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  • Writer's pictureJesse Sherman

Accommodations for the SAT & PSAT

College Board offers a wide range of test accommodations for the SAT, PSAT, and AP Exams to students who need them. However, navigating this web of accommodations can be quite a challenge. To save you both time and sanity, we have compiled everything you may need to know into this guide.



What are test accommodations?


Test accommodations are special arrangements provided to students with disabilities or conditions that may impair their performance. They are intended to level the playing field during the exams. The idea is to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to show their true abilities, regardless of any challenges they might face. “Accommodations don’t alter the sections, order, or questions of College Board tests; they mostly influence the timing and testing environment.”


Available Accommodations

These are most (but not all) of the available accommodations:

  1. Timing and Scheduling Accommodations

    1. Extended time (such as time and one-half, or even double testing time)

    2. Breaks (more breaks, longer breaks, or both)

    3. Limited-time testing (testing over multiple days) may or may not include extra time

  2. Presentation Accommodations

    1. Human reader (who reads the entire test)

    2. Signing or orally presenting instructions

    3. Braille

  3. Response Accommodations

    1. Verbal responses dictated to scribe

    2. Assistive technology: Speech-to-text

  4. Setting Accommodations

    1. Small group setting

    2. Preferential seating

    3. Wheelchair accessibility

    4. School-based setting

    5. One-to-one setting

  5. Physical or Medical Accommodations

    1. Permission for food, drink, or medication

    2. Permission to test blood sugar: permits access to most diabetes testing supplies


Who is eligible for accommodations?

To be eligible for test accommodations, one must have a documented disability or condition recognized under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These disabilities may include learning disabilities, physical or medical impairments, attention disorders, or visual or hearing impairments, among others. For example:


  • Physical and medical disabilities such as (but not limited to):

    • Seizure disorders, cerebral palsy, diabetes, visual or hearing impairment

  • Learning disorders such as (but not limited to):

    • ADHD, dyslexia, or dysgraphia

  • Autism diagnoses based on DSM-IV



It's important to note that accommodations are not always made. Sometimes, accommodations are only made for a section and not the full test. College Board makes the decision to grant accommodations at its own discretion.




What is College Board looking for?


College Board reviews submitted documentation to see if a disability specifically and directly affects a student's ability to perform well on tests. According to the Accommodations and Support Handbook byCollege Board:


“... the documentation should show evidence of:

  • The disability.

  • The degree to which the student’s activities are affected (functional limitation).

  • The need for the specific accommodations requested.”


Here are a few quick tips:

  • Make sure your documentation is up-to-date and the diagnosis clearly stated.

  • Provide an educational history as well as a medical history.

  • Your evaluator should have professional credentials, and your evaluator should use formal testing to document the disability.


IEP & 504 Plans

Often, students who receive College Board Accommodations already receive accommodations from their school. These school accommodations are frequently documented in an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) or a 504 plan. College Board will require that students who receive school accommodations still submit completed documentation as evidence of any plan they may have in place.


Diagnostic Tests

College Board looks at a few commonly used diagnostic tests to see if a student is eligible for testing accommodations. At the very end, we have prepared a specific list of common evaluations that College Board accepts. Here is a general list of accepted tests:

  • Cognitive Ability Tests

  • Academic Achievement Tests (Reading, Math, and Writing)

  • Timed Academic Tests

  • Tests of Fine Motor/Visual Integration Skills

  • Symptom Validity Tests


A list of common evaluations accepted by College Board, can be found at the end of this article.




Doctors' Notes

“Remember that a doctor’s note is generally not sufficient and cannot substitute for comprehensive testing, except in the case of certain physical/visual conditions.” College Board will want to see your credentialed evaluator use some common tests to diagnose and document the disability.


What if I am just temporarily needing assistance?

Students with temporary impairments (caused by injury, accident, etc.) who cannot postpone their tests can fill out a form. Use this form for the SAT and AP Exams.






How do I request accommodations?


There are two ways to request accommodations:

  1. Through your school

  2. On your own

Requesting through your school

In general, it is easier to ask for accommodations through your school. Your family will have less paperwork. See if your school has a Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) Coordinator. If so, contact the SSD Coordinator who will be able to request and manage the accommodations.


The SSD Coordinator will need a parent or guardian to sign the Parent Consent Form. (If the student is 18 or older, then the student will sign the form). You can find the Parent Consent Form here: https://accommodations.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/ssd-consent-form-accommodations.pdf


Requesting on your own

Some schools may not have an SSD Coordinator. Some families may choose not to involve their school in their accommodations request. Some students, like homeschool students, may not have access to an SSD Coordinator.


In these cases, students or families must themselves request and submit the needed documentation to College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities. To begin you should first print out and complete the Student Eligibility Form (SEF), which can be found here:https://accommodations.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/sat-ssd-eligibility-form.pdf

Once completed, this form and all other documents must be mailed or faxed to College Board SSD.


