Get Tested Before Your Big Tests - Humantold
Get Tested Before Your Big Tests

Get Tested Before Your Big Tests

Dr. Stephanie Spielberger September 6, 2023

Do standardized tests feel like a Herculean task to you? Psychological testing could help unleash your potential.

School can pose challenges at every level, from the early days of kindergarten to the demanding journey of graduate school. For individuals dealing with an underlying disability, like a learning or mental health disorder, these challenges can become even more formidable. If you or someone you know is facing difficulties with tasks such as test-taking, comprehending assignments, or meeting deadlines, it might be worth contemplating a psychological or psychoeducational evaluation. These evaluations offer valuable insight into how someone thinks and learns, identify areas that may require intervention, and grant access to resources, such as testing accommodations, that could significantly contribute to achieving success.

What are testing accommodations? 

Testing accommodations are often particularly helpful for individuals with disabilities, like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and various learning differences. They are designed to “level the playing field,”  serving to assist those with various disabilities in showcasing their abilities effectively in educational settings or during examinations. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines testing accommodations as “changes to the regular testing environment and auxiliary aids and services that allow individuals with disabilities to demonstrate their true aptitude or achievement level on standardized exams or other high-stakes tests.”   

When to get psychological testing

With that said, undergoing evaluation before standardized, high-stakes assessments

(which in New York State begin as early as the 3rd grade) is important. Students of any age

who struggle to perform well on these exams or experience considerable exam-related anxiety may want to seek out an evaluation to see if they qualify for additional support.

Throughout their academic journey, students will have to demonstrate what they know by

taking tests. These may be classroom and state tests, Regents examinations, standardized college entry tests (such as the SAT, ACT), postgraduate school entrance exams (including the GRE, MCAT, LSAT), or professional licensing examinations (for instance, Cosmetology, Medical Boards, Bar exam, etc.). In all these instances, a student's level of proficiency is gauged based on their performance. 

Students who struggle with these kinds of exams could gain advantages by pursuing an evaluation before the actual test. This pursuit could potentially qualify them for extra support during the test, such as special arrangements or accommodations. The ultimate goal is to ensure that students have the best opportunity to perform their best on the crucial test day. 

You may want to seek out an evaluation if…

  1. Completing assignments on time is a challenge for you.
  2. You think of yourself as a “bad test taker” – meaning you understand the material in class but struggle when it comes to exams.
  3. Despite seeking help from teachers, therapists, and other experts, you're still facing difficulties with your studies.

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” it could be a good idea to look into a psychological or psychoeducational assessment. An evaluation can help you better

understand your strengths and weaknesses as a learner, and pinpoint the areas where your learning process isn't working well. This way, you can focus on specific strategies to improve.

Benefits of undergoing an evaluation:

1. Better understanding of your (or your child’s) strengths and areas for improvement, as well as their thinking and learning style.

2. Potentially secure testing accommodations through a 504 Plan or an Individualized Education Plan (such as extended time for exams, a quiet testing environment, assistance from a scribe, verbal reading of test directions and questions, simplified test instructions, breaks, and more).

3. Open the door to potential classroom accommodations (like preferred seating, repeated and simplified instructions, prompts for staying on task, extended assignment completion time, breaks, and more).

4. Access the possibility of Special Education Services (including support from special education teachers, resource room assistance, targeted reading or math interventions, and so forth).

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