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Suniti's Advice Corner

How to Secure Testing Accommodations for the ACT or SAT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Tue, Feb 09, 2016

SAT/ACT accomodation

If your student has a disability, it is imperative that you look into testing accommodations for him/her. However, before you apply for an accommodation, familiarize yourself with the types of accommodations available and the timing of your request.

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Who Qualifies for SAT/ACT Accommodation?

Today, more students, than in any previous years, are being granted accommodations because they have been diagnosed with learning disabilities. However, being diagnosed is just the first step. To qualify for an accommodation, a person must present formal evidence of a disability provided by an authorized assessment.

For students in public school, families can work with the school disability coordinator or a school psychologist to get psychological testing, assess the results and enact interventions that are defined in either the 504 plan or Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Parents of students in private schools may seek self-governing evaluations from licensed neuropsychologists because private schools are not obliged to administer testing.

In addition, the student must show a history of receiving accommodations at his/her school for a stretch of at least 4 months in the case of the SAT and 12 months in the case of the ACT. To show a history of receiving accommodation, you might have to work with your student’s teacher to include documentation or letters describing the accommodation that was provided.

What does SAT/ACT Accommodation Look Like?

The look of each accommodation depends on the type of accommodation needed and varies on a case-by-case basis. Some examples include, requesting a reader or a scribe, a quiet testing room, enlarged print test booklets and answer keys, additional or extended breaks, the use of a computer, and multiple-day testing. It is important to be as specific as possible when making a request regarding the type of accommodation that will be most helpful. These accommodations are endorsed for range of disabilities, all the way from mild to moderate LDs, including anxiety, ADHD and slight visual processing issues to more severe learning disabilities such as dyslexia, major visual impairment and dyscalculia.

The most common type of accommodation granted to a student is 50% extended testing time. At TestRocker, we believe students benefit from this accommodation and it is worth pursuing if your student qualifies. However, a 50% time extension translates to 5 hours and 45 minutes on the SAT with Essay, and can make testing day a test of endurance. To circumvent this, make sure you help your student practice for the SAT/ACT with extended time. TestRocker’s test prep programs give students the option to practice with 50% increased time. Such a realistic timed practice will help students keep their stamina and energy up right till the end on actual test day.

The Application Process

In general, the best way to get accommodation approval is to work with your school. Your school can apply for the accommodation online for the SAT. If you were to do it yourself, you would have to submit a paper application. The table below shows the application process for both ACT and SAT





Complete one of these forms with your school's SSD coordinator:

Request for ACT Special Testing

Application for ACT Extended–Time National Testing

Complete the Student Eligibility Form with your school's SSD (Services for Students with Disabilities) Coordinator. You will be provided a parent consent form to sign as well.


The deadline is typically four weeks to the test date. So get this done as early as possible.

Do this as early as possible, if possible in the spring before the year the test is to be taken.


Time taken

The ACT takes about four weeks to review your information

The College Board can take up to seven weeks to review your information

Next Steps

It will be noted on the admission ticket that you will get in the mail if you are approved for extended-time. You will as well be notified by mail if you are accepted for other testing accommodations.

You will get an Eligibility Letter. This letter will describe the accommodations for which you have been approved and in the letter, there will be inclusion of an SSD Eligibility Code.


Submit your request with the regular registration packet to request extra time. To appeal other accommodations, make sure you submit the application for special testing before submitting the regular registration packet.

When you register for the test, use your SSD Eligibility Code.


Should my student sit for the ACT or SAT

In our experience, timing is more of an issue for those students who take the ACT, even for those who don’t have a learning disability. This is because the ACT has 215 questions versus 154 questions on the SAT that have to be completed in the roughly the same amount of time. Given that the tests have relative scoring, being granted extended time on the ACT gives a student more of an advantage.

Another instance where getting extended time (50%) on the ACT is more beneficial than the SAT is when you are allowed to take the test over multiple days. Taking the test over multiple days helps students feel rested. It also allows students to focus their review only on the sections they are sitting for. Testing over multiple days in normally granted to students taking the ACT outside the United States or Canada. Students taking the test in the United States can also be approved for multiple day testing if they request special testing at their school (instead of at a national testing center). The threshold for being allowed to take the SAT over multiple days is much higher. You need to be granted 100% extra time (not just 50%) and request special testing at school.

 An important consideration when deciding between the two tests is to see which type of test the student is stronger at. There is a difference in content and type of questions between the two tests. Learn more about the differences here. A painless way to compare performance on the two tests is to take TestRocker’s free SAT and ACT Diagnostic tests. Bottom line is, getting more time on either tests is useful and should definitely be pursued.

This article is meant to serve as a general information guide for those planning on requesting for accommodation. You should review ACT and College Board’s website for most up to date information.

Tags: For Students, For Parents

About Suniti

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Suniti is the creator of TestRocker, an online learning platform that helps you unlock your dream SAT and ACT scores. TestRocker is based on Suniti’s highly successful and proven method of teaching students how to maximize their SAT and ACT scores, a method she has perfected through tutoring thousands of students globally for more than a decade. 

TestRocker is a one of a kind online SAT/ACT program that empowers students to take control of their test preparation. After taking our diagnostic test a customized study plan, individualized to students' strengths/weaknesses, allows them to track progress as they work through the program. Each of the 1,200 SAT & 2000 ACT questions on TestRocker are accompanied by video explanations from Suniti. Parents are able to track their child’s progress through biweekly reports.

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