Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Accommodated exams

Tests and quizzes are an important component in how students demonstrate competency with subject matter. There are many different types of assessments that are used by instructional faculty, and there are different types of barriers that can arise.

  • Testing accommodations apply to timed tests and quizzes – not to take home or untimed assessments.
  • Faculty and students should discuss how tests and quizzes will be accommodated at the start of the term.
  • Testing Centers are a resource that can be used when appropriate.

Please review the PCC Accommodated Testing Handbook or this handout.

Scheduling accommodated exams

Before you can schedule alternative testing:

  • You must be eligible for this accommodation.
  • You and your instructor must have discussed your Approved Academic Accommodation (AAA) letter to confirm whether or not you need the testing center to proctor the test.

As soon as you know your instructor wants the testing center to proctor your exams, have your course syllabus ready and log in to schedule as soon as possible.

  • In the My Accommodations section, select Alternative Testing.
  • If your instructor has filled out an alternative testing agreement form, you should be able to select your class from the list. Select the class and click on the Schedule an Exam button.
  • Next, select the exam type and specify the date, time, campus, and accommodations that are appropriate for the class. Note that if your exam is to be taken or in the later part of the day or on the weekend, or in a location that is not a PCC campus, you can use the “PCC Extended Hours” option when scheduling your testing center appointment.
  • Click Add Exam Request to complete your request. Repeat until you have scheduled all your exams for the term. You should receive an email confirmation that you request has been submitted.
  • Testing Center staff will send you a second email confirming your exam after they have reviewed and approved your request.

Learn more in this handout or video tutorial about requesting and scheduling accommodated exams.

If you need to make changes to an approved exam request, you will need to look under Upcoming Exam Request(s) for the Current Class section. Click on Modify Request and specify all changes. Please remember that your request to modify your exam has to be reviewed and approved by the Testing Center staff.

Late exam requests

If you cannot schedule your exam because it’s considered a late exam, please contact the Testing Center staff to see if your exam can be scheduled.

Examples of frequently requested testing accommodations are described below. Consideration is always afforded through the interactive process. Faculty and students should always communicate with one another and consult with AEDR if there are questions.

Extended time

Extended time applies to timed exams and quizzes. The extension is applied as an adjustment to the standard testing time. Thus, if a student is eligible for 1.5 times the standard, it means the student receives 150% of the time afforded to the class as a whole. If the class was given an hour – the student eligible for the adjustment would get an hour and a half.

Note that:

  • Our accommodation management system applies the adjustment, so faculty should always list the standard time on the test proctoring agreement form.
  • Students who are eligible for double time, are also eligible for time and a half, and will be able to choose which adjustment to apply when scheduling their exams.
  • Student and Instructor should engage in the interactive process early and frequently to establish an agreed upon plan for any upcoming accommodated exams should take place.

Extended time can be applied to distance education exams as well as those proctored on campus.

Reduced distraction environments

While it is not possible to create a distraction-free testing environment, reduced distraction environments are provided to minimize distractions from line of sight or sounds.

At PCC, reduced distraction eligibility is described in terms of two categories.

  • Moderate reduced distraction environments, which are spaces that may have more than one tester present at a time
  • Severe reduced distraction rooms which are typically occupied by only one tester at a time

Testing centers also provide options such as noise cancelling headsets and white noise machines.

Readers and scribes

Readers and scribes can be important. Sometimes a human reader or scribe is best, but other times, technology can be used in a similar way. If a student uses an in class aide, it is often best to have that person serve as reader or scribe.

Readers will only read what is on the printed page and cannot be asked to interpret, define, explain or reword questions. They may, however, repeat information when asked. Students are responsible for communicating with the reader about their needs for tone, rate, etc.

Scribes will write down verbatim what students have dictated. The scribe is not responsible for organizing or paraphrasing students’ words, or for correcting grammar and punctuation. Students may request at any time to review what the scribe has written, either by reading it or asking the scribe to read it aloud.

Accessible furniture

Adjustable height tables and chairs are available in testing center spaces.

Accessible formats

Accessible Formats are exam materials converted from standard hard copy into accessible electronic formats such as Word documents, PDF, html, large print, Braille, tactile graphics, etc.


CCTV units are available in testing rooms, as are handheld magnification units.

Text to speech

Screen readers and file readers are software that providing text in an audio format. Exams must be provided in an accessible electronic format to provide computer screen reader accommodations. Reading pens are also available. These are handheld devices that can read aloud from hard copy.

Speech to text

Computer Speech to Text is software to transcribe a student’s speech into a text document. Students speak directly into a microphone to create a text document. The software does not provide any assistance with grammar, spelling, or punctuation, the student is responsible for editing the document as needed via speech or keyboard controls.

Music and white noise machines and noise cancelling headphones

Students are able to use noise cancelling or white noise machines, or listen to music during exams that are proctored in the Testing Centers. Each testing centers has devices and music selections available. Students cannot bring in personal devices or music that has not been pre-approved.

Memory aids

A memory aid is a tool to trigger information that the student has studied but may have difficulty recalling due to processing deficits with memory. The student is responsible for creating the aid. The instructor determines whether the information used is acceptable and if so, approves it prior to the exam.

Memory aids can contain acronyms, short phrases, pictures, schematic diagrams or mind maps, names, definitions, tables, charts or key terms and certain formulae. Styles of memory aids may vary. Generally, they can be written or typed, 10 or 12 font, on a large index card, OR up to one side of an 8 ½” x 11” sheet of paper. A memory aid is only allowed in the Testing Center if it was sent in by the faculty member.

Memory aids are not:

  • Full course notes
  • Answer sheets
  • Substitutes for studying
  • Open textbooks
  • Step by step directions

See our handout on instructor approved memory aids

Instructor approved testing accommodations Handouts and information

Spell checkers

Students taking college level courses are expected to produce written work that conforms to standards. Students who are completing out of class work would can access spell checking technology and may request access to such during in-class activities or timed exams as an accommodation. If faculty are concerned that providing access to spell checking tools would fundamentally alter the assessment process, the concerns should be raised with Accessible Ed & Disability Resources as soon as possible.


Students who experience specific deficits in arithmetic functioning may request access to a simple calculator or multiplication table. Instructors who have concerns should discuss with Accessible Ed & Disability Resources.

Calculator use (type to be determined by instructor) applies only when a student is eligible for use of a calculator when taking quizzes or exams and this is approved by the instructor. If this is the case, instructors need to indicate which type of calculator should be allowed in the Alternative Testing Contract. See the Testing Agreement for additional information.

Adjustments will never lower standards or fundamentally alter the exam. Questions? Please contact Accessible Ed & Disability Resources.