Tests & standards

Does My Child Need to Be Evaluated to Qualify for SAT Test Accommodations?

By Whitney Hollins

My son is planning to take the SAT for college. Does he need to be formally evaluated to qualify for testing accommodations on the SAT?

Whitney Hollins

Adjunct Instructor, Hunter College

Yes, he does. To receive accommodations on the SAT or the ACT, your child needs to have a documented disability. It’s important to note, however, that getting a diagnosis will not automatically qualify him for accommodations.

An application for accommodations on the SAT has to be submitted to the College Board. This not-for-profit group is in charge of the SAT, PSAT and AP tests. The College Board says on its website that the majority of students who get accommodations at their school will be approved.

But the site also makes clear that proper documentation still needs to be submitted for these students. There are also deadlines for submitting applications so they can be reviewed and approved before the test date.

The College Board has a section on its site detailing its services for students with disabilities (SSD). Your child’s school can submit an SSD application for your child or you can submit it yourself.

The College Board lists seven guidelines for documentation. Your child’s application for accommodations on the SAT needs to include details on:

  • Your child’s specific disability, as diagnosed by someone with the appropriate credentials.
  • Current evaluation and diagnostic testing. In most cases, this means the tests need to have taken place within the past five years.
  • Your child’s educational, developmental and medical history.
  • The comprehensive testing and techniques used to arrive at the diagnosis, including test results with subtest scores.
  • Your child’s functional limitations, explaining how the disability affects his ability to participate in the test.
  • The specific accommodations being requested, such as the amount of extended time required or the maximum amount of time your child can be tested in a day.
  • The professional credentials of the evaluator, such as licensure, certification or area of specialization.

The ACT has its own set of documentation guidelines for requesting accommodations.

Taking the SAT or ACT is an important milestone in your child’s academic career. It’s understandable that you want your child to receive the proper accommodations in order to help him be successful on the test.

If you choose to have your child evaluated in order to receive accommodations on the SAT or ACT, keep in mind that it’s not an easy process. If the school district agrees to do the evaluation, the district has up to 60 days to complete it after you give consent. If you decide to pursue a private evaluation, this can take some time too.

Then you need to allow time for the testing organization to review your application. For example, once a complete application has been submitted to the College Board, the review process takes about seven weeks.

If the College Board requests more documentation, the process can take even longer. That’s why if you’re considering college testing accommodations, it’s best to start looking into it immediately. Ninth grade isn’t too early to begin planning for college.

About the Author

Portrait of Whitney Hollins

Whitney Hollins

Whitney Hollins is a special education teacher and adjunct instructor at Hunter College.

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