Instructions for Filing Petition for
Non-Standard Testing Conditions
on the Connecticut Bar Examination
I. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as Amended (ADA). The ADA and applicable regulations define a person with a disability as someone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The Connecticut Bar Examining Committee (Committee) provides reasonable and necessary test accommodations to applicants who are qualified to take the bar examination and who are disabled under the ADA and relevant regulations and case law.
II. The Purpose of Test Accommodations. The purpose of test accommodations is to provide equal access to the bar examination. Test accommodations are adjustments or modifications to the standard testing conditions which alleviate the impact of the applicant's impairment on the examination process without: fundamentally altering the nature of the examination; imposing an undue administrative or financial burden on the Committee; compromising the security, validity or reliability of the examination; or providing an unfair advantage to the applicant with the disability. Test accommodations must be reasonable, consistent with the nature and purpose of the examination, and necessitated by the applicant's disability. While the use of accommodations on the bar examination should enable applicants to better demonstrate their knowledge mastery, test accommodations are not a guarantee of improved performance, test completion or a passing score.
III. Applicant’s Burden of Proof under the ADA. The burden of proof is on the applicant to establish a disability as defined by the ADA and to establish the need for test accommodations. Requests for test accommodations are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Applicants are required to complete the petition in accordance with the instructions provided. The documentation necessary to support a request for test accommodations varies with the nature of the disability. Documentation which sufficed in other testing situations may not be sufficient to support a request for accommodations on the Connecticut bar examination.
IV. Who Should Complete a Petition for Test Accommodations? Petitions for test accommodations should be completed only by those individuals with disabilities under the ADA who require test accommodations on the bar examination. The following individuals must timely submit a petition: all applicants requesting test accommodations on the bar examination for the first time; applicants who were denied accommodations on a prior examination; applicants for re-examination who did not previously request accommodations; and applicants who were granted accommodations in the past but who have not taken the examination in the last three (3) years.
Applicants who previously requested and were granted accommodations by the Committee, may file a Form 15 in lieu of a petition with supporting documentation provided the applicant sat for the Connecticut Bar Examination within the preceding three years and (1) is requesting the same accommodations that were received previously on the Connecticut Bar Examination and (2) has had no material changes in his/her condition. However, an update to prior medical documentation is required assessing the applicant’s current functional limitations and ongoing need for accommodations if the nature of the applicant’s disability or disabilities is changeable. A petition with new supporting documentation is required if there is any change in the accommodations requested. The Committee reserves the right to request an update to prior documentation in all cases if it determines that the prior documentation is insufficient to establish the applicant’s current level of impairment and need for accommodations.
V. Who does NOT need to Complete a Petition for Test Accommodations?
B. Laptop Computer. All applicants are allowed to participate in the Committee’s laptop program, regardless of disability. Applicants who seek only the use of a laptop computer do not need to complete a paper ADA petition. Such applicants must register for the laptop program. Applicants who are requesting the use of a laptop computer and any other accommodation (i.e. additional testing time) must register for the laptop program and file a paper petition for test accommodations. Spelling and grammar are not graded on the examination, and the software does not come with spell check or grammar check.
C. Administrative Accommodations.
B. Deadline. The bar examination is held each year during the last week of February and during the last week of July. The original signed petition for test accommodations or Form 15 with all required supporting documentation must be filed by the close of the application filing period that applies for the general bar examination. The following deadlines apply:
Petitions are deemed filed as of the day they are received in the Committee’s office. Please note this is NOT a “postmarked by” deadline. To be timely, the original signed petition must be received in the Committee’s office by the application filing deadline. If the general application deadline falls on a holiday or weekend, the petition must be received by the next business day following the deadline. The Committee’s office is not open on weekends or holidays and does not receive mail on these days.
C. Address. A completed petition for test accommodations together with all required supporting documentation must be mailed to:
Connecticut Bar Examining Committee
D. Late Petitions. It is the applicant’s obligation to ensure that the petition is timely received by the Committee. Candidates should keep a copy of the completed petition and all documentation that is submitted to the Committee for their own records. The Committee will consider only those petitions for test accommodations that are timely filed. Petitions that are untimely shall be administratively rejected.
E. Incomplete Petitions. The Committee will consider only those petitions for test accommodations that are complete. To be complete, each and every question must be answered on the petition and all required supporting documentation must be submitted. Please note that some supporting documentation must be obtained from third parties. Care must be taken to plan ahead so that all documentation is available as of the filing deadline. You must complete the checklist found on the last page of the petition before submitting your petition to demonstrate that you have submitted a complete petition. Petitions received before the filing deadline will be reviewed. Petitions that are incomplete shall be administratively rejected.
