Disabilities and Health-related Needs
Select an option below for more information
The following guidelines outline the responsibilities of a scribe for a test taker with a disability. If you have any questions, please contact Disability Services. Only test administration staff may be assigned to serve as a scribe for a test taker.
Sometimes a test taker, because of his or her disability, has trouble speaking clearly or distinctly. The scribe should confirm the test taker's response. If the scribe can’t understand a test taker's speech, or it is barely audible, large cards, each indicating one of the four or five test options, can be used. The test taker can then choose the appropriate card.
Test takers with disabilities must be given the same opportunity as other test takers to plan, draft and revise their essays or constructed responses. This means that the scribe may write down an outline or other plan as directed by the test taker. The scribe must write down the words of the test taker exactly as dictated. When the essay or constructed response is finished, if time permits, the test taker may read the essay or response and dictate revisions. If the test taker's disability prevents them from reading the essay or constructed response, the scribe may read it aloud and allow the test taker to dictate revisions.
The scribe's responsibility is to be both accurate and fair, neither diminishing the fluency of the test taker nor helping to improve or alter what the test taker asks to be recorded.
The scribe's role includes the following considerations:
Because good essay and constructed-response writing demands fluency, the scribe's job is to record the test taker's production accurately without making the task even more complicated. Clearly, a well-educated scribe could improve the mechanics (spelling, capitalization and punctuation) of a weak essay or response. On the other hand, even a capable scribe who had to spell out every word would begin to sound stilted. The scribe's responsibility, therefore, is to strike a balance.
Test takers must:
Test takers, after indicating that they know to start a sentence with a capital letter and end with a period, or to capitalize the letter "I" when referring to themselves, do not have to continue to specify these conventions throughout. The scribe should apply these automatically.
The essay or response must be written in longhand or typed, as approved by the testing program. The test taker should have an opportunity to review and revise the essay or response providing the time allotted has not expired. Cross-outs and insertions are allowed and are not penalized, as for all test takers. Persons who score the essays or constructed responses will not be informed that any testing accommodations were allowed.
The scribe will have to make many decisions about how to proceed in situations that are not described above. The guiding principle in making these decisions should be that the process should neither help nor penalize the test taker.
The test center administrator may also stop the test and dismiss the test taker if they believe that the scribe has provided the test taker with any unfair advantage. In such instances, ETS reserves the right to cancel the test taker's score.