College student biting a pencil while staring closely at a computer.

What to bring to the Disability Services Testing Center

Wondering what to bring with you to your exams? Here is a list of approved items to bring to the Disability Services Testing Center, from a student with low vision.

At my university, students who are registered with the Disability Services office have the option to take timed quizzes, tests, and exams in the Disability Services Testing Center so that they can receive accommodations such as the use of assistive technology, extended time, and untimed breaks. When I first started using the Disability Services Testing Center, I often brought an entire backpack worth of items from my dorm because I had no idea what I would need for each of my exams, but since I’ve become more familiar with the tools that are available to me, I’ve started bringing only a purse or a few small items that fit in a jacket pocket. Here is a list of items that students should bring to the Disability Services Testing Center, and what items can be left at home or in the dorm.

What to bring

Student ID and government issued ID

For all exams at my school, the student must bring their student ID so the instructor can verify their identity and student number, and the same policy is in place at the testing center. For a couple of my classes, I have also been required to bring a government-issued ID card in addition to my student ID- since I don’t have a driver’s license, I use my state-issued ID card.

Colored pens

I use colored pens instead of pencils when taking my exams, since gray pencil lead on white paper provides very poor contrast.  I like to bring several colors with me, typically blue, pink, orange, green, and other bright colors.

Another thing I bring is four different colored highlighters for marking multiple choice questions. My pens of choice are Sharpie ultra fine pens/markers, as the rich colors provide great contrast against any color of paper.

Dry erase board/markers

When I first started taking exams in the testing center, I would bring scented markers to work out equations and take notes, but discovered that scented markers could be an allergy trigger for other students. Later on, I started using a dry erase board and dry erase markers as an additional surface for working on math problems and taking notes on code, and I would re-write a neater copy of my equations and thought process on the exam itself. The dry-erase surface is a better option for me when sorting through my thoughts because I can erase and rewrite things just like if I was using a pencil.

Cardstock paper

When working with pens and markers, it’s easy to have ink bleed through to the other side of paper.  I request that my test be printed on single-side paper. I use cardstock paper, sized 8.5″ x 11″, in order to do scratch work. If cardstock is not available, I just put an additional piece of paper between my paper and the desk.  I attach all of the materials that I wrote on at the end of the exam and number the pages, writing my name at the top so the pages stay in order.


While the disability services testing center provides these for students to use, I like to bring my own pair of comfortable earplugs that help cancel out random noises outside.  The pair I use feels very similar to earbuds/headphones without wires.

Personal iPad

Personal devices are not typically permitted in the Disability Services Testing Center, unless a student is using an approved application with Guided Access enabled, which prevents the user from exiting an application or accessing unauthorized features. The most common reason I used my iPad in the testing center was to get an accessible calculator app.

A note on white noise

For those who like having a small amount of noise, many testing centers provide white noise machines by request for students. They can be requested when signing in to take the exam. Another friend at a different college told me that they were able to request classical music during their exam that was played on a university-provided CD player.

Professor contact info

I bring a small index card to each exam with my professor’s name, email, office location, and phone number. I get this information from either the syllabus, school database, or from the professor directly.  The index card also has my name, student ID number, class name, and class section.  This has come in handy many times when the test wasn’t in its correct location, or the proctor had to call the teacher for further instructions.

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What not to bring

Cell phone

Cell phones can be stored in a locker at the Disability Services Testing Center, though I typically will leave my phone in my dorm since my dorm was a short distance from the testing center. Students who need to have their cell phone with them for medical reasons (such as for continuous glucose monitoring) can get an approved accommodation to keep their phone with them.


Backpacks, purses, and other bags will also need to be stored in a locker, though I try not to bring these during finals or midterms since students have to stand in line to get their items back and I would rather leave the testing center as soon as possible.

Pencil pouches

One time, I organized everything nicely in a pencil pouch to bring to the testing center.  For security reasons, it all had to be dumped into a clear plastic bag once I got to my exam.  It’s okay to bring these to exams, but don’t expect that you will be allowed to keep it with you in the testing center.

Portable CCTVs

I have been advised not to bring my own portable CCTVs/video magnifiers. This is because some of the devices can store screenshots of the exam.  The testing center provides their own assistive technology devices for students to use. I made a note in my file that I prefer to use the Onyx CCTVs when testing because the older models can have issues with flickering, which is not good for someone that has photosensitivity.

Personal computers

While it makes sense to take an exam on a familiar device, personal technology is not permitted in the testing center.  My recommendation is to write down all of the common settings used and show it to the testing coordinator. They can enable those settings on a testing computer if needed.

The university assistive technology department allows students to carry a flash drive that contains the settings they use for common accessibility software. I commonly see this for NVDA, JAWS, and ZoomText. Students can plug the flash drive into any computer with the software and have the settings that they need.

Related links

By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes,

Updated October 2023; original post published ay 2017.

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