Accommodations Testing Service
The Accommodations Testing Service at McLean Hospital specializes in evaluations for students with academic or learning difficulties who are seeking accommodations at school or for standardized college and/or graduate school exams, including SAT, ACT, GRE, LSAT, GMAT, or MCAT.
Each standardized test organization is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide accommodations to each student with a documented need.
For more information or to make a referral, please call 617.855.3183.
Accommodations are alterations in the way tasks are presented that allow students with academic or learning difficulties to complete the same assignments as other students.
Accommodations do not alter the content of assignments, give students an unfair advantage, or, in the case of standardized tests, change what a test measures. Accommodations make it possible for individuals to demonstrate what they know within the context of their abilities.
Our self-pay testing service is conducted on an outpatient basis and an evaluation can take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours. If needed, testing can be broken up into two days.
The assessments are conducted via interviews, paper-and-pencil tests, and some computerized tasks, all of which are administered and interpreted by our experienced neuropsychologists. In addition, we require access to an academic history, reports of past evaluations, and documentation of current and/or past accommodations.
Based on results of our evaluation, we will provide the necessary and specific documentation to support the request for accommodations.
Who We See
The Accommodations Testing Service is available to individuals age 16 and up. Our assessments are best suited to students who:
- Have already been diagnosed with some kind of academic disability, or those who suspect that they may have a disability, and are seeking accommodations in taking a standardized examination
- Have ADHD, learning disabilities such as dyslexia, acquired brain injury from concussion, or complex psychiatric mental health issues that may be interfering with optimal functioning in the school setting
The vast majority of college-age students who come for an evaluation have already been diagnosed and have generally been receiving some type of academic accommodations throughout their school career.
Those who seek to take standardized examinations, either for college admission (e.g., SAT, ACT) or for admission to a graduate-level program (e.g., GRE, MCAT, GMAT, LSAT), will need to have a recent re-evaluation of their learning issues geared to the demands of the particular examination they wish to take.
Each standardized examination has its own distinct requirements as to the specific evaluative instruments that it will accept in order to consider granting accommodations to an applicant.
Individuals seeking other neuropsychological or psychological testing should contact the Neuropsychological and Psychological Testing Service, while parents or guardians seeking assessments for children or adolescents should contact the Child and Adolescent Testing Service (CATS), part of McLean’s Child and Adolescent Outpatient Services.
Types of Accommodations
Accommodations fall into six basic categories. Establishing which of these will be helpful to the student depends on the nature of the individual’s difficulties and their history. Testing evaluates which accommodation(s) will be the most helpful for the individual.
- Presentation: large print, reduced number of items per page or per line, having the test questions and instructions read aloud (either with an audio tape or a designated reader), repetition of instructions
- Response: allowing for verbal responses, allowing for answers to be dictated to a scribe, to speech-to-text software, or to a tape recorder, allowing a computer to be used for responses (with or without spell check or grammar programs), permitting answers to be recorded directly into the test booklet
- Time: allowing frequent breaks, extending allotted time to complete a test
- Location: providing special lighting or acoustics (e.g., noise cancelling headphones), providing a space that minimizes distractions, minimizing the number of other students in the room, giving preferential seating
- Scheduling: allowing subtests to be taken in a different order, administering a test at a specific time of day, allowing different sections to be taken on different days
Other accommodations may include special test preparation, allowing food/snacks during test or at breaks, offering on-task/focusing prompts, as well as any reasonable accommodation that may best meet the needs of the individual.
The specific nature and extent of accommodations will depend on the needs of the particular student and will be reflected by the findings of the accommodations evaluation.
Sara L. Weisenbach, PhD, ABPP, Chief of Neuropsychology
Dr. Weisenbach is a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist and a clinical translational researcher. Her career has been focused on improving the quality of care for individuals with cognitive and psychiatric concerns through clinical care, cutting-edge research, education and mentorship, and service to the fields of neuropsychology and geriatric psychiatry. She has been continuously funded since 2008 (NIH, VA) for her work on depression and cognition during middle-age and late life.
Allen Schiller, PhD, Assistant Director, Consultation Liaison Service; Director, Neuropsychology Training
Dr. Schiller is an instructor in psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He manages the day-to-day operations of the Neuropsychology Department, including all referrals, and coordinates the post-doctoral training program. Dr. Schiller also works with adults and older adults and provides other clinical and consultative services as a senior neuropsychologist.
The Neuropsychology Department has been offering outpatient neuropsychological and psychological testing since 1994.
Neuropsychological and psychological testing at McLean dates to the early 1900s, when the hospital founded its first laboratory dedicated to the science of measuring capacities such as cognition and knowledge (also known as psychometrics).
Over the years, thousands of individuals from across the country and around the world have come to McLean to draw on the hospital’s expertise in this area.
Staff in the Neuropsychology Department have decades of clinical experience devoted to better understanding cognitive, psychological, emotional, and academic difficulties, and are especially adept at assessing highly complex individuals with multiple contributing factors.
Our doctors are also engaged in mental health research and in the training and teaching of psychology fellows and psychiatry residents.
McLean’s Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Adult and Geriatric Clinical Neuropsychology, a two-year training program focused on neuropsychological evaluations with adult and older adult patients, has graduated more than 40 fellows since 1995.
The Neuropsychological and Psychological Testing Service is located on McLean’s Belmont campus, in South Belknap, Floor 3. For more information on directions and parking, please visit our Maps & Directions page.
Make an Appointment
Students seeking an evaluation for accommodations for standardized exams may contact us directly to set up an appointment. A referral is not required.
The evaluations offered by the Accommodations Testing Service are not covered by insurance, therefore the program cost is out of pocket.
For more information or to make an appointment, please contact: