GRE Accommodations: What You Need to Know

Test day is stressful. For those of us with disabilities, physical impairments, or other health-related challenges, it can be even more daunting. ETS, the GRE’s official test-maker, offers GRE accommodations for test-takers with additional needs. This means you can qualify for extra time, braille versions of the test, ergonomic keyboards, and other modifications. It’s important to know 1) if you qualify for accommodations, 2) what your accommodation will be, and 3) how to submit a request for GRE accommodations.
In an effort to ensure the equality of the GRE, ETS is committed to assisting those who qualify as described under the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Applications are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

1. Do I qualify for GRE accommodations?

Some reasons for GRE accommodation are more common than others. The most cited reasons for accommodations, according to the ETS, include:
ADHD: persistent patterns of inattention and/or hyperactivity that interferes with normal functions.
Autism Spectrum Disorder: a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by features of social/communication deficits, repetitive/restrictive behaviors, and a lack of emotional reciprocity.
Blindness/Low Vision: visual acuity that is less than 20/200, or severe visual impairment that is partially improved, but not fully resolved, by corrective lenses.
Deaf/Hard of Hearing: permanent hearing loss.
Intellectual Disabilities: a disorder with onset during the developmental period that includes both intellectual and adaptive functioning deficits in conceptual, social, and practical domains.
Learning Disabilities: significant difficulties in acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities.
Physical Disabilities/Chronic Health Conditions: a variety of impairments including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, asthma, and immune disorders, among others. Must substantially limit one or more major life activities.
Psychiatric Disabilities: characterized by different degrees of emotional, developmental, cognitive, and/or behavioral manifestations (i.e. obsessive-compulsive, bipolar, generalized anxiety, mood, and post-traumatic stress disorders).
Traumatic Brain Injury: disruption of normal brain function as a result of exposure to external physical force.

2. What will my accommodations be?

The ETS has created a description of common testing accommodations. Here are some of the options available to test-takers with a need for accommodations.
Extended Time: Test takers can receive up to a 50% time increases, or “time and a half.” If a test lasts for 3 hours, a 50% increase results in an additional 1.5 hours, or 4.5 hours total. Occasionally a test-taker will qualify for a 100% increase, or double time.
Extra Breaks: Allows students to take unscheduled breaks. This could include time for snacks, rest, medicine, etc.
Reader or Scribe: A designated Reader can read the test print aloud. A Scribe can write/bubble a student’s answers.
Oral Interpreters: Oral Interpreters communicate verbal directions to deaf students through sign language.
Braille Slate/Perkins Brailler: Allows visually impaired students assistance for note taking.

3. How do I submit a GRE accommodation request?

If you qualify for a GRE accommodation, you’ll need to show proper documentation. This type of documentation much match criteria set forth by the ETS, including current evaluations, medical history, a signed document printed on a letterhead, etc. 
Each individual case is different, so it’s important to request accommodations early. The ETS states that it can take up to 6 weeks for accommodations to be processed properly. 
The documents can be submitted through both mail and email. In the case of some accommodations, a member of ETS Disability Services will get in contact with you to schedule your exam. 
If your request is approved, a formal letter stating accommodation approval will arrive from ETS. It will contain a voucher/authorization number, so make sure to have this file on hand when you are preparing to register.
If your request is not approved, proceed through the normal steps of GRE registration.