College Board SSD Program

P.O. Box 7504

London, KY 40742-7504 United States


Or


Fax: 866-360-0114



Student Eligibility Form (SEF)

Whether requesting accommodations through your school or on your own, the SEF must be completed and submitted. According to College Board:

  • “When a family sends the SEF and documentation directly to the College Board, all sections must be completed except Section 15 (Confirming Information and Signature).”

  • “When a school submits the SEF, “Sections 1–10 and Section 16 are generally completed by the student or parent.

    • Sections 11–15 are to be completed by the official representative of the student’s school (often the school’s SSD coordinator).

    • The school will then mail the application for accommodations on the student’s behalf but should keep a copy of each student’s submitted eligibility form on file.”

**More information about the Student Eligibility Form can be found at the end of this guide.**




So… how long does the accommodation request process take?


College Board says “a new request may take up to seven weeks.” It is best to assume longer. As soon as you can, submit your documentation. You can request accommodations a full year in advance of a test. Remember: accommodations requests can be submitted early, but they cannot be submitted late.



Where is testing?


There are two options for your testing location: 1) Requesting through a school: usually at the school

2) Requesting on your own: you will need to talk to College Board If you are requesting on your own, or if your school cannot provide accommodations, then you will need to talk to College Board to schedule the test and choose the testing location. This may be at a test center or at a school.


Some accommodations may require testing over 2 days. You may need to travel to a location that will provide testing over multiple days.


To save time, try to find one or two local schools that already have an SSD coordinator. Then, ask College Board to provide testing at those locations. When you mail or fax your documentation, feel free to include information about schools you think could proctor the test with accommodations.




Additional notes on accommodations


Above, we have included a list of the most common accommodations. For a comprehensive list, see Section 11 of the Accommodations and Support Handbook.


NOTE: “If you need to change your accommodations, contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) as soon as possible but no later than 5 days before test day. Accommodations cannot be added or waived on test day.” ALSO NOTE that if you or your student receives extended time, the extended time must be used. Sections will not be ended early. If a student finishes the test early, the student must wait until time is completely up before leaving.




Did you know that the PSAT and SAT are going digital?


By Spring 2024, all SAT and PSAT exams will be administered digitally. Learn more here. In general, paper and pencil exams will no longer be available. This will change how accommodations are arranged.

Here are some quick notes about the digital tests and accommodations:

  • Math

    • a calculator is built into the digital test and is a universal tool for all students

    • there will no longer be a need to request a calculator, since it is always available

  • Large-Print

    • students will use the zoom in and out function on their devices, so there is no need for large-printing now

  • Color Overlay/Color Contrast:

    • students can use the color settings available through their devices, or they can use a plastic overlay attached to their device's screen

  • Pre-recorded audio and human reader:

    • students with these accommodations will now use the screen reader (aka text-to-speech)

    • students with this accommodation will also receive extended time (time and one-half)

  • If you or your student needs assistive technology, it may require a special configuration

  • If a student is unable to test using the digital test, they should contact customer service to request a paper test:

    • “We are making a full transition to digital, so once we begin administering the SAT Suite digitally we will no longer offer a paper and pencil version of the tests. Though we will continue to support students who test with accommodations that require a paper and pencil test.”



Steps to applying for accommodations

  • Find a credentialed evaluator

  • the disability must be diagnosed using proper evaluation tests

  • the disability must be documented in detail, including how the disability directly affects testing

  • Fill out the Student Eligibility Form

  • Choose the test date and mark it on the form

  • If you are sending documents directly to College Board, all sections must be completed except Section 15 (Confirming Information and Signature)

  • If your school is sending the documents to College Board, then fill out Sections 1–10 and Section 16

  • Review the notes below to guarantee you fill out the Student Eligibility Form correctly

  • Prepare the medical history and academic history documents

  • Submit the Student Eligibility Form, medical history, and academic history to College Board SSD as soon as possible

    • Expect the process to take seven weeks by the time documents are received



Detailed instructions for completing the Student Eligibility Form (SEF)?


As a reminder:

  • If you are sending documents directly to College Board, all sections must be completed except Section 15 (Confirming Information and Signature)

  • If your school is sending the documents to College Board, then fill out Sections 1–10 and Section 16

    • Also fill out the Parent Consent Form and give it to the SSD coordinator

Here are the College Board instructions regarding the Student Eligibility Form (SEF).

  • Section 7: Country Code

  • Section 8: College Board High School Code

    • “Print your 6-digit high school code, which is available in your guidance office or online using Code Search on the SAT website.

    • If you are a home-schooled student, enter 970000

    • If you are no longer in school or do not have a high school code, enter 000003 (in the US or US territories) or 000004 (in international locations).”

  • Section 9: Date of Next Intended Test

    • “Select the first test that you intend to take with accommodations, then enter the month and year of the exam.”

