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Does Your Child Need Extra Time for Achievement Exams?

Receiving extra time or other accommodations on the SAT can be a lifesaver for some students. Those who process more slowly than others or who have attention deficits, vision problems, or learning disabilities may get lower scores if they’re required to take these standardized tests in the same format and in the same amount of time as other students. Many of these students are perfectly capable of doing well in college, but they have limited choices for college because their SAT scores are too low. When allowed more time or given other accommodations, their scores better reflect their ability. How does a student receive the accommodations he needs?

  • First, there has to be formal documentation of a learning disability. The College Board wants to see a student’s IEP or 504 plan that addresses her disability. If the student is not attending a public school and does not have an IEP or 504 plan, the College Board will require a recent psychological evaluation completed by a licensed psychologist.
  • Second, students must be using the requested accommodations for an extended period of time before they apply for it through the Board. For the SAT, a student must have been receiving the accommodations in school for at least four months.
  • Third, students will need to have supporting documentation from their high school teachers.


There is a formal filing process through the College Board to receive accommodations, and often a student has to appeal the decision multiple times before receiving extra time. The College Board does not want anyone to have an unfair advantage over other students; they do want those who really need extra time to receive it. That explains why they require formal documentation. Accommodations such as Braille or large print may be easier to receive. Proving the need for extra time is more difficult. Once approved by the College Board, a student may receive the same accommodations for the PSAT, SAT, and AP exams. The ACT requires a similar application process.

For more information about the types of accommodations a student might receive, read ACT and SAT Accommodations: One Size Does Not Fit All.

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