We asked reps from both ACT, Inc., and The College Board to answer questions about accommodations for students with disabilities.
What disabilities require accommodations?
“Diagnosed learning disabilities and ADHD are the most common disabilities requesting special testing or accommodations,” says Dana Engelbert, communications associate for ACT. “The most requested accommodation is extended [test] time.” However, both tests accommodate many physical and psychological disorders.
“Last year, more than 67,000 students applied for disability testing,” says Steve Pereira, executive director of services for students with disabilities at The College Board. “Their requests run the full gamut—from extra time to having a reader or a scribe to taking the test in a room with a limited number of people. We do our best to accommodate all of the valid requests.”
How do you arrange special accommodations?
You and a school official must complete and sign a request for special testing, Engelbert says.
If your school does not have the forms, contact the ACT at (319) 331-1332 or The College Board at (609) 771-7137.
How long does the approval process take?
“[For the ACT,] the request, all documentation and remuneration must be received a minimum of four weeks before the proposed test date,” says Engelbert.
“We need a lead time of approximately seven weeks to arrange everything that the student requests [for the SAT],” says Pereira.
Both Engelbert and Pereira suggest that requests be submitted as soon as possible.
“One SAT approval will cover the PSAT and any SAT reasoning tests and SAT subject tests the student takes,” says Pereira.
If you plan on taking the ACT, check with your colleges of choice to see if any SAT subject tests are required. If so, you will need to apply for accommodation from both the ACT and The College Board.
What does the approval process involve?
“We review each request individually and take the process very seriously,” says Engelbert. “If we must deny a request, we want to ensure that a student has enough time for an appeal.”
Pereira agrees. “Sixty percent of all requests are approved after initial review. The remaining 40 percent require an outside review by a physician or one of our in-house staff of medical experts. Students may not be aware of all our accommodation options. In some cases, we may suggest more appropriate alternative accommodations.”
Is the disability information kept confidential?
According to Engelbert, “…Details about student test accommodations will be shared only with the testing staff and will not be released to anyone else. Scores are reported to colleges in exactly the same way [for each student].”
Pereira concurs. “Students who apply for special testing accommodations can be assured that all information stays within [The College Board]. Colleges only see their scores.”