SAT/ACT Accommodations

Posted on 15th September 2021

How to get accommodations for the SAT or ACT

A guide for students and schools

If a student receives extra time or special equipment in exams at school due to things like dyslexia, health conditions or similar, they may be entitled to similar allowances on the SAT and ACT. Even better, they will likely be granted at least 50% extra time, and in some cases the option to take the test over several days! However, it’s not as simple as just sending off the same documents to the SAT or ACT, and a very careful process must be followed, well in advance of your desired test date.

There are a lot of pitfalls, so please read this carefully, and send it to all schools and parents involved.

Choose the right test

Firstly, students should make sure they’re doing the test that’s right for them. We have a Diagnostic Test that helps students decide, but in general, because time is less of an issue, students who prefer maths do the SAT, and students who prefer English do the ACT.

However, there are a few logistical points to consider:

  • Where is the nearest test centre that can cope with extra time students?
  • Will your school let you do the test in school?
  • Do you need a laptop to do the test?
  • Do you need to do the test over multiple days?

Testing possibilities

If a student takes the SAT, the only accommodations available are normally 50% extra time, and the test must be taken on paper in a test centre in one go. It normally cannot be taken in school. This test will happen on the same day as normal tests, on a Saturday morning.

If a student takes the ACT, the options are as follows:

  • Take the test at a test centre on computer with 50% extra time, on a normal test date, on a Friday or Saturday morning (not afternoon). In this case it cannot be done on paper. Very few test centres exist that can cope with this.
  • Take the test on paper in school, with 50%-200% extra time, or over several days. This can be on any day(s) within a specified three-week test window, as decided by the school and student. This is by far the preferred option, but the school must be on board for this to happen. We strongly recommend that students and schools follow this option, as per below.

If an ACT student cannot get their school to allow them to do the test in school, we recommend taking the SAT instead, as it will save a lot of hassle later.

What students and families should do

Early warning: If you think you might want to apply for accommodations (extra time), start this process NOW. It can easily take three months or more to get everything in order. Things you should do now are:

  • Tell your school that you would like accommodations
  • Show your school this guide, so they understand the process
  • Decide which test to take
  • Get an Educational Psychologist’s report that explicitly references this test and standardized tests in general. (We have recommendations of trustworthy psychologists – please contact us.)
  • Do not book any test dates yet – you need to wait for some things to happen as per below.

Registering for the tests – Students/Families

As soon as the above is clear, students/families will need to register (though they cannot do this for SAT until later – see below).

For the ACT, the registration process is as follows:

  1. Get agreement that the school will administer the test on paper in school. If not, you must be confident that there is an ACT test centre where you can take the test nearby (unlikely).
  2. Get an Educational Psychologist's report specifically referencing standardized tests as per above, and send it to the school.
  3. Create an ACT account at https://my.act.org
  4. Once logged in, go to ‘Register for the ACT’ or similar. When the student registers they will have the option to test with Accommodations (choose ‘yes’).
  5. Then, there are two further options: testing in school or at a test centre. We strongly recommend that students choose the in-school option, as few test centres are able to cope with extra time. As per above, please make sure you have liaised with the school about this, and sent them the information below. Choose the appropriate test window.
  6. If you choose the other option (at a test centre), you must make sure that you know there is a test centre where you can take the test nearby, and that you will be taking the test on computer on a certain date. You can follow the process through to the final screen before paying if you are unsure, and see what is available.
  7. The student will receive an email detailing what to send to the school. They must forward this email to the school, and check with the school separately to make sure it has been received.
  8. Families will need to sign a consent form and send that to the school as well. (Detailed in the confirmation email.)
  9. The school will submit all the documentation, and the result will come through in 4-8 weeks.
  10. The student will then sit the test in school on a date set agreed with the school, or at a test centre, if that’s what they choose.
  11. If rejected, the school can appeal, but it will add on several weeks to the final decision.

For the SAT, the registration process is as follows:

  1. Note that you cannot register for an SAT test date until the accommodations are approved by the College Board via your school, so you must do that part first.
  2. Get an Educational Psychologist's report specifically referencing standardized tests as per above, and send it to the school.
  3. The student’s family should sign and submit a consent form to the school: https://www.collegeboard.org/pdf/ssd/ssd-consent-form-accommodations.pdf
  4. The school then submits all the documentation to the College Board.
  5. Once granted, the student/school will receive an ‘SSD’ code.
  6. The student can then register for the SAT with accommodations via https://mysat.collegeboard.org/login (They will need to create an account first, and enter the SSD code when registering.)
  7. The student will take the test on the normal test date, at a test centre.

What the school should do

Firstly, please be aware that this process can take several months, and the school must do several things early to make sure the process goes smoothly. Secondly, we strongly recommend that you allow your students to take the ACT on paper in school. It is much easier to administer than you think, and saves an awful lot of difficulty for the students. No external students will be able to register for the test – it’s private to your school.

Things the school should do as early as possible (ie now!)

  1. Register for the ACT's TAA system here: https://success.act.org/s/login/SelfRegister
  2. If your school is not listed, request it to be added via this form: https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/HighSchoolCodeRequestForm.pdf
  3. Register for the SAT's SSD account here: https://account.collegeboard.org/login/signUp
  4. If your school is not listed, request for it to be added via this form: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/pdf/sat-code-list-services-order-form.pdf
  5. Tell your students to get an Educational Psychologist's report specifically referencing standardised tests. It is rare for accommodations to be granted without this. (We have recommendations of trustworthy psychologists – please contact us.)
  6. Tell your ACT students to register as early as possible, for all test windows they might want to take, and to be sure they choose the ‘in-school’ option. (They can register in advance of being granted accommodations.)
  7. Tell your SAT students to register as soon as accommodations are granted.

Next, you can start submitting documentation for the students, which will allow them to register or confirm their registrations:

For the SAT:

For the ACT :

  • Log into the TAA account you created above here: https://success.act.org/.
  • You should see the students in your system if they have already applied for a test window. Submit the documentation.
  • Once granted, the ACT will send the test papers to the school a couple of weeks before the test window. Agree the date of the test in-school with the student.

Common errors/problems with accommodations:

  • A student registers for accommodations too close to a test date, or doesn’t inform their school early enough. It’s likely that without at least eight weeks’ notice, they won’t be able to take the test – or more, if this is the first time they are registering.
  • A school finds that they are not listed when trying to apply for accommodations. Schools should make sure they are listed several months before they apply, and anyone reading this should apply now!
  • A school submits all the evidence without an Educational Psychologist’s report. Unless the Ed Psych report is written with US standardized tests in mind, it is unlikely that the accommodations will be granted.
  • A student registers for a normal-time test first at a test centre, and subsequently finds it very difficult to have it swapped to extra-time.
  • An ACT student initially chooses the ‘test centre’ option for accommodations, rather than the ‘in-school’ option. Since there are almost no ACT test centres that can cope with extra time, this results in a very long delay in trying to find a test centre or having the accommodations modified.
  • An ACT student registers for an in-school test before agreeing with the school, and the school is reluctant to host the test. We strongly urge schools to be willing to host their own ACT students with accommodations, as it’s (a) very simple, and (b) much less pressure on the student. Please see above.

We realise there is a lot of information here, but hope that our article lays out the important steps. If you require any help, or would like us to be involved in the process (or help fix mistakes!), please get in contact with us.

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