Why does it matter so much that candidates for a professional license receive testing accommodations when they need them?
First of all, if you’re the candidate seeking a professional license as an attorney, realtor, broker, dentist or anything else, you have the legal right to testing accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) if you need them. You’ve worked very hard to get to the point where you’re ready to take your licensing exam, so you deserve the right to make use of all the tools available that will make your next step a success.
More importantly, the appropriate accommodations can allow you to show the world exactly what you know and what you can do. Without those accommodations, your performance on the test might not come close to reflecting your real-world abilities.
Detractors of testing accommodations often say things like, “Real life doesn’t have accommodations.” Statements like that, however, ignore the fact that testing scenarios aren’t remotely like real life. Sure, life has deadlines and time limits galore — but you’re not often going to be in a situation on the job where you’re required to complete a task inside a two-hour window while under observation in a classroom.
Asking for testing accommodations isn’t asking for any sort of special break. It’s merely asking for a level playing field so that you can show what you know the same way that any other candidate with your level of skill would.
Examples of common accommodations include nothing more than extended test times, the use of a computer if you’re required to provide an essay (so that you can type, not write, your answer) and a quiet room that’s free of excess distractions. These are all things that you could manage in almost any “real life” situation. More than likely, you already have managed things like adjusting your schedule to give yourself additional time to complete an assignment and using electronic tools to make classwork easier at some point on your journey toward your professional degree.
If you’ve been concerned that asking for accommodations is asking too much — don’t be. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask for accommodations during exams for professional licenses and you should never let anyone discourage you.