodations regarding testing. It is best to discuss the nature of the student’s needs in relation to the existing context for testing in your course. If the student concludes that taking tests at DRS will be the best way to meet those needs, the student will schedule the test on the MyDRS website and you will receive an email notification, asking you to confirm or edit the test details and upload a copy of the test.

Please review the procedures for providing the test three (3) business days prior to the date on which the student is to take it. Contact DRS if you need to make alternative arrangements.

Why should I go through the extra effort required for a student to take a test at DRS?

Tests are the primary method many professors use to assess how well students have learned the skills and knowledge their course objectives target. Therefore, students and faculty all have an interest in tests being fair and accurate measurements of learning. Traditionally, instructors give tests in the classroom during the scheduled period, because this is both convenient and conducive to monitoring students and ensuring they do their own work as required. However, for students with particular disabilities, those standard conditions can frustrate their efforts to communicate what they have learned as clearly and effectively as they can.

By complying with DRS protocol for testing accommodations, you will ensure that your test will measure what you designed it to measure: the degree to which each student has learned the skills and knowledge you have been teaching. And students with a disability will have the same opportunity as their peers to demonstrate the extent of their achievements.


  • Pierre has attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and finds it impossible to concentrate, despite his best efforts, especially when students sitting near him shift in their seats, rustle their papers, yawn, or cough. These are stimuli that many people would be able to tune out easily, but Pierre’s brain registers them all at the same level as the words on the page in front of him. He experiences constant intrusive distractions. Consequently, he is at a disadvantage when it comes to pulling his thoughts together to answer the questions well and finish the test on time. When permitted to take the test alone in a quiet room, Pierre has access to the same “mental experience” of test-taking as his peers have in the regular group setting. (Read one person’s account of the challenges -- and the bright side -- of living with ADHD in “What’s It Like to Have ADD?” by Edward Hallowell, MD.)
  • Rachelle is a veteran who was diagnosed with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) upon her return from Iraq. Like many persons with TBI, she has trouble coming up with words to express what she wants to say. As a result, she takes more time than many students to formulate her answers. By breaking her mental tasks into small segments and deploying lots of mnemonic devices and kinesthetic strategies, Rachelle can remember information more efficiently as the weeks pass, but the 50-minute class period leaves her too little time to finish all the test questions, even though she may know the answers. She can relax more and do her best when she has an extra chunk of time to work with. (View videos of TBI survivors discussing the impacts of their injuries on the Traumatic Brain Injury: The Journey Home website. In particular, Michael Welsh describes what his injury means for the way he does his job every day.)

Why does the faculty member have to confirm and edit test details on MyDRS?

In order for a student to arrange for exam accommodations at DRS, and for DRS to appropriately administer your exam to that student, DRS must receive the accurate test details. Not only does the MyDRS form facilitate the exam accommodation process, but it also helps DRS implement your specific requirements for the administration of the exam. Finally, the form provides instructions to DRS regarding how and where to return the exam in a secure and efficient manner.

How does DRS ensure that my exams are kept safe?

DRS follows a systematic procedure that preserves the security of exams in our office and ensures that completed exams are returned in a timely way to faculty. While exams are present in DRS facilities, they are kept in a locked file. No student is permitted to take an exam with accommodations without prior detailed faculty authorization, nor may a student drop off or return a test. Staff members monitor students while they take exams in DRS testing rooms.

May I provide the required testing accommodations without involving DRS?

There are good reasons for students to prefer to take a test with their peers or under conditions as close as possible to those under which other students are taking it. You and your student may agree that you will administer an exam yourself; in that case, you must provide the testing accommodations detailed in the student’s accommodation letter if the student requests them. These may include adaptive technology, extended time, a distraction-reduced space, readers, scribes, or other reasonable and appropriate measures.

Certain accommodations can easily be offered as generalized test conditions. For example, a take-home test allows all students to have extended time and permits anyone to use assistive technologies like text-to-speech software, voice recognition, or writing supports.

Other accommodations may require modifications of the testing conditions in your classroom. For example, you may decide to allow a student who only needs to use assistive software to complete the test on a laptop, so long as the use of the software will not disrupt other students. You will then have the responsibility to monitor the student’s use of the computer. If a student requires extended time, you may agree to have the student begin the test in class, then complete it in your office or another suitable space.

If you find you are unable to provide appropriate accommodations or are unsure about what is appropriate, please contact DRS 215-204-1280 or well in advance of the exam.