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J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 1997;25(2):197-206.

Accommodations for test anxiety under ADA?

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  • 1Wheaton College, Norton, MA 02766, USA.


Test anxiety prevents students from demonstrating their knowledge on examinations. To be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, test anxiety must pass two legal tests. First, it must be a "mental impairment." As a form of Social Phobia, a mental disorder included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it meets this first test. Second, it must "substantially limit one or more of the major life activities." Individuals for whom test anxiety is one manifestation of Social Phobia-Generalized are substantially limited in the major life activities of interacting with others and working. Individuals for whom test anxiety is the only manifestation of their Social Phobia are substantially limited in the major life activities of thinking and working, the latter because they are excluded from any career requiring a test for application, credentialing, licensure, or training. Accommodations may include taking the test in a separate room or taking an untimed examination. Documentation supporting a diagnosis of test anxiety should include evidence of significant impairment in test performance.

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