Many standardized tests, including the LSAT, GRE and Praxis exams, are now delivered through electronic systems. These systems make it easier for testing companies to administer exams, but they are not necessarily in the best interest of students for quick processing on test day. In fact, students with vision and learning challenges may perform better with a paper-delivered exam.
Visual Tracking 101
Interestingly, the way that our eyes track information on paper while reading is different than how we track the same information on a screen. On paper, we are looking down, but a computer screen generally requires you to look in front of you. These are different postures, and many students have difficulty operating at the same processing speed while looking through a screen.
Students also struggle with visual tracking problems. Visual tracking is the ability to control your eye movements by using your vision and eye muscles together. It allows you to maintain your focus on a moving object, or switch your focus between two objects. Students with attention and focus challenges, dyslexia, or other vision or reading-based learning challenges often find reading on a screen more challenging to track information, especially with limited on-screen annotation tools to help with focus.
Too much eye strain can lead to test-day migraines.
Qualifying for Paper-Delivered Testing
Unfortunately, with the advent of computer-based testing came an additional requirement for paper-preferred testers: you have to request the paper-delivered test, and have a reasonable basis for doing so which is supported by a qualified professional.
Students I have worked with over the years have successfully qualified for paper-delivered testing as a result of a variety of diagnoses, including ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, migraine disorder, and convergence disorders. But not all who qualify prefer the paper-delivered option.
Below is a brief quiz to help you determine if paper-delivered testing is right for you. If you are scheduled to take a computer-based test but, after taking the quiz, realize a paper-delivered test is better for you, consider rescheduling your exam until you can apply for and be approved of the accommodation request. Feel free to schedule a free consultation with me to discuss accessing whether you are a candidate for a paper-delivered exam on LSAT, GRE or Praxis exams.
1. When I take a timed test on the computer, my score is generally lower than when I test on paper.
2. When I take a timed test on the computer, I struggle with the reading comprehension section because I often lose my place while reading.
3. When I take a timed test on the computer, I struggle with concentration and focus, and this prevents me from finishing the exam.
4. When I take a timed test on the computer, it is difficult to stay focused because I cannot take notes and highlight the way I prefer.
5. Taking tests on the computer increases symptoms of anxiety that I already have on test day.
3-5 YES: Test on Paper
1-2 YES: Up to you, but definitely take plenty of practice tests on the computer, and try to mimic as many effective paper-based annotation strategies as possible to stay focused. Use scratch paper as necessary, and keep any paper-based notes organized.
0 YES: Testing on a computer is likely best for you, and you'll likely get your scores back quicker, so give it a shot!
If you're not sure whether paper-delivered testing is better for you, give us a call at 240-630-1425 or schedule a free 15-minute consultation with me here.
Study on, and study well!
Shana Ginsburg, Esq.
Founder and CEO,
Ginsburg Advanced Tutoring, LLC
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