American Board of Pediatrics Accommodations for Extra Time
Are you aware of the various American Board of Pediatrics accommodations that are available? These test accommodations are designed for pediatricians who have specific needs, and they can result in you getting twice the amount of time to take the test.
Do you have specific needs when it comes to taking tests? Do you suffer from a condition covered by the ADA or Americans with Disabilities Act and subsequent ADAAA guidelines? Perhaps a condition which is going to leave you struggling for time on the boards?
If so, you might qualify for some amazing special accommodations, such as:
- Extra time to take your exam
- A private testing room away from all other test-takers
- Extended break times
This article will give you the steps you need to pursue to get the special accommodations. We’ll cover important details about why the ABP offers test accommodations, which accommodations are available to you, how to apply, and most importantly – when you must apply to receive test accommodations for your board exam.
Why Does the ABP Offer Test Accommodations?
Like many standardized board exams, the American Board of Pediatrics exam must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) for people who have documented disabilities or a need for test accommodations.
Many people suffer from some sort of medical or neuropsychological condition which creates a hindrance to test taking. Test accommodations are intended to give everyone an equal chance at passing the board exams.
If you believe that you may qualify for a test accommodation, follow the guidelines carefully and be sure to submit your request on time to be given an equal chance to pass your board exams.
Which Test Accommodations Are Available to Me?
On The American Board of Pediatrics Test Accommodations page, you’ll see a brief list of accommodations based on certain topics:
- Breastfeeding Mothers
- Personal Item Exception
- Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act
There is straightforward information on the additional time allowed. You are allowed an extra 30 minutes of break time during the exam. You can store your breast pump in your locker or at the administrative desk.
You must make your request at least 8 weeks prior to the day of your pediatric board exam.
Personal Item Exceptions
These are quite limited. Most personal items are prohibited in the testing room, and only certain medical devices, medications or comfort aids allowed. The ABP refers to Prometric Testing Centers which provides a complete list of personal item exceptions in their PDF: Testing Accommodations Pre Approved Personal Items.
Some examples of medical devices from their list include:
- Earplugs (Foam with no strings)
- Braces – Neck, Back, Wrist, Leg or Ankle
- Cough drops (must be unwrapped and not in a bottle/container)
- Eye drops
- Eyeglasses (without the case)
- Handheld Magnifying Glass (non-electric, no case)
As well as some items which act as comfort aids including “Pillow/Lumbar Support” and “Ice Packs/Heating Pads.”
By the way, in PBR’s Live Test-Taking Strategies course we talk extensively about exam-related stress and anxiety. Test-anxiety is a very common reason that good pediatricians fail the boards due to suboptimal performance.
PEARL: If you suffer from test anxiety, consider using “state dependent memory” and a comfort item to help you get through it. Create a state while you study that you can recreate while you take your exam. For example, use a little lavender oil each time you study and also in the exam.
For your comfort item, use an earplug and roll it between your fingers. It sounds silly, but it works!
Test Center Variability
Not all testing centers know what is allowed and what is not allowed. Our members frequently report significant variability between their experiences at different Prometric testing centers. It is CRITICAL that you print out any information from the Prometric or ABP website to support your decision to take an approved medical or support device into an examination area.
You should also communicate with your specific testing center EARLY about anything that you want to take with you into the examination area. We recommend that you print your documents and visit the testing center in person to have a talk with a manager.
Conditions Covered by the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act
The Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act covers the ADA and the subsequent ADAAA guidelines.
This category is less clear about which accommodations are available, but the ADA and ADAAA rules that examination givers, like the ABP, absolutely must comply with are provided by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
The EEOC is a federal commission that ensures equal employment. To get a broader picture of the accommodations which are available to you under the ADA and ADAAA, we recommend reviewing the complete guidelines from the EEOC: Procedures For Providing Reasonable Accommodation For Individuals With Disabilities
While these guidelines are intended for employers, the ABP process is based on them. Always double-check the ABP policy to be sure, however the EEOC site can help you understand overall what accommodations are made in the workplace and how these may also apply to test-taking when it comes time for your pediatric board exam.
When Is the American Board of Pediatrics Accommodations Deadline?
Making sure you submit your request in time is so important that we put this topic before the steps for applying. Be sure to read the important note and information here before going on.
The ABP is very strict about when you must apply to receive the accommodations.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The American Pediatrics Board requires that you submit your request for test accommodations by “the final registration deadline for initial certification exams.”
The exact date varies from year to year, but for the final date to submit your application for test accommodations is usually in May on the last day of LATER REGISTRATION.
You should take into consideration that any neuropsychological or medical testing which is required to validate your specific needs for test accommodations must be completed prior to your application submission.
Check the ABP site for the exact registration and exam dates for this year.
