In July 2021, ACT streamlined the process for students wanting or needing testing accommodations which in our experience is a WIN for families!
For some students, best performance on the ACT or SAT is a daunting task given they most always require additional time at school and/or on standardized tests. Extended time is the popular, but not the only accommodation ACT allows. Others include those for English learners, small room testing, a reader, and more.
Who Qualifies for ACT Extended Time
Students with physical disabilities, medical conditions, hearing or visual impairment, those who have diagnosed ADHD, psychiatric conditions, or learning disabilities may apply for extended time.
*NEW* for the 2021-22 school year...for those students attending PUBLIC schools who are on a 504 plan or IEP, students already receiving accommodations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act they will now AUTOMATICALLY be eligible to receive allowable testing accommodations when they register for the ACT with accommodations. This cuts through a lot of frustrating red tape families encountered previously.
Unfortunately, students who are homeschooled or attending private schools do not qualify for the automatic eligibility. These students can apply for accommodations, but there is not an automatic eligibility.
How To Request ACT Accommodated Testing
Before applying for accommodations, students need to register online for an ACT test. As with everything in the college selection and application process, pay close attention to deadlines which are usually 4 to 5 weeks before the test date.
If applying for accommodations, I recommend doing it far in advance of your test date. Students will want to know if they are approved receive extended time, and other accommodations, before starting test prep, so plan ahead. However, officially, requests need to meet the "late registration deadline" for any test date.
Need a testing timeline and prep plan? Submit your information to our Client Relationship Manager and we will be in touch shortly to help design an individualized plan.
At the time of registration, the student will select that they will be applying for testing accommodations. While registering for a test date, students will also provide their high school code as well as the needs they need to have met with accommodations.
Sign the ACT Authorization to Release Personal Information. The form will come via email (many students are not in the practice of checking email!!), so be on the lookout! This gives permission for the school to release necessary information to ACT. Without your signed consent, you will not qualify for accommodated testing.
Note that once a student turns 18, an age at which most won't still be testing, the student would need to sign an additional release to allow parents to communicate with ACT on their behalf.
At this point the ball gets tossed to the high school to officially submit the request and required documentation for approval.
Nervous your school might drop the ball? It rarely happens, but ACT has now closed the loop on this.
*NEW* for 2021-22 and beyond if the student indicated at the time of registration that they will be applying for accommodations, but ACT does not receive an official request from the school, the family will receive an email from ACT letting them know they've not received the request and the date by which it must be received.
While the family waits for approval, additional supporting documents cannot be added until a decision has been made. It's a good idea to get with the school on what you would like to have included in the request.
Types of ACT Accommodations
There are three typical types of accommodations granted (this does not include all):
- National Standard Time with Accommodations where the student will test on a national, Saturday, test date. These students are not granted extra time or different test forms but can have special seating if in a wheelchair or access to snacks throughout testing if diabetic, as examples.
- National Extended Time (50% Time Extension) also occurs on a national test date and is the most common type of testing granted. Typically 10 or fewer students will test in a separate room, with 50% more time than non-accommodated students.
- Special Testing at School usually takes place at the student’s home school and is given during the week. This is for students requiring extended time greater than time and a half or alternate test forms. This could include a reader, scribe, braille, or a computer, for example. Most often these students test individually and testing can occur over several days.
English Learners and Disabilities
ACT also announced in August 2021 renewed commitments to these groups as well. The organization has even create a new team ACT Accessibility and Accommodations team who insures top quality customer support and accessibility. They can be contacted here for any accommodations questions.
SAT Testing Accommodations
The process for requesting testing accommodations for SAT and any Collegeboard test (PSAT and AP included) varies a bit.
- The student does not need to be registered for a test to request future accommodations
- The request starts with the school
- A Parent Consent Form is signed after the school initiates
Appealing a Denial for Accommodations
If the initial request for accommodations is not granted, families do have the right to appeal. Allowing plenty of time to appeal is important which again reinforces the need to PLAN AHEAD. Timely application also allows for test preparation with the type of extended time granted or not granted.