Students who receive extra time for tests in school may also be eligible for extended time on standardized tests from ACT and/or College Board (SAT, SAT Subject Tests, PSAT, and AP exams). Some common reasons to qualify are ADHD, dyslexia or other learning issues or medical conditions. ACT or College Board may also approve students to take tests with extended time over multiple days, sometimes over multiple weeks. To protect students’ privacy, they do not disclose information about accommodations when reporting scores to colleges or scholarship programs.
There are lots of rules and procedures to learn. Do your homework at the College Board and ACT websites: CollegeBoard.org and ACT.org. Also, contact your school’s counseling department, because schools play a vital role in the application process for accommodations. The process is simplified for students with a 504 Plan, IEP or approved accommodations plan. The key is that students must actually use the extended-time accommodations when testing at school.
In some cases, you may be required to provide documentation from an approved practitioner to support an application for certain accommodations. College Board accepts applications for accommodations on their exams as early as 9th grade, and their approval usually remains effective through 12th grade. ACT, on the other hand, requires students to register for an ACT exam before they will consider applications for accommodations. If you register for an early ACT test date, the accommodations process can get started sooner. You can switch to a later ACT date if needed, but a fee will apply.
Plan to apply for ACT accommodations in August of junior year just in case you need to appeal an unfavorable initial ruling. Try to leave time to take the ACT (or SAT or both) two or three times in junior year. Don’t assume that ACT will approve your application just because College Board has already granted its approval. They act independently and sometimes reach different decisions. The ACT and College Board websites are very clear about their accommodations processes. In general, they are rigid about enforcement of all procedures. Don’t expect any exceptions. Even though College Board and ACT streamlined their respective accommodations approval procedures in 2016, the process can still be frustrating, time-consuming and sometimes costly.
Work closely with the designated counselor at your school. Start the process early, follow up often and stay patient yet persistent. It’s worth the effort.