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5 things you should know before requesting ACT/SAT test accommodations

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Contrary to intuition, testing accommodations (like extended test time, extra breaks, braille, etc.) through 504 plans and IEPs are not automatically granted for SAT and ACT tests. Instead, what you have before you is another arduous journey, filled with paperwork (as well as a very helpful blog post) before the testing committee will grant you permission to take your test with some modifications.


6 things you should know ABOUT SAT/ACT ACCOMMODATIONS

Unless your child is a senior in high school, the College Board will not grant any accommodations to students with temporary (less than a year) disabilities, such as broken arms, feet, concussions, etc. Instead, they explain that they will reschedule the test until the student is healed (and that includes AP tests). Any accommodations to people with temporary disabilities and may even reschedule a student's AP exams.

Getting accommodations for the tests are hard. And they don't sugar coat it on their website either:

Instead, your 504 or IEP will be a jumping-off point to use. However, your documentation will need to describe, in detail, how a timed test taken in a controlled environment is impacted by your child's functional limitation.

For example, a student with a low processing speed will need to prove precisely how timed conditions impact their academic ability (with valid psycho-educational tests taken within 3-5 years).

4. Figure out if SAT or ACT accommodations fit you better.

A hugely important factor that might make the ACT a better choice for your child than the SAT is that the ACT has two different types of accommodations: Special Testing vs. National Testing (click here to understand the difference).

If your child struggles with prolonged focus, as our students with ADHD often do, extended time may actually be a huge detriment.

In such cases, it can be wise to request the ACT's Special Testing instead of National Testing because it allows the student to spread the test out over several days, taking only one section per day. No extra time is allotted, but the length of time the student has to focus on is so much shorter, which can be a tremendous asset for students who struggle with an attention deficit.

3. Beef up your documentation.

In many cases, assessments, tests, and recommendations should be within 5 years (SAT) or 3 years (ACT) from the date you submit your request. They also highly suggest that you have a few recent statements from teachers describing how your child is impacted by their disability. For access to these forms, click below:

2. Submit your request through your school.

Both the College Board and the ACT highly recommend that families submit their proposals for accommodations with their school's designated "SSD." And while letting go may be hard for parents, the SSD official has a myriad perks that parents alone are prohibited to access. However, if you want to go Han Solo, you will need to fill out a form on paper and mail it out (be warned - the College Board is guaranteed to request documentation on every little thing).


When it comes to processing requests, the ACT definitely wins at a timeline of 14 days (in comparison to the SAT's 7 weeks). However, that's IF everything goes splendidly (without any requests from them for additional documentation, etc). If they request additional materials (8 out of 10 times) you may be facing an additional 7-week waiting period. This infuriating process is why the College Board recommends - I kid you not - that you start the process of submitting your request during their FRESHMAN YEAR of high school.

As always, there are million-and-1 caveats to these four essential points, so I highly recommend that you check out the official website for more details.

On a positive note, many of our students have found success even when requesting accommodations end of their junior year, and were able to take their test with accommodations in their senior year. It's not easy, but persistence is key.

Ok - that's it for now.

Ciao ciao, bye-bye, and good luck!


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