The ABA has taken strong exception with the way the Law School Admission Council handle’s requests by takers of the LSAT’s for special accommodations. The ABA passed a resolution asking the council to clarify its policies to people with disabilities; to inform applicants of its decisions in a shorter period of time; and to allow enough time for appeals of denials for accommodations. The ABA also took exception to the council’s practice of notifying law schools if an applicant has received extra time to complete the LSAT’s. The ABA cannot compel the council to take action but its resolution does carry some weight-at the very least by drawing attention to the issue.
The council did not agree with the ABA’s resolution, claiming that the ABA did not understand the factors the council takes into account whent determining whether to award an accommodation to a test taker. The council also claims that the ABA used old and inaccurate information that does not take into account the actual experience of test takers.
One law school professor who previously served on the council’s task force on disabilities disagreed with the ABA’s resolution and pointed out that several undergraduate universities bent over backwards to over-accommodate students. She also defended the council’s practice of notifying law schools if an applicant received extra time to complete the LSAT, asserting that it would not be fair to equate the test scores of someone who received extra time to complete the test to someone who did not.
Many test takers have sued the council in the past over denial for extra accommodations. A recent lawsuit involved a University of Pennsylvania student whose request for double the amount of time to take the LSAT was refused. He suffers from a learning disorder and ADHD. He claims that he always received accommodations in school, including extra time to take exams, a “reduced distraction test environment” and the availability of a note-taker. The student asked for one-and-a-half times the regular time to complete the test. His request was approved, but he was still unable to complete most of the LSAT and he received a low score. He subsequently asked for double the amount of time to take the test, but his request was refused for almost every section of the exam. He claimed discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act. In his lawsuit, he asked the court to compel the council to provide the extra accommodation.
Another example involved a suit for extra accommodations for someone claiming to suffer from a cognitive disorder resulting from a brain lesion that had been removed. The plaintiff had wanted extra time to complete the test and extra rest breaks. The council denied her request. The council later settled with the plaintiff by agreeing to allow her double the amount of time to complete the test after plaintiff submitted to a neuropsychological assessment which verified her claimed condition.
Approximately 2,000 people each year ask for extra accomodations on the LSAT’s and the council makes a decision on a case-by-case basis. Approximately half the requests are granted to some extent. Most of the time the extra accommodations involve a separate testing room, extra time to take the test and extra breaks between sections of the test.