January 6, 2020

Cassidy Seeks Answers from Medical Colleges About Low Rate of Accommodations Granted on MCAT

WASHINGTONU.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) recently wrote a letter to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) questioning why so few students with disabilities receive accommodations when taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).   

Students with disabilities are eligible for reasonable accommodations when taking exams, including the MCAT, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Depending on the disability, accommodations can include extra time on an exam or the use of assistive technologies such as text-to-speech. 

The Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act estimates that about 14 percent of K-12 students have a disability; however, only 0.3 percent of all test takers receive an accommodation for the MCAT. Cassidy is questioning the AAMC about the disparity and whether all students entitled to accommodations are actually receiving them. In his letter, Cassidy cites Americans with dyslexia as an example to highlight a potential lack in adequate MCAT accommodations.

“If 20% of Americans have dyslexia and individuals with dyslexia benefit academically from appropriate accommodations, deductive reasoning tells us that, with only .3% of MCAT exam takers receiving an accommodation for the MCAT, it is likely that thousands of individuals with dyslexia who take the MCAT are not receiving the accommodations they are entitled to under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act,” wrote Dr. Cassidy. “Dyslexia is one example and it begs the question – how many students with disabilities are not getting the accommodations they are entitled to receive?”

Read the letter here.