When thinking about the SAT, it is all too common to see a giant, impersonal system. It is difficult to imagine that within College Board there are many people and mechanisms in place to help students who need to overcome specific challenges. Believe it or not, though, it actually is true. There are all manner of health related difficulties that the people at College Board are committed to helping students surmount with various accommodations, so all students can demonstrate what they are truly capable of on test day.
Who qualifies for an accommodation on the SAT?
The College Board lists four general criteria that must be met to receive accommodations. 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 must be helping to mitigate the problem posed by the disability. Finally, most people who receive accommodations on the SAT are people who receive accommodations in high school already.
Who requests accommodations and what are they?
College Board is committed to helping students with all manner of disabilities, and the four criteria listed above should be used as a guideline. According to College Board, some of the primary reasons for requesting accommodations are vision and hearing impairment, ADHD, dysgraphia, autism spectrum disorders, communication disorders, learning disorders, and psychiatric disorders. If you or someone close to you has a disability not listed here, do not panic. These disabilities are only some of the most common.
If someone does have a qualifying disability, there is a range of accommodations listed on the College Board website that could help, such as extra breaks or extended time. There could even be a computer accommodation for someone who might have difficulty completing the essay portion by hand. For hearing or sight impairments, there are various accommodations, such as large print test booklets or a human reader and pre-recorded test portions. Once again, these are merely some notable examples. There are other possible accommodations available, since ultimately the goal is to help students.
How to Request Accommodations
Finally, you are probably wondering how to go about requesting accommodations and getting them approved. We will discuss some parts of the process below:
- Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) must approve your request. It is important to remember that this process could take up to seven weeks, so start early!
- Please remember that accommodations received in school do not guarantee that SSD will grant your accommodation request. Coming to the exam on test day with paperwork from your school will, unfortunately, not achieve anything without going through the process with SSD.
- Most students work with their schools to submit accommodations requests online. Schools usually have an SSD Coordinator who helps students during the accommodations request process. This is the person whom you will need to contact to open the application. This will also be the person with whom you will coordinate the submission of documentation.
- As you work with the SSD Coordinator at your school, your documentation will probably need to include either a psychoeducational exam or report from a doctor, and it will need to prove the disability and how this disability affects you or your student. It will also need to show why a certain accommodation is necessary.
- There are a few additional things to consider regarding the process: a doctor’s note or IEP is not sufficient on its own. You are going to be asked to provide supporting information. As you are working through the process, consider what accommodations you are requesting. Many people request extra time, but all too often there may be a different accommodation that will be more helpful. Finally, do not request any accommodations that are not actually going to be helpful. The more you request, the more the review process can be slowed down, and you want to proceed quickly, as it is useful to find out your request has been approved as soon as possible in case there are any unexpected errors that need to be corrected.
In conclusion, all too often students who could very well apply for, and receive, accommodations, do not take advantage of the opportunities that exist. This is, of course, primarily because students and parents do not realize that these opportunities are there and readily available. Hopefully reading this has helped make you aware of the accommodations that you or a loved one could receive! The goal is to always make the process less daunting and allow all students to show their dream colleges what they are really capable of.
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.