Requesting Accommodations on the ACT Exam

March 31, 2021 
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Just as with the SAT (discussed in the previous blog post), students can often feel that they are interacting with a completely impersonal system when preparing for the ACT. Fortunately, like the SAT, the people who work for the ACT are also there to help, offering accommodations to students with a wide range of disabilities. Just as with College Board, the ACT is committed to helping students overcome obstacles, so they can show colleges and universities what they are really capable of accomplishing.

Who qualifies for an accommodation on the ACT?

Though the SAT and ACT are completely different tests provided by separate organizations, the criteria for qualifying for accommodations are very similar. First, the student must have a documented disability. Second, this disability must be something that would actually influence the student negatively on the test itself. Third, the accommodation you are requesting should help mitigate the problem posed by the disability. Finally, most students who receive accommodations on the ACT (as with the SAT), are students who already receive or have received accommodations in high school.  

What are common reasons for requesting accommodations?

On the ACT website, you can find a long list of disabilities that typically qualify for accommodations, including the following: learning disabilities, ADHD, psychiatric disorders, visual and hearing impairments, autism spectrum disorders, speech and language disorders. Remember that this list is not exhaustive, so if you or someone you know has a disability that is not listed here, this does not mean that the ACT cannot or will not help you. Just as with the SAT, the ACT is committed to helping students test at their full potential. For additional guidance on documentation as well as requirements associated with different types of disabilities, please see the link here to find out more from the ACT website.

What kinds of accommodations are common for students on the ACT? 

According to the ACT, a variety of testing accommodations are available, such as braille or large-print test booklets, scribes to transfer answers to the answer sheet, extended time, distraction-free rooms, and permission to bring and take medication during the exam. Once again, this list is not comprehensive. Since all students have different circumstances, it is necessary to work with students to meet their individual needs. In all things, the ACT emphasizes that it adheres to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. 

What is the process for applying for ACT accommodations?

Listed below are some of the major steps involved in the application process:

  1. When students register for the ACT, they will be asked for a high school code and accessibility needs. Once submitted, students will receive an email that must be sent to their school official along with a completed Consent to Release Information to ACT (PDF) form. A link to the form on the ACT website can be found here
  2. Note, the student will be required to work with a school official to make a request.
  3. The school official will be the one to submit the request and documentation to ACT.
  4. School officials will need an account with TAA (Test Accessibility and Accommodations). If they are not set up, they can get set up here. Alternatively a school may have someone already designated as a “trusted agent” from whom access to the system must be requested by the school official with whom you are working to complete this process.

What documentation is required?

First, it must be demonstrated that the disability significantly limits a person’s ability to succeed on the ACT and that a requested accommodation would allow a student to overcome or mitigate these issues. Also the ACT is very specific that if previous accommodations were provided in school, a student must include the accommodations pages from a current Individual Education Program (IEP), Section 504 plan, or official accommodations plan. If accommodations were not provided in school previously, a student would need to explain why they are specifically necessary for the ACT. Also, a licensed professional should make the assessments; types of objective assessments are best.  

Ultimately, both the SAT and the ACT offer students accommodations opportunities that are often underutilized because parents and students do not realize they are available. Accommodations are far more available than many students realize. We hope that this will provide the necessary information students need to be able to perform at their fullest potential when taking the ACT!

At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, our Client Service Directors Susan Ware and Joelle Faucette can be reached at 215-886-9188.

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