Lab Accommodations

Most practical labs are universally designed as compared to traditional individually written, timed exams. Here are some key differences: 


  • Working with partner(s) who can share the work.  
  • Lab staff provide supervision and support/assistance/feedback.
  • Practical components often with instrumentation/equipment with some reading and writing.
  • Variable environments where students can take breaks, step out to eat something, use the washroom, etc. if they need.
  • CAL understands that well prepared students typically complete in about 2/3rds of the available time leaving enough time for most to finish without accommodation.  
  • Less anxiety provoking. 


  • Working alone without the support of anyone, having to do all components one’s self.
  • Exam invigilator provides supervision but very little assistance.
  • Mostly only reading and writing answers.
  • Secure, inflexible environment (students must sit and attend to the exam throughout) 
  • Strictly timed and majority of students take the entire time to complete
  • Naturally anxiety provoking.

Time accommodations in exams are typically provided to reduce barriers in cognitive, reading or writing fluency, and stamina (or need to take a break to deal with chronic medical issue). Barriers in these areas are magnified in an exam due to the heavy processing load required by reading /writing and memory recall. Extra time re-distributes that load.  

Why do some students have a specific extra time for labs accommodation?

Some students have a specific extra time accommodation for labs on their letter of academic accommodation.  Extra time to complete components of labs may be needed to reduce barriers in writing fluency, fine motor coordination for typing or writing or low vision. These students may take extra time to complete the required writing tasks and they may need to use a computer with assistive technology software to complete the written portions (i.e. to enlarge or read aloud text for a student with low vision).

Instructor responsibilities

Discuss completion of labs with your students who have this accommodation where the lab is required to be completed in a specific time period (i.e. within 3 hours).

Where a write-up-only portion of a lab could be completed at the CAL exam centre with extra time and invigilation, the student could book a seat through the online student services with at least two weeks advance notice like any other booking.  The instructor would then provide with the lab write-up details like any other test or exam.

Can CAL send staff to invigilate within the lab because specific curricular materials will be needed for completion? 

When an exam requires instrumentation/samples/or other equipment that cannot be provided in the CAL environment, departments provide the exam invigilation directly by their staff who are trained to work within lab environments and with knowledge of the materials/safety protocols, etc.