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Student FAQ

A Learning Disability is a persistent condition of presumed neurological dysfunction in which an individual exhibits a significant discrepancy between intellectual ability and academic achievement despite regular instruction and educational opportunity. Symptoms may include poor: fluency, reading comprehension, listening comprehension, speaking, writing, math calculation or reasoning, memorization, concentration, retention, organization, information processing, problem solving, self monitoring, time management.

California Code - Title 5
(Division 6 Section 56036 Chapter 7 Subchapter 1) definition of Learning Disability

  • Average to above average intelligence
  • Severe difficulty in processing information
  • Substantial aptitude-achievement discrepancies
  • Measured achievement in an instructional or employment setting


Learning disabilities are often misunderstood, in large part because the disability is "hidden". Because the disability is essentially invisible, persons with a learning disability are often labeled as lazy, unmotivated, emotionally unstable or stupid. This labeling has often lead to failure in school and illiteracy that perpetuate vicious downward cycles of frustration and despair. If you notice that a person is taking an unusually long time to complete paperwork or any of the symptoms listed in this handout, it is recommended that you refer the students to the LD Specialist.

A Learning Disability is a permanent disorder which affects how individuals with normal or above average intelligence take in, process, retain, or express information. Learning disabilities are presumed to be a neurological dysfunction which continues even with instruction in standard classroom situations. The disability may exist with other disabling conditions. 

A learning disability is not below average ability.

All students may have difficulties learning or remembering information from time to time. Just because you have trouble in a class does not necessarily mean you are Learning Disabled. There are several alternatives explanations including but, not limited to: poor study habits, lack of educational opportunity, second language acquisition skill deficits, test, anxiety, head trauma, or history of substance abuse.

There are many characteristics that may signal a learning disability. These characteristics must be present over a long period of time that cannot be attributed to other explanations, you may have a learning disability. See also: list of common characteristics.

Yes, tutoring is free for all MSJC students.

Stop by the Learning Resource Center and visit the PALS Lab to speak with an Instructional Aide about the PALS program. You may also fill out the PALS Referral form to let us know which specific services you are interested in, and we will reach out to you with information about the Personalized Academic Learning Skills program. 

Yes, you do not need documentation to get tutoring from PALS. If you do have an IEP, 504 Plan or disability documentation please visit the Accommodation Service Center

You can get assessed for a Learning Disability (LD) with one of our LD Specialist. Please submit the PALS Referral form

Please check our PALS tutoring page to view tutoring hours.