The ACT and SAT tests may seem like an insurmountable challenge, especially if you have learning differences that make it difficult to study in a traditional setting. Fortunately, you can apply for and receive testing modifications that will enable you to take the SAT or ACT test without undue stress or difficulty. What is more, college admission officials aren't informed of the circumstances in which you took the test, so you don't have to worry that requesting a modified testing environment will hurt your higher education prospects.
What SAT and ACT Modifications are Available?
There are a number of SAT and ACT modifications available to qualifying students. SAT modifications include extended time, permission to use a computer to type essays, extra and extended breaks, reading accommodations such as audio test format, permission to use a four-function calculator for math sections, division of the test into multiple days instead of taking the whole test on the same day, and permission to take the test in a small-group setting.
ACT accommodations are different from SAT ones. They include extra breaks during the test, alternative testing formats, permission to take the test with 50% more time than regular students, and reading accommodation in the form of assistive technology or having someone read the test to you.
Choosing a Test
There are two separate processes for applying for SAT and ACT modifications. Colleges and universities accept scores from both tests, so you don't have to worry about being rejected from a school if you choose to take only of these exams. However, there are some important differences between the two tests that you'll want to be aware of before choosing just one. Your strengths and weak areas will have a large bearing on which test will make it easiest for you to get a good score.
When and How to Apply for an Accommodation
Experts agree that it's best to apply for SAT and ACT accommodations as early as possible. It will take time to fill out forms and process the paperwork. Furthermore, you'll need extra time if you have to send in additional paperwork to back up your request or appeal a denial.
The best way to apply for an accommodation is with the help of your high school's guidance counselor or Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) coordinator. Although you can fill out the paperwork and submit it without professional help, the process is much easier if you work with someone who is familiar with the application form and knows which papers you need to submit. Moreover, educators are allowed to use the SSD online application website, making it possible for you to submit your application and track it online.
Students with an IEP or 504 plan that already allows for testing accommodations will still need to apply for the same accommodations for the SAT or ACT test.
Applying for SAT Accommodation
To apply for an SAT accommodation, you must fill out the Student Eligibility Form and send it in with exam results proving that you have a disability that requires one or more testing accommodations. A disability examination can be conducted by the school district at your request. If you opt to go this route, you need to give the district your consent and allow up to 60 days for the examination to take place. Alternatively, you can have the examination done by a doctor of your choice. The examination should be no more than five years old, and the credentials of the medical professional performing the examination—with licensure, certification, and area of specialization—should be included. You should also be prepared to write about your educational, developmental, and medical history and explain how your disability would affect your SAT test results. Be specific about which accommodations you are requesting.
Applying for ACT Accommodation
There are two ACT accommodation forms. These are the Application for ACT Extended Time National Testing and Request for ACT Special Testing. Look over the forms carefully and fill out the one that best fits your condition. You will need to fill out the form with assistance from your current school.
The accompanying paperwork is similar to what you would need if you were to apply for a SAT accommodation. You will need to show medical proof of your disability and clarify which forms of accommodation you are applying for.
Unlike the SAT, the ACT also offers special accommodations to English learners who can prove that they have difficulty reading, writing, speaking, and/or understanding the English language. To receive the ACT accommodations for English learners, you must be enrolled in an English-language program in a school in the United States. You will also need to show the results from an appropriate English language assessment proving that you have limited proficiency in the English language. As with the other ACT forms, you must coordinate with a school official to submit an online request for these accommodations.
Preparing for Test Day
Bear in mind that accommodations to the SAT or ACT are not modifications to the test itself. You'll be taking the exact same test as your peers, so now is the time to prepare strategically to boost your test score. UWorld offers a host of online tools to help you prepare for your exam as quickly and easily as possible. Multiple practice tests, formatted to look like the ACT or SAT test you'll be taking, make it easy for you to adjust to the real test without feeling stressed. Get in touch with us to learn how we can help you ace the test of your choice and reach your educational goals.