Taking the Graduate Records Examination can be intimidating for anyone, but students struggling with dyslexia may be particularly concerned. Dyslexia impairs your ability to process written language, so any written test becomes problematic. However, a study published in the journal “Psychological Science” confirms that dyslexia is independent of IQ, so the disorder should not deter you from pursuing an advanced degree. With the right kind of preparation and planning, you can do well on the GRE and increase your chances of studying at the college of your dreams.
Under certain conditions, Educational Testing Service will grant special accommodations to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities, including dyslexia. ETS grants extra time to complete the exam if your disability is documented by a mental health professional. The amount of time you are granted will depend on how severely your dyslexia interferes with your ability to complete the test. Students should submit requests for accommodation at least six weeks prior to their desired testing date.
Practice Makes Perfect
All students should familiarize themselves with the GRE before taking it, but this step is critical if you have dyslexia, in order to avoid wasting time deciphering the written directions in each of the test sections while taking the test. If you are familiar with the test’s basic structure, you can scan the directions for verbal and quantitative tasks you recognize, like quantitative comparison or text completion questions. This does not mean that you should forgo reading the directions altogether. Rather, scan the directions first to orient yourself, and then read them thoroughly.
For dyslexics, misreading a question can lead to answering questions incorrectly, even relatively easy ones. Dyslexics often have problems tracking words as they read across a page, so when reading a passage, try using your finger to point to each word. Read slowly and carefully to ensure that you have perceived each word correctly. When reading longer passages, such as those in the reading comprehension sections, take notes on your scratch paper, recording the main points as they are presented.
The University of Michigan provides a list of tips for alleviating the effects of dyslexia when taking a test. These include getting a good night’s rest before the day of the exam, as tiredness can worsen symptoms. Also, eat a good meal before your test to maintain a balanced blood sugar level while testing. Finally, budget your time during the test, so that you do not rush through questions, but also allow some time to check your answers.
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