Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Extra Time on Exams

I recently stumbled upon an article about a dyslexic Yale student who wasn’t allowed extra time on this medical licencing exam. I don’t know all the details of the case, but it did make me think about IEP’s (individual education plans) and the way extra time on exams can affect dyslexic students.

As a kid I got very little extra help from the public school system. My parents hired a private tutor for me as soon as I got diacnosed with dyslexia and pressured the school to keep me mainstreamed as much as possible. By the time I got to high school, I’d become so good at working the system that nobody seemed to notice or care that I couldn’t read. Bonehead English was the only non-honors/AP class in my schedule.

But when it came time to take the SAT, I did pull the IEP card to get myself some extra time. I took the SAT twice, once with regular time and once with extended time. My math score stayed the same for both exams (I actually cut back the amount of time I spent on the math sections when I had control of the clock). But my verbal score went up by more than 100 points when I had time to read the questions. That was what I wanted to show colleges, that I knew how to speak English, I just read really slow.

The thing is, there comes a time in a persons life when reading slow stops being a good excuse. I’m not given extra time to get my work done now that I have a job. And I’d be apprehensive about a doctor who needed extra time to read my medical charts. So I actually think it’s a good thing that the medical board refused to give that Yale student extra time. Eventually, you just need to learn how to read.

While in college, I got all my textbooks on tape. But I never asked any of my professors for extra time on exams. I could have had it if I asked, but most of the time I finished early. I have to take my engineers licencing exam pretty soon, and I would never dare to ask for extra time. If I can’t pass the test, I shouldn’t be alowed to stamp construction plans. And time shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

All this discussion of tests reminds me of a few years ago when I considered getting an MBA. I gave up on the idea before I got around to applying, but I did take the GMAT. My results shocked me. My verbal score was higher than my math score. How does a dyslexic engineer do better on a verbal exam than a math exam? The only answer I can come up with is that I learned how to read. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to pass exams without reading the questions as a kid. Now that I can read the questions, the tests seem really easy.

Hopefully, that Yale med student has learned how to read too. There’s no reason why a dyslexic can’t be a doctor. But I hope that my doctor can read my charts without to much extra time.

Joke of the Day
When it comes right down to it, dyslexics have more nuf.

1 comment:

Anissa said...

Interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

"Dyslexics have more nuf." Love it!