mcat accommodations

MCAT Accommodations: What You Need to Know

MCAT test day is stressful. For those of us with disabilities, physical impairments, or other health-related challenges, it can be even more daunting. The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges), administrator of the MCAT, provides a variety of accommodations you can request to ensure that you have a fair experience with the MCAT. It’s helpful to know beforehand 1) if you qualify for accommodations, 2) what your accommodations will be, and 3) how to submit a request for MCAT accommodations.

Keep in mind that Kaplan also provides reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities for our courses. 

 

1. Do I qualify for MCAT accommodations?

Just because you have a diagnosis or you’ve qualified for accommodations in the past doesn’t automatically qualify you for MCAT accommodations. You’ll still be required to submit a request detailing your functional limitations, the accommodations you require, and how those accommodations will give you the same opportunity for MCAT success as other test-takers.

Some examples of conditions that might qualify you for accommodations are as follows:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Physical impairments, either permanent or temporary (Crohn’s disease, broken leg, etc.)
  • ADHD 
  • Psychiatric (depression, anxiety, etc.)
  • Sensory Impairment (hearing, vision, etc.)
  • Nursing mothers/pregnancy

2. What will my MCAT accommodations be?

You and your evaluator—a qualified professional supporting your request—will need to suggest the accommodations you deem appropriate for your situation. Some examples of accommodations you might request include the following:

  • Extended testing time: Your evaluator will need to explain how extended time will accommodate your needs and suggest a specific amount of extra time.
  • Food and drink: While you don’t need special accommodations to access food from your locker during breaks, food/drink isn’t allowed inside the testing room. That means that if you need to access food constantly or immediately, you’ll need accommodations. 
  • Stop-the-clock breaks: In addition to the regularly scheduled breaks between sections, this accommodation allows you extra breaks whenever you need them to manage a condition, take medication, access food/water, etc. The reason for the breaks can’t have anything to do with processing the test material (such as spending extra time on a question). 
  • Pregnancy/nursing-related accommodations: For pregnancy-related limitations, you’ll need to suggest the accommodations you need in your initial request and explain why they’re necessary. Nursing mothers cannot bring a baby into a testing center to nurse, and they cannot leave the testing center during a test. If you’re pumping, you can request extra break time to pump. You can work with the testing site to find a suitable location. 
  • Separate testing: Because the testing environment is highly controlled for everyone, separate testing is a fairly rare accommodation. If you and your evaluator feel it necessary, though, you can request to test separately. 
  • Accessibility accommodations including an adjustable-height workstation, adaptive mouse, or text enlargement.

Items that don’t require special accommodation include the following:

  • Pills
  • Insulin
  • Pillow
  • Crutches/cane/walker
  • Wheelchair (Standard exam tables are 30 inches high. If you require an adjustable-height table, please request that accommodation)
  • Oxygen tank
  • Inhalers
  • Epipen

Earplugs, noise reducing headphones, and tissues are also allowed, as long as they’re provided by the testing center.

3. How do I submit a request for MCAT accommodations?

You’ll submit your request for accommodations via MCAT Accommodations Online. The review process may take up to 60 days, so plan accordingly

You need to submit documentation of your disability, related impairments, and how those impairments would affect your ability to take the MCAT without accommodations. A diagnosis does not automatically qualify you for MCAT accommodations, and an accommodation on a previous standardized test doesn’t either—your current functional limitations are the only things that can qualify you for MCAT accommodations. 

The steps for requesting MCAT accommodations are as follows:

Create an AAMC ID, if you don’t already have one. Log on to MCAT Accommodations Online (MAO) and complete the Profile, Condition, and History sections. 

Write a Personal Statement. This statement should be focused on your functional limitations, any previous accommodations you’ve received on other standardized tests, and the MCAT accommodations you feel are necessary to give you an equal opportunity for success as any other test-takers. Don’t worry about restating things included in your official documentation, and don’t spend time describing your educational experiences as a whole. Your Personal Statement is an opportunity for you to discuss how your functional limitations have affected you in test-taking situations and how previous testing accommodations (if you’ve received any) have helped you. If you have never received or requested an accommodation before, explain why. 

Be evaluated by a qualified professional. According to the AAMC, “The professional should have comprehensive training and experience in the assessment and diagnosis of the disability or impairment in question. Simply having a particular degree or license does not necessarily mean that the professional has the training and experience in the appropriate area that is required for your assessment.” Reference the AAMC’s evaluator requirements for more information. According to the AAMC, the evaluator must address the following in his/her evaluation: 

  1. Identification of your diagnosis and impairments
  2. Discussion of the current functional limitations affecting your access to the exam
  3. Recommendations for accommodation on the exam 
  4. A rationale for each recommended accommodation

Share the ”What Evaluators Need to Know” Guide with your evaluator, in addition to any of the following further instructions that may apply to you:

Provide academic and supporting documentation of your functional limitations. Documentation may include any or all of the following:

  • Academic Transcripts: These may include high school, undergraduate, and graduate transcripts. 
  • Standardized Test Score Reports: Only applicable if the requested accommodations have been received in the past. These include the reports of any standardized tests you’ve taken, regardless of your date of diagnosis.
  • Verification of Previous Accommodation: Only applicable if the requested accommodations have been received in the past. You should provide official documentation of any accommodations received on previous standardized tests or in educational institutions (such as Disability Support Services Letters, Section 504 plans, or IEPs). 
  • Supporting Academic Records: These may include report cards, tutoring evaluations, notes of unofficial accommodations provided, notes from doctors referencing academic issues, etc. 
  • Previous Evaluations: You’re required to provide both a current evaluation of your condition and previous evaluations, including any assessments of your functional limitations and discussion for your need for accommodations. 
  • Academic Transcripts: These may include high school, undergraduate, and graduate transcripts. 
  • Standardized Test Score Reports: Only applicable if the requested accommodations have been received in the past. These include the reports of any standardized tests you’ve taken, regardless of your date of diagnosis. 
  • Verification of Previous Accommodation: Only applicable if the requested accommodations have been received in the past. You should provide official documentation of any accommodations received on previous standardized tests or in educational institutions (such as Disability Support Services Letters, Section 504 plans, or IEPs). 
  • Supporting Academic Records: These may include report cards, tutoring evaluations, notes of unofficial accommodations provided, notes from doctors referencing academic issues, etc. 
  • Previous Evaluations: You’re required to provide both a current evaluation of your condition and previous evaluations, including any assessments of your functional limitations and discussion for your need for accommodations. 

Once you’ve submitted your request, the AAMC will review your request and notify you via email when they’ve made a decision. You can view the decision on your MAO account. If your request has been approved, you’ll be given information on how to schedule your exam with your requested accommodations and a date range within which your accommodations are approved.

You can schedule your MCAT whether or not you’ve already received approval for accommodations. If you haven’t yet received approval and would like to schedule your exam, register and schedule your MCAT in the MCAT Registration System. Once you receive approval for accommodations, call Pearson VUE at 1-800-466-0450 to confirm that the accommodations you require will be available. Some testing centers may not be able to provide every accommodation, so you may need to reschedule your MCAT at a different testing center. 

If you have already received accommodation approval, complete all the sections in the MCAT Registration System except the “Scheduling” section. Call Pearson VUE at 1-800-466-0450 to schedule a test date and location with your accommodations.