Students with documented learning disabilities are eligible for accommodations on the College Board (SAT) and ACT exams. These accommodations include varying increments of extended time, the use of a laptop or computer for essay writing, booklets with larger print for students with visual impairments, and small group testing for students who have issues with distractibility or anxiety.
The procedure to qualify for extended time requires following processes for both the College Board (SAT) and ACT. These processes are different for each test.
In order for a student to become eligible to receive extended time on the SAT, their request for accommodations must be approved by Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD).
- Student has a documented disability
- Participation in a College Board exam is impacted
- Requested accommodation is needed
- Accommodation is received on school tests
- The diagnosed condition substantially limits one or more major life activities.
- Requests for accommodations are appropriate and reasonable for documented disability.
Assuming that the student meets these criteria, the next stage is to begin to gather documentation to submit to SSD or ACT’s online accommodations request system.
Students will likely receive accommodations for the SAT and ACT if the disability is substantiated by a professional evaluator and there is a school generated plan such as an Individualized Education Program (IEP), 504 plan, or Response to Intervention (RTI) plan. Students will need documentation from a neuropsychologist, school official, or private evaluator with a formal diagnoses and accommodations that the school has implemented. The results of the testing are typically obtained and organized at the student’s local school district.
The next stage of eligibility process is for the student to submit their request for accommodations.
College Board exams require students seeking accommodations to submit a Student Eligibility Form (SEF). The SEF is a document describing the student’s disability, the desired accommodation, and a summary of documentation gathered at the student’s school. The SEF can be submitted independently, but the College Board prefers that it is prepared online with the assistance of an SSD Coordinator. An SSD Coordinator is a designee from the school responsible for helping students with disabilities become eligible to gain additional time on the College Board exams. Once the SEF and subsequent documentation from the school have been submitted, students should receive a response from the College Board within 1-5 weeks.
The ACT has separate requirements for submitting a request. Students are required to request accommodations in the Test Accessibility and Accommodations (TAA) System. The TAA is an online system used to submit an accommodations request for additional testing time on the ACT. Students must use a Test Accommodations Coordinator (TAC) to help prepare the request. A TAC is a designee from the school who will be able to help students become eligible for additional time for testing on the ACT. Students should receive a response from the ACT within 6 weeks.
If your request is approved there are two types of accommodations for students:
- National Extended Time – The appropriate classification for students requiring no more than 50% extended time on standardized tests.
- Special Testing – A classification for students whose disability is not suited for National Extended Time and requires more than time and a half.
If your request for accommodations has been denied your child may be required to undergo additional testing or more specific evidence from an evaluator may be needed to permit the denied accommodation(s). It’s also possible that a student could be approved for some sections of the test but not others.
The ACT and SAT tests are crucial exams that at least partially determine your child’s future because colleges look closely at ACT and SAT scores as they decide which students to accept.
However, standardized testing isn’t an accurate assessment of all students’ potential, particularly for those with learning disorders. Even when individuals excel in other areas, they might struggle to simply sit through a long test, which means their score won’t reflect the depth of their knowledge and abilities.
Fortunately, if this describes your child’s situation, they might qualify for AP, SAT, and ACT test accommodations. If you live anywhere in the Chicago area, including Arlington Heights, IL, visit NeuroHealth Arlington Heights to learn how we can help your child acquire these necessary accommodations.
Understanding AP, ACT, and SAT Test Accommodations
AP, ACT, and SAT tests are all administered by the College Board. The Board requires extensive documentation before they’ll consent to any accommodations, and they require you to submit requests for these accommodations at least seven weeks before the test is administered. The Board will use that time to go through your child’s records and determine if he or she is eligible.
If your child already has an IEP or 504 plan, it’s much easier to request ACT, SAT, or AP test accommodations. In this case, the student has a diagnosis, and the school should have a detailed, well-documented record of how this student’s needs have been accommodated in the past.
Documentation such as this is vital because, without it, the College Board testing committee will likely decline your child’s request for reasonable accommodations. If you think your student has an undiagnosed learning disorder, visit a specialist sooner rather than later.
Furthermore, students must request accommodations at the same time they register for an ACT or SAT test, and the parent and school have to submit requests within a certain timeframe as well. The earlier in your student’s high school career you act, the more likely it is that the College Board will agree to make AP, ACT, or SAT test accommodations.
Learning More About Specific Types of Accommodations
The accommodations the College Board provides for your student depend in large part on the learning disorder and previous accommodations the school has issued for the child. Some accommodations may include giving students extra time to complete exams or providing a reader who can read the test questions out loud and then record your student’s answers.
At NeuroHealth Arlington Heights, we specialize in working with schools, parents, and teachers to find the right school accommodations for each student. If you want our help understanding accommodations or you think your child could have a learning disorder that keeps him or her from excelling in school, call us at (847) 754-9343 or email us using the form on our contact us page.
At NeuroHealth Arlington Heights, we specialize in working with schools, parents, and teachers to find the right school accommodations for each student. Dr. Laurie Phillips Ph.D. is a highly-respected leader in the field. Dr. Phillips acts as an independent advocate consulting on behalf of disabled students at numerous schools throughout the country.
NeuroHealth assesses students and diagnoses these learning disorders that might keep your child from meeting his or her full potential at school:
- Learning Disabilities
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Psychiatric Disorders (Mood or Anxiety Disorders or Serious and Persistent Mental Illness)
- Visual Impairment
- Hearing Impairment
- Autism, Asperger’s Disorder, Pervasive Development Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Speech and Language Disorders
- Medical Conditions
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Physical/Medical Disabilities
- Tic Disorders/Tourette’s
National Extended Time – The appropriate classification for students requiring no more than 50% extended time on standardized tests.
Special Testing – A classification for students whose disability is not suited for National Extended Time and requires more than time and a half.
College Board – A not-for-profit organization most notable for administering the SAT, PSAT, and AP exams.
Individualized Education Program (IEP) – A program for students who have been evaluated and determined to be eligible for special education services. Students in an IEP receive additional resources and support to ensure they have an equal opportunity concerning educational curriculum.
504 Plan – A plan that lists the accommodations a school will provide, such as audiobooks, note-taking aids or extended time to complete tests, so that a student with a disability has equal access to the general education curriculum.
Response to Intervention (RTI) – Describes a multi-tier approach to supporting students with the identification and support of special education services.
Student Eligibility Form (SEF) – A form that must be submitted to the College Board in order to attain extended time on the SAT. The SEF is often prepared with the assistance of a SSD Coordinator (preferred by the College Board), but the SEF can be submitted independently.
SSD Coordinator – A designee from the school responsible for assisting students with learning disabilities become eligible to gain additional time on the SAT exam.
Test Accommodations Coordinator (TAC) – A designee from the school responsible for assisting students with learning disabilities become eligible for additional time for testing on the ACT.
Test Accessibility and Accommodations (TAA) System – An online system used to submit an accommodations request for additional testing time on the ACT.