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SAT Testing Accommodations 

Taking the SAT can present certain challenges for students with disabilities. Fortunately, the College Board provides a variety of SAT accommodations for students who have documented disabilities. Accommodations are special arrangements meant to make the testing process easier. In this guide, we’ll cover the various testing accommodations available to students. We’ll also talk about eligibility requirements and request procedures. 

Also see: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool

Am I eligible for accommodations? 

To be eligible for testing accommodations, students must have a disability that affects their capacity to read, write, or sit for extended periods. Examples include learning disorders, physical and medical impairments, and blindness or visual impairments. Additionally, students must provide documentation of their disability. This can be a doctor’s report or a psychoeducational evaluation. Learn more about documentation guidelines on the College Board’s website

Temporary medical or physical conditions (such as illness or injury) are usually not considered disabilities. In these cases, the College Board recommends that students reschedule their test date for a time after they have recovered. If that is not possible, students can submit a request for temporary assistance

Also see: SAT vs. ACT: Which should I take?

What kind of testing accommodations are available?

Accommodations vary depending on the student’s individual needs. Some students may require extended time or additional breaks, while others may need some type of assistive technology. The following list is not all inclusive, but it covers the main types of accommodations provided by the College Board. If you need a different type of accommodation not listed below, you may be able to make a special request. 

Extended time 

Students can request extended testing time if their disability causes them to work more slowly than other students. Extended time accommodations vary depending on the student’s needs. Students may receive additional time for only certain sections of the exam, or they may receive extended time for the entire exam.

Additional breaks

The SAT includes scheduled breaks, but students with disabilities might be eligible for additional or longer breaks. For instance, students can request breaks to take medication, test their blood sugar, or rest and regain focus. 

Recording responses

Some students have disabilities that impact their ability to record responses to test questions. Disabilities may include dysgraphia, visual impairments, or motor skill deficits that affect their ability to write. Fortunately, there are several accommodations available. Depending on their specific needs, students may receive a computer for word processing, a large-print answer sheet, or a scribe. 

Assistive technology 

Students can request assistive technology if they have visual or physical disabilities that impair their ability to read or write. Examples of assistive technology include electronic magnifying machines, text-to-speech (screen reader), speech-to-text, and electronic or talking calculators. 

Use of a four-function calculator

In some cases, students can request the use of a four-function calculator for use on non calculator sections. To be eligible, students must have a diagnosed disability (such as dyscalculia) that impairs their ability to perform math calculations.

Reading and seeing accommodations

There are several accommodations available for students who have a disability that affects their capacity to read or see. Disabilities may include blindness, other visual impairments, or severe reading disabilities. Examples of accommodations include large-print test books, braille with raised line drawings, prerecorded audio, and human readers. 

Related: ACT testing accommodations

How do I receive accommodations? 

To receive accommodations, students must make a request and be approved by College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). There are a couple different ways to make accommodation requests, which we’ve listed below. Keep in mind that the approval process can take up to seven weeks, so it’s best to make any requests well ahead of your test date. 

Requesting through the school 

Most accommodation requests are made through the school since this is the easiest and most efficient way. To make their request, students should contact their school’s SSD coordinator. If you don’t know who this is, your guidance counselor should be able to point you in the right direction. From there, your SSD counselor will submit a request to the College Board through SSD Online. Learn more about this process on the College Board’s website

Requesting without going through the school 

Although most families request accommodations through their school, it’s also possible to submit a request directly to the College Board. This usually happens when the student is homeschooled, when the family does not wish to involve the school, or when the school is unable to access SSD Online. To make this type of request, the Student Eligibility Form must be completed and mailed or faxed to College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities. Learn more about this process on the College Board’s website

Preparing for the exam 

There are several SAT practice tests available for students who have made a request to use assistive technology during the exam. If you plan on using a screen reader or other assistive technology, these practice tests are a great way to find out what the actual exam will be like. Also be sure to check out our guide on free SAT prep resources. Good luck! 

Related: How to improve your SAT score in 6 steps

Frequently asked questions about SAT accommodations

Can I get an SAT accommodations for anxiety?

Students who provide documented history of troubles with anxiety and a medical diagnosis might be able to get an SAT accommodation. The burden will be on the student, however, to prove how their anxiety justifies those extra accommodations.

It should also be noted that generally, test-taking anxiety will not qualify as a factor that justifies accommodations. However, we do have a list of pointers to help students with this problem do their best on standardized tests.

Related: Top mental health scholarships

How far in advance do I have to request SAT accommodations?

The College Board writes that SAT accommodations can take up to seven weeks to receive approval. So, to give yourself ample time, try to submit your request as early as possible. In the event you have to appeal your request or supple additional information, you want to leave some buffer time to ensure that you can complete the process.

Do students with ADHD or ADD get extra time on the SAT?

Students with clinical diagnoses of ADHD and/or ADD can receive accommodations for extra time on the SAT. You’ll need to provide records and documentation of the diagnosis and submit it with enough time for the College Board to process your application. Typically, this means submitting your materials at least about 7 weeks before your test date.

Also see: Top ADHD/ADD scholarships

How much extra time can I get on the SAT?

Students with accommodations receive various levels of extra time on the SAT. Some receive an additional 50%, others 100%, and others, even 150%. This will vary based on the cause of your accommodation. If you receive double time (100% more time) or more, you’ll end up taking the test over a period of two days or more.

Are there ESL SAT accommodations?

The SAT offers a range of accommodations for students whose first language is anything other than English. They may offer translated test directions, up to 50% more time, and bilingual dictionaries. You’ll have to provide proper documentation to obtain this accommodation; check with your school’s counselors and SAT officials to find out what to submit, and start the process sooner rather than later to ensure there is time to process your application.

Related: Top scholarships for international students

Do I need documentation of my disability to get SAT accommodations?

Yes – no matter whether you are applying for a disability, be it physical or mental, or applying as an ESL student, you’ll need documentation to secure SAT accommodations. Make sure to procure and submit these documents earlier rather than later to ensure you have time to submit any necessary supplemental materials or appeal any decisions.

Related: How to find the perfect test prep tutor