F. Early Petitions. A request for test accommodations may be made as early as six months prior to the date of the examination. Applicants are encouraged to send in petitions as soon as they know they will be requesting accommodations.
G. Concurrent Bar Examinations. For security reasons, if you are planning to sit for the bar examination in two jurisdictions and are requesting accommodations, you must be certain that you can sit for the MEE and MPT in Connecticut on Tuesday when they are administered nationally and, if you are sitting for the MBE in Connecticut, that you can sit for it on Wednesday, when the MBE is administered nationally.
VII. Submitting a Complete Request
IMPORTANT NOTE: Some of the forms that must be submitted with your request must be completed by third parties and returned to you for submission to the CBEC. Make certain that you request completion of these forms by the third parties in a timely manner so that you are able to submit your request by the deadline.
B. Petitions for Test Accommodations. Complete and sign NST Form 1: Petition for Test Accommodations. Attach all relevant forms and documents, as indicated below, so that all required documentation is provided in one submission.
C. Disability Verification Forms. Have a qualified professional complete the applicable disability verification form(s) and return it to you for submission to the Committee. There are separate forms for learning disabilities, AD/HD, psychological disabilities, visual disabilities, and physical disabilities. You will need to complete the top portion of the applicable disability verification form and request that your qualified professional complete the rest of the form and return it to you. Your qualified professional should attach to the completed disability verification form a comprehensive evaluation report and/or relevant records, as specified in the form.
D. Documentation verifying your history of accommodations requests. Gather verifying documentation of your history of accommodations requests, if any. Submit an NST Form 7: Certification of Accommodations History completed by each educational institution or testing agency (hereinafter “entity”) from which you requested accommodations, whether your request was granted or denied. Complete the top portion of the form and request that the entity complete the rest of the form and return it to you for submission to the Committee. Alternatively, you may provide other proof of your accommodations history, such as a copy of the letter(s) you received from the entity notifying you of the specific accommodations granted or denied. The proof should identify the time frame (e.g., third year of law school) and the nature of the disability (e.g., AD/HD) for which any accommodations were granted or denied. If you received accommodations as a result of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Plan, please provide copies of all IEPs or 504 Plans.
E. Transcripts. Learning disabilities and AD/HD are developmental disorders with childhood onset, even if not diagnosed until adulthood. Transcripts or report cards of your elementary, middle school, and high school education, while not required, are useful in providing evidence of symptoms and impairment present during childhood. The CBEC reserves the right to request such academic records in particular cases.
F. Authorization and Release. The authorization and release form must be signed and notarized.
VIII. Review Process for Petitions for Test Accommodations
B. Determinations. All complete and timely petitions for test accommodations will be acted on as soon as is practicable. For the February examination, determination letters will generally be available by the first week of February; for the July examination, determination letters will generally be available by the first week in July. The determination letter will be sent via regular US mail to the address provided on the test accommodations petition. It is the applicant’s responsibility to keep the Board apprised of changes of address. If the petition is granted, the determination letter will detail the specific accommodations awarded and will include an agreement which must be signed and returned to accept the terms of the accommodations. If the petition is denied, the determination letter will describe the reason(s) for the denial and the appeal process.
C. Appeals. Applicants may appeal the decision of the reviewing officer to a Panel comprise of three members of the Non-Standard Testing Subcommittee. The appeal must be filed within ten days of receipt of the Notice of Decision and Decision of Hearing Officer by the applicant. The appeal will be conducted on the basis of the documentation that the applicant already submitted and the applicant’s written argument in support of the appeal. An appeal is not a substitute for an incomplete petition as the Panel shall not consider on appeal new material that was not included in the original petition. All documents which support the request for accommodations should be filed with the original petition. The Panel will affirm, reverse or modify the original decision of the reviewing officer and will advise the applicant in writing of its decision.
D. Other Eligibility Requirements. Applicants for test accommodations must meet all eligibility requirements for the bar examination. These include: timely applying for the bar examination; paying the appropriate fee; meeting all legal education requirements; and timely providing the appropriate supporting proofs in support of your bar examination application (i.e. Certificate of Law School Attendance or transcript(s), handwriting sample). Questions concerning these other eligibility requirements should be addressed to the Committee’s main office.