For the ABP Maintenance of Certification (MOC) exam, the ABP states that requests for test accommodations “must be at least 8 weeks prior to the test date.” All other exams from the ABP require you to submit your request by the registration deadline.
We suggest you submit any request for accommodation around the time of registration to be sure your accommodation is approved for the exam.
You may need to schedule an appointment with your specialist in January, or even in the year prior, to ensure you receive the documentation in time to include with your request for test accommodations.
How Do I Apply to Receive Test Accommodations from The American Pediatrics Board?
Step #1 – Check the fine print
In addition to reviewing the EEOC guidelines and the Prometric Pre Approved items list mentioned above, you should review The American Board of Pediatrics PDF: Policy and Procedures for Applicants with Disabilities. The ABP recommends sharing this document with any physician or specialist who will be certifying your need for a test accommodation.
Step #2 – Submit your request during the registration window and include your documentation
We recommend that you submit your request for test accommodations well ahead of the deadline to be sure that you meet the ABP deadline. Download and complete the Request Form for Test Accommodations and attach any documentation which certifies your need for a test accommodation. As a reminder, you should have all the documentation you need ready before submitting your application.
Step #3 – Schedule your exam
When you are approved for a test accommodation, you do not schedule your exam appointment online. Instead, you will receive an email from The American Board of Pediatrics with instructions on scheduling your test at one of the Prometric Testing Centers, which are all ADA compliant. The ABP and the Prometric Special Conditions group will work with you to determine the best accommodations for your needs.
Repeat Requests for Anyone Who Has Received Accommodations Previously
Please note that the instructions we provide above are for new requests. If you were granted a special accommodation during a prior attempt at the boards and you are now making a request for the same accommodations again, you should complete the Request Form for Test Accommodations – Repeat Request.
Even though you may be making the same request for accommodations again, the request must be submitted within the same timeframe as a new request, meaning prior to the last day of LATE REGISTRATION for the exam.
What Kind of Accommodations Have PBR Members Received?
I really wanted to give props to Ashish for letting me know about asking for those “test accommodations”. I never would have thought about it. I have lupus and when I took the exam last year (which I didn't pass ,obviously) i was just getting over an acute flare up and my hands were still swollen and painful, which made it difficult to use the mouse during the exam. I ended up running out of time and didn't get to answer the remaining 17 questions (out of a total of 200 questions).
I absolutely knew the material and after going thru the breakdown of my failing score, I am absolutely confident that if I had been able to finish the exam, I would've passed. So when I read Ashish's email about these test accommodations I immediately contacted my boards and explained my situation. Sure enough, they asked for a letter from my doc and which special accommodation I am requesting and they said it shouldn't be a problem. Stay tuned!!
– Dr. Todd Marcus, DO (Preparing for the Osteopathic Pediatric Boards)
Ashish… just want to let you know, I got approved for test accommodation with 2 day testing (extra time) and I can take my test in a separate room. 🙂
– Dr. FL, MD (Preparing for the Allopathic Pediatric Boards given by the ABP)
So our members have been given:
- Twice the amount of time to take the exam. That means the exam can be taken over two days instead packing the entire exam in one day.
- A separate, isolated area to take the exam without distractions.
- Extra time to allow breastfeeding mothers to pump
These are just a few of the accommodations that can be made.
The key point is that each situation is different, but in order to explore the possibilities you should get all of your paperwork together as soon as possible and make sure it is submitted by the deadline.
Maximizing Your Chances of Passing the Pediatric Board Exam
Passing the boards is about more than just knowing pediatric medicine. It’s about knowing the system.
Not everyone will qualify for the American Board of Pediatrics accommodations, but everyone can learn strategies to maximize their board experience.
In our Live Test-Taking Strategies Course, we spend a significant amount of time teaching you how to:
- Categorize all board-style questions into 1 of 3 categories
- Use custom algorithms to process each category of questions
- Understand how to increase your speed if you tend to run out of time, and how to decrease your speed if you are getting through the exam too fast
- Learn about the many different types of unexpected surprises that can happen during the day of your exam
- Learn how to manage stress, anxiety, diet and much more
- Learn strategies that allow you to be as focused at the end of your exam as you were at the beginning of the day
- Learn about the DISASTROUS SITUATIONS that pediatricians have encountered at Prometric testing sites, and how to avoid them
For example, did you know that the ABP Initial Certification exam is probably the longest exam that the Prometric centers have to deal with? That has implications! Imagine how you would feel if the center's cleaning crew was eager to go home, and decided to “quietly” enter your testing room when you are the last test-taker of the day to start cleaning up. What would you do!?!
You must have a plan to AVOID these types of issues, and must also have a plan to DEAL with these issues quickly and definitively when they come up.