The 411 on GMAT Testing Accommodations

GMACSeveral of my students have asked about the process of requesting testing accommodations for the GMAT, so I thought it’d be helpful to organize the relevant information in one place, along with a brief overview of what to expect.

Who is eligible for testing accommodations?

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.  The GMAC recognizes several categories of disabilities that may warrant testing accommodations, including:

  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Learning and Cognitive Disorders (e.g., dyslexia, dyscalculia)
  • Physical and Systemic Disabilities (e.g., multiple sclerosis, mobility impairments, cerebral palsy, cancer, AIDS, muscle dystrophy)
  • Psychological Disabilities
  • Sensory Disabilities (e.g., vision and hearing impairments)

If you have a documented disability, then you may be entitled to testing accommodations on the GMAT.

What kinds of accommodations are offered?

The most common accommodations are:

  • Additional testing time (+50% or +100%)
  • Extended or additional rest breaks
  • Someone to read items to you
  • Someone to record your responses
  • Screen-reader software and/or enlarged type font

How do I apply for testing accommodations?

Read the GMAT Handbook Supplement for Test Takers with Disabilities and follow the instructions about creating a profile and submitting the appropriate documentation to Pearson VUE (which administers the GMAT) via fax or snail mail only.  There is no extra charge for testing accommodations, but you must submit the standard $250 test fee along with your application.

Keep in mind that the GMAC requires more than just an official diagnosis before granting testing accommodations; they need an in-depth examination of how your disability is affecting you currently, and why the requested accommodations are necessary and appropriate relative to your disability.  Documentation guidelines for the various categories of disabilities are available here.

Once your application is received, you’ll get an email confirming that the process is underway, and then it’s time to play the waiting game.

How long does the application process take?

Usually they will get back to with their decision within 7-10 business days, but officially they give themselves a cushion of 26-30 calendar days.  It’s important to note that you must apply for accommodations before scheduling your test date; they will not grant testing accommodations to an already scheduled test date.  If you want to check on the status of your application, the GMAC Testing Accommodations Department can be reached via email at, or via phone at 1-800-466-0450.

Once a decision has been made regarding your application, you’ll get an email notification with the results.  If accommodations are granted, then it’s time to actually schedule your exam.  Only certain testing centers are designated to handle testing accommodations, and there are a limited number of slots available at any given time, so you can’t schedule the exam online yourself.  You’ll have to call to leave a message for a scheduling specialist, and then someone should call you back within 3 business days to find an appropriate test location and date for you.

I don’t have a disability but I’m always running out of time on the GMAT.  Can I get extra time?

Pretty much everybody would love some extra time on the GMAT, myself included.  It’s a challenging test, and lots of people have issues with pacing.  Accommodations are designed to provide equal access to people who are truly disabled relative to the general population.  Pacing issues alone don’t qualify someone for extra time.

Some other things to keep in mind

Don’t want until the last minute to apply for accommodations.  The whole process of getting the proper documentation, submitting it to Pearson, awaiting their response, and then scheduling the exam is fairly involved, so give yourself plenty of time to do it.  I had one student with a diagnosed learning disability who decided to apply for testing accommodations only after he had already taken the GMAT twice and hadn’t gotten the score he wanted.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time before his b-school application due date to apply for accommodations, so he had to take the exam without any.  (Fortunately, we got his score up to where it needed to be anyway—yay!)  The point is, if you think you might be eligible for accommodations, start getting your documentation together and submit the application as soon as possible.

Some accommodations can be a double-edged sword.  Extra time is great, right?  Except that more time on the GMAT also means more time to get fatigued and stressed out.  Another student of mine had double time, meaning that he took the test over two consecutive days.  But after the first day, he was convinced he had bombed the quant section (which turned out not to be the case), and as a result he barely slept that night and was exhausted for the verbal section on day two.  Whatever the accommodation you’re applying for, just don’t expect it to be a panacea.

Helpful links

Are you studying for the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Ryan McGorman