Not all test-takers are able to complete the ACT or SAT in the “standard” manner due to documented disabilities. In such instances, test-takers may request one or more testing accommodations.
If you know that you will need to apply for testing accommodations for either college admissions exam, make a note to review the following items.
What ACT and SAT Testing Accommodations Look Like
The College Board, creator of the SAT, offers accommodations for students with documented disabilities. These accommodations include Braille and large-print exam booklets, speech-to-text technology, additional or longer breaks, extended time and more. If you have questions about a specific accommodation, you can contact Services for Students with Disabilities at the College Board.
If you are taking the ACT, you will also have access to numerous accommodations, including but not limited to large-print test materials, fidget devices, beverages, food and medicine in the exam room. If you have questions about a specific accommodation, you can fill out and submit a test accommodations contact form online.
Requesting ACT or SAT Testing Accommodations
Students who plan to take the SAT are encouraged to request accommodations through their high school, while students who plan to take the ACT are required to do so through the ACT’s Test Accessibility and Accommodations System.
Unless you are an SAT student who prefers to request accommodations independently – something the College Board advises against under most circumstances – be aware that most or all communication throughout the request process will go through your school official, specifically the SSD coordinator.
For either exam, an official form must be filled out to formally apply for accommodations. The College Board requires a Student Eligibility Form while the ACT asks for a form called Consent to Release Information to ACT. You may also be required to submit information from documents like an individualized education program, or IEP, or a 504 Plan.
The College Board notes that the documentation review and approval process for SAT accommodations can take up to seven weeks. The ACT processes its requests more quickly, usually within 10 to 14 business days.
Note that while the deadlines for accommodations are usually just a few weeks before exam dates, it is best to submit your request for either test as early as possible, even several months in advance. This way, if you are asked to amend or submit additional paperwork, you are less likely to run out of time.
To avoid delays in processing, double-check that you have fulfilled all the application requirements, signed everything and are submitting all of the requested documentation.
Important Notes About ACT and SAT Accommodations
Families who are overwhelmed by the accommodations request process should know that they are not alone. Consider scheduling an appointment with your school guidance counselor or speaking with a special education teacher who can orient you.
While the number of test-optional colleges continues to grow, roughly one-fourth of American colleges and universities still require the submission of ACT or SAT scores for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle. If you have a documented disability, be sure to review the webpages linked above.