Alternative Testing Guidelines

A core expectation at MSU involves faculty control and responsibility for testing in their courses. Most students with disabilities can take their examinations in the usual manner, along with everyone else, and RCPD staff encourages them to do so. But occasionally, a student in a class will need to arrange an alternative method for taking course examinations due to a physical, sensory, or cognitive disability.

The RCPD maintains a limited number of testing rooms with video monitoring for use when students with disabilities require highly tailored testing arrangements including readers, scribes, assistive technology or are otherwise not able to test in or near the classroom.  Given RCPD space limitations and the University's continued goal towards inclusion, students with disabilities will primarily remain in or near the classroom or department for which they are taking an exam.


Eligibility for Alternative Testing:

  1. Talk to professor or TA about getting accommodations with them.
  2.  If unavailable, contact testing coordinator well in advance but no less than 7 days before the exam to reserve a room. (The sooner testing coordinator is contacted, the easier it will be.
  3. Once the RCPD has reserved a room for you, give the ATSA form to your professor or TA. Make sure that the student section is filled out and the professor must return the form with the exam.
  4. Arrive 5-10 minutes before exam start time.
  5. If the exam date changes, is cancelled, or the professor found you a room at last minute, contact the testing coordinator immediately. Rooms fill up fast and we need to see what is available on the new date and if your professor found you a different room at last minute, we need to be informed so that we can offer the previously reserved room to another student in need.

Tools for Accommodation:

Sometimes students with print-related disabilities (severe learning disabilities, blindness, low vision, the inability to use their hands) are allowed access to technology to complete an exam. RCPD can facilitate the use of adaptive equipment such as computers with screen readers or voice input, talking calculators, electronic text magnifiers, Braille writers, and digital book players). A student registered with RCPD is often allowed extended time when using such equipment. When a student is using assistive technology for an exam an electronic version of the exam is often necessary.

Alternative Testing Environments:

In most cases, students should be required to take a test in the same classroom at the same time with the other students. If an accommodation demands the exam be administered in a place other than the regular exam site, efforts should be made to provide a setting free from interruptions and distractions. The location should also provide adequate privacy for working with a reader, scribe, or adaptive equipment if necessary. Proctoring should be provided. A student should not be expected to cope with distractions in hallways and other public areas. A good option is a vacant classroom or departmental office. In rare situations where an appropriate testing site can not be arranged by the instructor, the student may reserve an alternative testing room.


Whatever testing procedure is adopted, it is important that it measures the student's knowledge of the course content and not the student's disability. If unsure of the student's disability status or in need of clarification on individual accommodations, faculty may contact RCPD.

Students are expected to speak with faculty regarding testing accommodations when they present VISAs.  Working collaboratively with the student is the best way to implement testing accommodations.  Students must request testing accommodations with reasonable advance notice: RCPD requires 7 days (14 days before a final).

Often, faculty members have understood presentation of a VISA as evidence that tests should be administered at the RCPD. In an attempt to correct this misconception and to provide guidance to faculty and student alike, RCPD offers the following clarification:

Testing Formats:

  • Reader
  • Scribe
  • Enlarged Print
  • Braille

Testing Accommodations:

  • Extended time: Student is allotted a specific percentage of additional time on tests/quizzes/exams (i.e. on a 1 hour exam, a student with 25% extended time receives an additional 15 minutes, for a total of 1.25 hours on the exam).
  • Reduced Distraction Seating: Location where distractions are minimized. This can be facilitated with strategic classroom seating and student provision of distraction reducing aids such as earplugs, or placement into an adjacent room with a small number of other students who require a similar testing environment.
  • Separate Testing Room: Nature of student's disability may necessitate providing a separate room during testing (i.e. a student may utilize the services of a reader/scribe, sit/stand/move as needed, or use assistive technology). When a reader/scribe is needed, RCPD can send these individuals to a designated room on campus under your supervision (personal office, departmental conference room, etc.).

Solutions for Supervising Exams

  • Begin exam before regularly scheduled test time so student finishes at the same time as the class.
  • Split extended time by beginning exam early and staying later.
  • Finish and/or take exam in a departmental office or conference room suitable for testing.
  • Be flexible- allow student to take an exam at a different time and/or date if appropriate.
  • Check with Classroom Scheduling (517-355-4622) to identify a neighboring classroom without a subsequent arriving class where the test can be administered.
  • Allow TAs to proctor exams in separate room for students requiring testing accommodations.

(View Complete Testing Guidelines)