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Testing Accommodations

Discussion in 'MCAT: Medical College Admissions Test' started by PhysicsFailure, Sep 5, 2014.

  1. PhysicsFailure

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    Please only post relevant advice!

    I have searched SDN and have noticed a ton of negative stigma for people inquiring about accommodations for the MCAT.

    I struggle with erratic stomach problems that have been chronic for about 5 years now.

    I considering asking for an accommodation allowing me to have access to the restroom without losing time (and possibly points) during the exam.

    First, is it possible to request an ability to "pause" the timer for the test if this were to occur?

    Second, has anyone been in a similar situation that can offer helpful advice?

    Third, should I ask my school of choice how they might view this accommodation before applying through MCAT Accommodations?

    Thanks for your help!
     
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  3. Dreamstoo

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    I would try to contact AAMC first (unless SDN provides you with an in depth response soon).
     
  4. j306c954

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    I am applying for accommodations as well (a separate room to take the test in because I have really bad ADHD). My most recent time taking the MCAT I did really bad and I honestly feel like a big reason was due to the fact that I was seated next to the door and there were constantly people walking in and out and it really distracted me and threw me off.

    Anyways, they basically ask for an arm and a leg for any type of accommodation. And you have to wait 60 days to find out if they accepted your request. I'm still waiting and I am retaking Sept 18th (submitted my request July 9). So the application process is quite ridiculous and time consuming.

    And from what I've read, if you do get extra time for any reason, it just shows up as that. It doesn't show up as why. And unfortunately, even if it is truly needed, I've read that it still does not look good. Really sucks and is unfair.
     
    PhysicsFailure likes this.
  5. IslandStyle808

    IslandStyle808 Akuma residency or bust!
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    PM me if you have questions
     
  6. j306c954

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    Update: got my response today...denied, due to the reason that the rooms are "already reduced distraction and provide noise cancelling headphones and bla bla bla"

    ....well then how come when I took the MCAT the first time I was STILL distracted which significantly contributed to my poor performance? I don't think they understand. ANY little noise.

    Just sayin', all I wanted was a different room to take the exam in, so if you're trying to get something like extended time....good luck...
     
  7. Jason12

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    they put a red flag on your score at the end anyway, so be thankful that they didnt accept it.
    if your problem is getting distracted easily which Im in the same situation then take your practice tests in the library
     
  8. user12

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    I totally understand where youre coming from with ANY little noise being distracting. I took the mcat last month and during the last half hour or so, some girl taking a different test was typing on a keyboard. distracting as HELL. noise cancelling headphones didn't cancel ****. I put in a complaint to the aamc, they did nothing. they suck. and for $325, honestly a separate room shouldn't be unreasonable.
     
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  9. j306c954

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    I do. I even reserve a room all to myself. But during the actual MCAT there's constantly people walking in and out with the door closing and shutting and stuff.
     
  10. j306c954

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    Yea seriously. It's not like it's going to give me a huge advantage compared to everyone else, if anything it puts me on the same playing field.
     
  11. IslandStyle808

    IslandStyle808 Akuma residency or bust!
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    You have the choice to waive the accommodations, even when granted. No favor is being done for him.

    https://www.aamc.org/students/download/85274/data/accommodation_waiver_form.pdf
     
    Jason12 likes this.
  12. Jason12

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    did you even provide them with proper medical documentations? if your situation is as severe as you say then I dont see a reason why they would reject it
     
    IslandStyle808 likes this.
  13. IslandStyle808

    IslandStyle808 Akuma residency or bust!
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    ^ Concur strongly with above. I think if you explain your situation with the MCAT you just recently took, you could be given a second look.
     
  14. j306c954

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    Ohhhh yes I did. I gave them everything they asked for. I even gave them letters that were sent home from my teachers in elementary school, confirmation of my diagnosis from when I was 6, a complete formal report from a battery of tests administered to me by a psychologist just this year that provide substantial evidence that I am very easily distracted, etc etc etc....I basically gave them my life history
     
  15. j306c954

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    Well it said on the letter I received that if I wanted it to be re-evaluated, I would need to re-submit and then wait the 60 day review period again. I am going to try calling tomorrow, but based on prior experiences speaking with AAMC people, who knows what will come from it...
     
  16. HinduHammer

    HinduHammer Righteous in Wrath
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    I have a friend/aquainance who got accomodated testing for some sort of learning disorder. It did not help her at all and now she has big red mark for non-standard administration..so she can't attribute her low score to the learning disorder since she was given accommodation.

    Also if you are going to ask for an accommodation, you should get a letter from your relevant PCP or GI doc now.

    Also, I really doubt they are going to give you the accommodation. After all, when you are a physician you will have to go 70 minutes without going to the bathroom, right? Well if you can't do that for the MCAT, then the test-makers/medical schools/everyone will wonder what kind of accomodations you will need to be a practicing physician.

    If you do get an accomodation, I doubt they would let you pause it to go to the bathroom. You could literally spend 10 minutes thinking through a complicated passage and mentally mapping answers or going over answer choices in your head... It's an unfair advantage even if you do have a medical issue that I doubt AAMC will grant. The most they could give might be extended bathroom breaks between sections.

