It's Important to Perform How You Practice

One of my favorite mantras in life is, “It is important to finish what I start.” I use that phrase literally and figuratively in all aspects of my life, whether finishing my food or finishing a task I start.

On July 11, 2023, I sat for my Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) exam. For those not familiar with this exam, it is an exam required to obtain the highest level of licensure in the social work field. The exam is 170 questions, and the test-taker is allotted 4 hours to complete the exam on a standard size computer at a designated and approved testing site.

Preparing for my LCSW exam

Leading up to the exam, I had so many feelings. I was so nervous because I had not taken an exam in 7 years, and I have been out of school for 10 years. In preparation for the exam, I studied with my friend, Lauryn, 2 days a week and I listened to YouTube videos on my own time to help me study.

On the day of the exam, I ate a well-balanced breakfast: 2 boiled eggs, trail mix, and a Naked smoothie. I spoke to my favorite people and did my mantras in my head. I did everything I needed to prepare for the exam. While nervous, I still felt confident.

Trouble completing the exam on a computer

However, that feeling of confidence quickly became disrupted when I sat down at the computer. I realized that the zoom-in feature I typically use on every computer did not work.

I raised my hand frantically and asked the person proctoring the exam how to zoom in, to which she responded, “Sweetie, you are supposed to request accommodations before the exam.” I explained that the zoom-in feature is typically standard on every computer and, therefore, I did not realize that feature was considered an accommodation.

After some time, she was able to zoom in for me; unfortunately, it was much different than what I was used to navigating.

Confronting barriers to accommodation in testing

As a result, I became nervous, and my eyes became tired halfway through the exam. I found myself looking at the time clock and number of questions constantly, but I managed to finish the exam in 3 hours and 45 minutes.

At the end of the exam, the proctor came up to me, shaking her head. Again, she asked me, “Why didn’t you request accommodations?” I re-explained I had completed a similar test 7 years prior without accommodation. She told me, “Next time you take the exam — and there will be a next time — make sure you request the accommodations.”

As she went on to inform me of the accommodation I qualify for, my heart sank with the realization I had not passed the exam. I had gotten 92 questions right, but I needed to get 103 correct to pass.

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Special circumstances require special accommodations

Once I learned that I didn’t pass the exam, I instantly went into the bathroom and began to cry. I feel like my tears and sadness were less about not passing the exam, and more about how my Stargardt disease had limited me in that moment.

My friends and family quickly reminded me that I essentially took the exam with one hand tied behind my back because I did not have the accommodations that I need to succeed. I had to remind myself that sometimes special circumstances require special accommodations and that, with them, I can still finish what I started. At least that’s the way eye see it.

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