  • Section 11: Requested Accommodations

    • “Include only accommodations needed for standardized tests.

    • When multiple accommodations address the same need—a human reader versus screen reader (text-to-speech), braille versus large print—choose only one for each need. If this is a rare case in which more than one accommodation is required, please provide a detailed explanation.

    • In most cases, the student should request only those accommodations currently provided in school.

    • If any accommodations are being requested that have not been provided for school tests, or are not included the school plan, this must be indicated in section 14.”

    • “Students who are approved to test with extended time and who will take the SAT, the PSAT/NMSQT, the PSAT 10, or the PSAT 8/9 are also automatically approved to test with extra breaks.”

  • Section 12: Use of Accommodations Requested

    • “Indicate whether the accommodations being requested have been provided for school tests and are included on the student’s current IEP, 504 plan, or formal written plan or program.

    • If any of the requested accommodations have not been provided and/or used on school tests, or are not included on the plan, indicate this in the space provided.”

  • Section 13: Disability

    • “For visual, physical, and other impairments, please specify the student’s condition as diagnosed.

    • Please use the appropriate entry for the diagnosed condition. For example, any ADHD diagnoses (including ADD) fall under ADHD. Psychiatric disabilities may include anxiety, depression, Tourette’s, and OCD. Physical impairments may include cerebral palsy and diabetes. Common visual impairments include convergence insufficiency and legally blind.

    • Use Other Impairment for diagnosed conditions that do not fall under the other categories. Again, please specify the disability as diagnosed.”

  • Section 14: Documentation

    • “Formal Educational Plan/Program:

      • Indicate whether the student has a current (within 12 months) IEP, 504 plan, or some other type of school-generated formal plan.

      • Indicate in the box the date of the current plan/program, even if it was created at another school. If your records do not indicate when the current plan was created, enter the date of the oldest plan for which records exist (e.g., "prior to 2005"). If there is no plan or program, leave the space blank.

      • Indicate in the box the date of the initial plan/program, even if it was created at another school. If your records do not indicate when the initial plan was created, enter the date of the oldest plan for which records exist (e.g., "prior to 2005"). If there is no plan or program, leave the space blank.

    • Evaluation Testing:

      • Please indicate the type of evaluation (i.e., psychoeducational, neuropsychological, psychological, psychiatric, medical, visual, audiological, etc.) used to diagnose the disability. Remember that a doctor’s note is generally not sufficient and cannot substitute for comprehensive testing, except in the case of certain physical/visual conditions.

      • Commonly used cognitive ability tests include the most recent version of the WAIS or WISC, and commonly used academic achievement tests include the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement and the WIAT.”


Once completed, send this form and all documentation to:

College Board SSD Program

P.O. Box 7504

London, KY 40742-7504 United States


Or


Fax: 866-360-0114




Accepted Diagnostic Tests


Here are a list of commonly used tests that College Board typically accepts:

  • Cognitive Ability Tests

    • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale or Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children

    • Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Cognitive Abilities

    • Stanford Binet Intelligence Scales (when individually administered)

    • Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children

    • Differential Ability Scales

    • Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales

  • Academic Achievement Tests

  • Reading

    • Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement (general and extended batteries that include fluency measures)

    • Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults

    • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, with reading rate measure

    • Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement

    • Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests (when individually administered)

    • Nelson Denny Reading Test

  • Mathematics

    • Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement (general and extended batteries including fluency measures)

    • Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults

    • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test

    • Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement

  • Written Language

    • Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement (general and extended batteries including fluency measures)

    • Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults

    • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test

    • Test of Written Language

    • Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement

  • Timed Academic Tests

    • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test

    • Nelson-Denny Reading Test

    • Test of Written Language

    • Gates-MacGinitie Reading Tests

    • Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement

    • Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults

    • In every case, we recommend using the most current version of a test.

  • Tests of Fine Motor/Visual Integration Skills

    • Beery Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration

    • Bender Gestalt Test of Visual Motor Perception

    • Rey Complex Figure Test and Recognition Trial

    • Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency

    • Selected subtests from Wechsler cognitive assessment (WAIS or WISC), Woodcock-Johnson Cognitive and Academic assessments (WJ Cog/ WJ ACH), and a Developmental Neuropsychological Assessment (NEPSY)

    • Use of the current version of any of these assessments is recommended.

  • Symptom Validity Tests

    • In keeping with best clinical practices, documentation should reflect a multimethod evaluation. In most cases, this should include an assessment of symptom validity, such as a discussion and interpretation of the consistency and inconsistency of symptoms and performance; results from specific, well-validated symptom validity tests; or discussion of forced-choice tests.

    • For example, a discussion of performance could include an explanation of inconsistent data on different neurocognitive and psychological tests, performance patterns, observed behaviors, and embedded validity indicators.

    • In every case, we recommend using the most current version of a test.



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Please reach out to us at Tried & True, if you have any questions. We love to talk.



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