    Bottom line: sorry, but I would bet a steak dinner you will not get an accommodation..I would focus on finding a way to treat your chronic IBS or whatever so that it won't be an issue for you during your MCAT.

    You may be able to request a seat that is far away from the door. I know that I was EXTREMELY lucky to get the seat farthest away from the door and all other test-takers. This was very lucky for me,..., you could try being the last person in the testing center to get seated....usually they seat the first person at computer station #1 which is closest to the door...that's how it was at my test center at least.
     
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  17. Akewataru

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    Currently in the process now applying for accommodations on the MCAT. Have you received accommodations on standardized tests in the past? According to the MCAT website, they very highly value proof of previous accommodations on standardized tests. Makes me glad I applied and got accommodations on the ACT and TEAS V. It was far easier to apply for and now I have documented history of accommodations which was extended time and a private room. To the naysayers, it DOES and did make a difference to someone with AD/HD. Did you have a IEP plan in elementary, middle, and high school? They value that too!
     
  18. Great White Buffalo

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    My sister was approved for an accommodation for the MCAT. She is taking it Nov 7. She had an accommodation in college for extra time for a learning disability, but never had one for standardized tests before, but her performance on these test were way below her capability (which all the records back to middle school show). We thought the MCAT folks would deny her because she didn't have an official accommodation until college, but we could show a history of substandard performance on standardized test in comparison to abilities.

    The MCAT accommodations review is thorough, and basically you need to have the correct physician/psychologist do the correct testing. It is not an easy process, and the experts need to complete the checklists, be a valid professional in the field, and have lots of documentation from the dawn of time. I have had other folks contact me about their accommodations, and while the MCAT requires a long history and extensive and expensive testing, it is not impossible to obtain. Good luck to you.
     
  19. Akewataru

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    Thank you for providing your sister's experience and success. You are not kidding about the testing being extensive and expensive. The evaluation I am scheduled for will be 3 to 4 hours and will cost $900. However, some clinics can ask as high as $2500. I plan to take the test in January, so in order get my documentation in before November, I am currently acquiring IEP records, transcripts, test scores, proof of past accommodations on those tests. I never applied for accommodations in college because the teacher always gave us the entire class time to do the tests. Most of my classes were three hours long and the test was 50 questions or less. Guess who almost always finished last? My grades/GPA never matched my standardized test scores either.
     
  20. Great White Buffalo

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    Your testing sounds about right. My sister did a whole day of testing at an Academic Neuropsychology Clinic (diagnosis is delayed processing speed). I think the cost if paid out of pocket was about $3K, but happily our insurance picked up this cost - twice!! The testing needs to be done every 3 years for accommodation rules on current testing. And you need to have every report card and test result from the dawn of time. We were lucky that our Mom seemed to keep everything, just needed to scan it into PDF. Now that we have a baseline, we'll just keep using the same information, just keep adding to it. A pretty brutal process, but I guess it is only fair that the bar is high, to filter out folks without a true diagnosis from gaming the system. Best wishes to you on a successful application cycle.
     
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  21. Great White Buffalo

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    Just a post update, sister's MCAT experience with (34) and without accommodations (26), with a 3.95 GPA (had accommodations for testing only in undergrad).

    without accommodation in July 2013
    PS 8, VR 8, BS 10 for a total 26
    Pretty much completed only 60% of the test, and guessed the last 3 passages.

    MCAT with accommodation for delayed processing learning disability in Nov 2014
    PS 12, VR 9 BS 13 for a total of 34
    Verbal was still a struggle, but only had to guess on one passage. Finished PS and BS.

    Accommodations are approved if you have a strong history of disability, and evidence that "extra" time evens the playing field. If you have a legitimate learning disability, there is an avenue available to show what you can achieve.
    I have been PM'd by many others who were successful in receiving accommodations, and the major theme is a history of disability, adequate diagnosis by a professional with substantial testing (in our case a whole day of testing by a learning disability psychologist, updated after 3 years).
     
  22. Doug Underhill

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    In general, the AAMC does not like MCAT accomodations. They flag the score and love to deny it even if you have a letter from your primary care physician.

    It's possible, but it's an uphill battle.
     
  23. Gauss44

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    Yes, you can ask for that accommodation. I believe AAMC has a name for it like, "stop-the-clock breaks." It's on their website and should come up if you google that and AAMC.

    There was a thread in the Non-Traditional Forum about how accommodations are viewed by most ADCOMs. All ADCOMs can see is an asterisk, which is exactly the same asterisk that appears on tests under any non-standard conditions. Non-standard conditions can be a fire alarm, earthquake, and many other things. The consensus is that an asterisk is an asterisk. I think it was this thread, http://forums.studentdoctor.net/threads/which-2014-mcat-score-would-serve-my-student-better.1090438/

    In terms of how AAMC views accommodations, my sense is that they can be tough and that it can be difficult to be accommodated. Go to their website and print out everything you can find about getting your accommodations. Read it, then call AAMC or email them to confirm that you read the instructions correctly (if the instructions are extremely complicated - which is what someone told me a couple years ago). Get your documentation together and submit your request to AAMC. If you keep getting denied and think that you should have been approved, you have another option. Many people check in with an attorney who specializes in both education and disability. They can tell you where your application is weak and what to do about it. You can find an attorney with the right practice areas by going to the Martindale database online. If you are worried about what they charge, just ask up front. BTW, this is a very common thing to do.

