Special Accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act is the most important and sweeping Civil Rights legislation to be enacted in many years. The California State Bar works hard to ensure that applicants with disabilities are accommodated properly when they sit for the California Bar Examination. Depending on the circumstances, some applicants are entitled to extra time, a private room, and other similar help. The State Bar will not grant accommodations without appropriate documentation.

One of the most difficult questions an applicant may have to think about is whether or not he or she might be suffering from an undiagnosed learning disability. Some people who are not learning disabled have a learning style that is working against them. Others are able to compensate for their disabilities by working harder than their classmates, but sometimes the bar examination is a hurdle that cannot be jumped just by working harder.

Self-Assessment Test

The diagnostic testing for learning disabilities is complicated and sometimes it’s also expensive. Still, it’s possible to explore the issue a bit without leaving this web page.  What follows is a compact self-assessment test that can give you a hint that this is an area you need to investigate further. It should take one to three minutes to complete (more if you are distracted or under a disability).

Directions: Answer Yes or No for each question:

  1. Have you had an injury in which you’ve lost consciousness for more than 30 seconds?
  2. Did you have any extra reading or spelling lessons during your first three grades in school?
  3. Did your parents or other caretakers refer to you as “difficult to control” or as never being able to pay attention?
  4. Do you have a parent, sibling or other close relative who has been diagnosed as learning diabled or dyslexic?
  5. Did you learn more than two languages at home during the first five years of your life?
  6. Did you get C grades in classes you felt you understood much better than the grade would suggest?
  7. Do you feel you know more than you can say?
  8. Do you believe that you can survive only in a classroom that allows you to speak rather than write?
  9. Do you feel you are about to “fly off the handle” when you attempt to study more than three hours at a time?
  10. Have you more than tripled your caffeine or sugar intake at times of stress or attempts at extended study?
  11. Can you think of more than four different answers to true and false questions when your classmates see only two answers?

The Bottom Line

Did you answer ‘yes’ to four or more of the questions? If so, you may have a learning style that works against you, or you may be working under a learning disability that prevents you from doing your best when you take examinations under conditions that do not take into account your individual needs.