How to Get GRE Testing Accommodations

The ETS has a stronger history of providing GRE testing accommodations than either the College Board or the ACT, but that also means that accommodations on the GRE aren’t like those on the SAT or the ACT. Whether you’re working with one of our tutors or preparing on your own, you should understand what the accommodations available to you are and the steps you should take to apply. Don’t assume that because you were denied accommodations on the ACT/SAT that you won’t be able to get GRE testing accommodations—but don’t assume in the other direction, either! Test accommodations on the GRE are a whole different beast, and we’ll cover how and why they are different below.

What GRE Testing Accommodations are Available?

The most common accommodations on the GRE are time-related accommodations. Most testers looking for accommodations will be familiar with these already. The GRE extra time accommodations are:

  • Time and a half (50% extra time on all test sections)
  • Double time (100% extra time on all test sections)
  • Extra breaks (not included in testing time—can be used for bathroom breaks, refocusing, taking medication, etc.)

If you believe these accommodations might help you, they are worth investigating. Many people don’t realize that extra breaks are offered, but even this simple change can make a big difference. The testing accommodations the GRE offers don’t stop there, however.

Accessibility Accommodations

The GRE is a digital test, and that means that many of the accommodations options are fundamentally different from those for a paper test like the SAT or the ACT. On the GRE, the computer-driven test means that students have access to a wide range of accommodations for interfacing with the test. Students looking for accessibility accommodations can expect:

  • Ergonomic keyboard
  • IntelliKeys keyboard
  • JAWS screen-reader software, with or without a refreshable Braille device
  • Keyboard with a touchpad or trackball
  • Screen customizations, such as magnification, changeable colors, and changeable fonts

The options above deal only with the written portion of the test. Accommodations are also available to assist students who need a spoken version of parts of the test, such as instructions. ETS offers the following verbal accessibility accommodations:

  • Reading or scribing assistance
  • Oral interpreter (including sign language)
  • Braille options (slate and stylus, Perkins)

The above accessibility accommodations aren’t perfect, but they are a good way to make the test more accessible to all students. What’s more, if you contact the ETS with a specific accommodations request, they may be able to provide custom accommodations.

Test Format Accommodations

Of course, the above accommodations won’t work for everyone. ETS also offers the following alternative test formats:

  • Braille
  • Large-print test book (physical, not digital)
  • Recorded audio (supplements available)

How to apply for GRE Testing Accommodations

With so many options available, the GRE is making good strides towards making the test accessible to most students. But the process to get accommodations for the test is a lengthy one, so you should get started as soon as you decide that accommodations will be helpful. If any of the accommodations listed above seem like they might help your testing experience, then don’t delay!

Beginning the process is easy: just log in to your account at ETS.org (the one you used to register for the test) and start your application. You’ll need to supply certain documentation to demonstrate your need for whatever accommodations you’re applying for. The tough part is the waiting: it can take 4 to 6 weeks to process your request, and that’s during a normal year (at the time of this writing, we haven’t had a normal year in what feels like a decade). If you’re requesting custom accommodations, the process will take even longer, so make sure you plan ahead.

While you’re waiting for your accommodations to be processed, you should still be prepping for the test! Luckily, the ETS offers all its official test prep materials in accessible format, so you can practice exactly the same way you would take the test. Our test prep experts can walk you through the process and get you practicing the best strategies to beat the test in no time. Learn more about the test or find a tutor to work with here.

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