    Good luck!
     
  24. Great White Buffalo

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    Excellent post. We were concerned that my sister's disability wasn't diagnosed until the end of High School, but could show a pattern of high performance in school but sub-optimal performance on standardized tests. If your documentation goes back to middle/grade school that is even better.

    The biggest key is getting the appropriate diagnosis from a specialized professional. While our Dad is a Child Psychiatrist, he had a learning specialist neuropsychology clinic do the all day testing (which is quite pricey, but a lot of medical insurance will cover this. Alternatively, I've heard from folks that University learning Resource Centers will sometimes have testing specialist on staff that will do it for a much lower fee). A note from a GP or Peditrician doesn't really cut it. Try to get a consult from an experienced specialist with your disability.

    It is hard to get an accommodation, as it should be, reserved for folks with a documented problem that can be accommodated in minor ways to insure inclusion. It doesn't take a lawyer, but a methodical understanding of the documentation needed to show how the disability impacts your ability to take the test under standard testing requirements. Be prepared to argue for what you need, backed up by the professional assessment. Good Luck.
     
  25. Akewataru

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    I've got an update folks!

    After giving AAMC my IEP records, proof of accommodations on the ACT (according to their own paperwork they weren't supposed to even have these records but somehow they found them!), and TEAS V, my transcripts from elementary school to my current and last trimester in undergrad, and (the big one, what they like to see), a very comprehensive day long AD/HD evaluation that cost $900, I was "partially" approved for accommodations for the MCAT2015 that I am scheduled to take over two days on April 17 & 18, 2015.

    Here is the breakdown of what I was approved for:

    Standard time + 50%;
    Testing over two days (as necessary for standard time + 50%);
    Separate testing (may be a small group setting);
    Stop-the-clock breaks: this means that you may have two additional 5- minute breaks during each section of
    the MCAT exam. This is in addition to the regularly-scheduled breaks after each test section. These extra breaks
    may be used as needed during each section of the exam.

    Sounds like everything that a person with AD/HD could ever want, right? However, the reason why I was "partially" approved was because I originally requested Standard time + 100%. The reason why they didn't give it to me is as follows:

    'While you requested double time or 100% extended time for the MCAT exam, the available documentation did not provide
    sufficient information to support the need for that level of accommodation. Your 2014 evaluation did not include an
    assessment of timed and untimed academic achievement, which would assist in documenting the impact of your
    impairment on your functioning and the need for a higher level of accommodation. Your evaluation also does not include
    a recommendation for a specific amount of extended time or a specific rationale for why it would be needed for you to be
    able to take the exam in an accessible manner.'

    Interesting...If they felt this way, then why give me the 50%? AAMC seems to really not like giving extended time. Aw well, I'm just glad I was approved. If I was denied or they requested additional documentation, I had additional documentation to send them. I would have sent this paperwork it originally, but this clinic seems to really drag their feet when giving out patient records, so it didn't arrive in the time they themselves quoted.
     
  26. Great White Buffalo

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    Congrats on successfully navigating the MCAT "rules" for accommodations. My sister also got accommodation for the old MCAT at 50% extended time, and it significantly improved her performance, as noted in previous posts. Good luck on acing this thing (though 2 days of torture seems unreal). The key is really a good documentation of history of needing accommodations to show true abilities. Let us know how it goes. Best wishes to you.
     
  27. HARBOOK

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    Haha, I was denied even 50% based on the same rationale which seems pretty out there. They just gave me stop the clock breaks, maybe I should've asked for more than that :)

    "You requested the accommodation of 50% extended time for the MCAT exam. We have considered the recommendations of the qualified professional who has personally observed you in a clinical setting as well as the other documentation you submitted. However, the available documentation does not provide sufficient evidence of functional impairment consistent with the need for additional testing time for you to be able to take the exam in an accessible manner. While your 2014 evaluation included a recommendation for extended time, it did not include a specific rationale explaining why, based on the functional limitations you experience, that particular amount of extended time is necessary for you to take the MCAT exam in an accessible manner. Your evaluation also did not include an assessment of your academic functioning (timed and untimed) to assess the impact of your ADHD on your ability to complete timed academic tasks."

    Almost the same wording too lawl. Do you guys have any ideas on new evidence, paperwork I could send them to reconsider. I am speaking with my Neuropsychologist and a disability rights advocate, but I'm also wary of getting re-tested because it's so costly. BTW I also, pm'ed you @Akewataru ;)
     
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  28. Akewataru

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    I sent you a message back.


    Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
     

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