Midterms and exams usually do not treat me well – I get easily distracted and stressed by my surroundings. Wind blowing through windows, shuffling of paper, and students getting up from being done their midterms early are just some of the few ways that I get distracted, causing my mind to go blank. If I forget a watch and there aren’t clocks in the room, I tend to rush my midterm and make even more mistakes. This stress causes me to not be able to truly reflect my knowledge of a subject that I am being tested on. This has led me to fail many midterms when just a bit less distraction would have helped me succeed further. This is what led me to seek out Accommodated Testing Services (ATS), previously known as Test and Exam Services!
How I got ATS
Accessibility Accommodations vary from student to student, especially with ATS. For this blog, I am speaking of my own experience, but yours may be different! To seek out accommodations, I first went to my doctor to get paperwork completed, then met with my accessibility advisor to talk about accommodations. We decided I should try having a semi-private and noise reduced atmosphere when writing my tests and have breaks to help me refocus without cutting into my midterm time. And just like that, I was able to start booking accommodations for my tests.
Writing in ATS
I was slightly overwhelmed when I went to my first accommodated midterm – even though I knew my accommodations, I wasn’t sure what to expect! Fortunately, the staff were incredibly welcoming and the whole process was laid out for me really well. I stored my backpack away, gave my T-Card to the staff, and we sat down for a quick run-through of my accommodations for my midterm. I was given a small tour of the writing location, including my break area, where to get water, and other information about my surroundings. I was led to a semi-secluded cubicle, with a timer on a computer to assist in tracking time.
During my first few midterms, I felt like I was taking advantage of the system when I was taking my allotted breaks. For most of my life, I had held a misconception that getting assistance like this would be considered an “easy way out”, but that is not the case. Accommodations are about letting students have a fair path to their own success. Getting breaks or less distractions while writing does not mean that I put any less effort into my learning. In fact, it motivates me as I do not feel as defeated after writing midterms and I am more forgiving of myself!
Reflections about ATS
Not every student is good at writing tests – especially since it is not the only way of showing your knowledge about topics. Assignments, group projects, labs, and even just speaking with professors can also reflect your comprehension on topics. I am incredibly grateful that I have been able to write with ATS. I cannot say that my grades have necessarily gotten better, but I do have the reduced stress of taking tests and have become significantly more comfortable with my surroundings!
Remember, if you want to write your final exams with accommodations (and have already registered with Accessibility Services), the deadline is Monday, March 23, and you can find out more here.