CollectionsDiscussionsMy LINCSHot SitesAmerica's Literacy DirectoryHomeSite MapSearch Search
Understanding LD drop down menu Assessment drop down menu Planning drop down menu Teaching and Learning drop down menu Training drop down menu
Diagnosis - How do you get tested for LD?

Change background color

Assessment for Adults with LD
Advantages and Disadvantages of Getting a Diagnosis
Sources of Diagnostic Services
What does the Diagnostic Test assess?
Who can perform Diagnostic Testing?
The Referral Process for Accommodations for the GED: L-15

Assessment for Adults with LD
This article by Dr. Kathleen Ross-Kidder of George Washington University discusses key questions about diagnosis for learning disabilities.

  • Who diagnoses?What is involved in the process?How can I afford cost of diagnosis?
  • What information do I need after diagnosis is complete?

Advantages and Disadvantages of Getting a Diagnosis
There are advantages and disadvantages to being officially diagnosed with a learning disability. The practitioner should review both sides of the issue with the learner before proceeding. Whether screening results indicate the possible presence of learning disabilities, or the adult requests that a diagnostic evaluation be conducted, the learner needs to understand the possible consequences of an official diagnosis.


  • Access to legal accommodations and protection
    The learner can obtain accommodations and protections necessary for success in instructional, work, and testing settings (e.g., entrance tests to postsecondary institutions, certification or licensure testing, or GED testing). Click here for information on legal issues related to LD, found on Florida's Bridges to Practice online course.
  • Source of emotional support.
    It can be a comfort and relief to know the basis of learning or performance problems
  • Guide for making instructional and/or accommodation plans.
    It helps to understand learning disabilities and determine the best ways to address them.


  • Cost can be prohibitive.
    See Sources of Diagnostic Services below.
  • Diagnosis may not be worth the effort and resources required because it yields few positive consequences for the learner. In some literacy programs, an LD diagnosis may not change the services the adult receives in the literacy program; thus, the diagnosis may not have an impact on the learner's personal or work life. Literacy programs often can help the learner meet with success by making instructional adaptations, even though there is not a documented learning disability.
  • Sources of Diagnostic Services
    Referrals for diagnostic evaluation can yield valuable results if the right professionals and agencies are involved. Not all persons who are licensed to conduct the testing have sufficient information about adults with learning disabilities to make a diagnosis. You should inquire about the evaluator's experience in the diagnosis of adults with LD before referring the learner for diagnosis.Making a good referral requires knowledge of the community's resources.
    • If the learner is under age 22, the schools have an obligation to evaluate persons with suspected LD.
    • Vocational Rehabilitation may be willing to accept a referral and conduct an evaluation for LD.

    Click here for possible solutions to cost in 'How can I afford testing?', part of the article by Dr. Kathleen Ross-Kidder on Assessment for Adults with LD.

What does the Diagnostic Test Assess?
In How to Read, Understand and Use Psychoeducational Reports
Dr. Sherry Mee Bell,The University of Tennessee, explains. Psychoeducational assessment provides estimates of the client's intellectual, or cognitive, abilities and educational achievement levels. It also yields recommendations relevant for educational planning. Sources of assessment data include background information, educational history and records and data from tests of intelligence and educational achievement, and, at times, ratings tests of attention, behavior/emotions and adaptive behavior. Psychoeducational assessment is designed to answer these questions:

  • Does the client have a learning disability(ies)? Mental retardation? Attentional problems?What are the client's academic and cognitive abilities, strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are appropriate educational recommendations? Accommodations?

While learning, not emotional problems, is the focus of psychoeducational assessment, behavior/emotional and medical issues may need to be addressed in psychoeducational assessment. Compiling, integrating, and analyzing all assessment data yields educational and other relevant recommendations.Though the formats of psychoeducational reports vary, most assessments include certain basic components. A psychoeducational report is a type of psychological report that focuses on assessment and interpretation of educationally related psychological tests and educational tests, including tests of intelligence and cognitive abilities, achievement tests, and tests of behavior and attention.

Who can Perform Diagnostic Testing?
A professional must be licensed to administer diagnostic testing for LD. Click here for a helpful overview, "Who can diagnose LD and/or ADHD?" in Ross-Kidder's article, Assessment for Adults with LD. In "How to Read, Understand and Use Psychoeducational Reports", Dr. Bell explains the particular training of school psychologists and educational psychologists.

While psychologists and psychological examiners in most specialty areas of psychology have some training in assessment, persons with training in school psychology typically receive extensive training in educationally relevant assessment and in relating assessment to instruction.

In selecting psychologists or other professionals to perform assessment, it is important to ascertain if the professional has specific training and expertise in psychoeducational assessment, particularly assessment of learning disabilities and other learning-related disorders.

The Referral Process for Accommodations for the GED
If you have a documented (diagnosed) Learning Disability, Attention-Deficit / Hyperactive Disorder, or both, you may qualify for GED test accommodations.

How does a person with LD get accommodations on the GED?
The process has several steps.

  1. Complete Form L-15: Accommodation Request for Learning Disabilities and/or Attention-Deficit / Hyperactive Disorder (available from the Chief Examiner at local GED Testing Centers.) This form documents the need for accommodations.GED candidates sometimes need help in completing the steps involved to apply for accommodations on the GED Tests. An Advocate can help. This person is someone who works on your behalf. It can be a teacher, counselor, social worker, or someone you trust who understands the information required on Form L-15. If you already have documentation of LD or ADHD, you may be able to use that documentation (for example, from your school records) to request accommodations on the GED. If the documentation is fairly recent, new testing may not be required.If you do not have documentation but have reason to think you may have LD, you will need to arrange a psychological evaluation for possible LD. Take Form L-15 with you to the evaluation because the psychologist must complete important portions on the form. If you do have LD, the psychologist will describe how it affects your learning and recommend certain accommodations that will allow you to show the knowledge you have. These may include:

    • Large print with extended time
    • Extended time( e.g., 1 ½ X )
    • Audiocassette
    • Scribe
    • Calculator
    • Private room
    • Supervised Breaks

  2. Send or take the completed L-15 to the GED Testing Center where you plan to take the GED.

  3. The Chief Examiner will check to make sure it's complete. If it is, she or he will sign it and send it for approval.

  4. When the approval comes back, the GED Testing Center will notify you and set a date for you to take the GED.

  5. You take the test with the accommodations.

How do you find someone to do the Diagnostic Testing?
As an adult it can be difficult to find affordable testing.

Click here for Sources of Diagnostic Services.

Click here for information on "Who can Perform Diagnostic Testing?

Search the LD collection
  Literacy Resources for
  Quick Reference

Center for Literacy Studies
600 Henley Street, Suite 312
Knoxville, TN 37996
Tel: 865-974-4109
Fax: 865-974-3857
Copyright 1998-2003

Contact Us