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Special Needs Accommodations for the PSAT/NMSQT

If you qualify for accommodations in your school exams, you may be eligible for accommodations on the PSAT/NMSQT also, such as large type or Braille exams, extended time (50 percent or 100 percent more than the usual amount), a reader for the questions or a writer to record your answers, extra breaks, and other adjustments that allow all students a fair shot at showing what they know.

Your school may apply for accommodations for you, or you can apply yourself. If your school is doing all the work, alert the person in charge of testing — usually your guidance counselor, the college counseling office, or the principal — that you’re planning to take the test. Ask about forms you must fill out.

You have to supply a consent form signed by a parent or guardian; the school needs permission before releasing any information about you to the College Board. If you’re doing all the work, download a Student Eligibility Form from the College Board’s website or call the College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities to request one (609-771-7137).

You may be asked for documentation (a form filled out by a doctor, for example). The College Board will probably ask for information about you from your school also.

If you’ve qualified for accommodations on any College Board test (an AP, for example), you may not have to reapply. Check with your school or call 609-771-7137 for more information.

Certifying that you need accommodations takes time — at least seven weeks. Don’t procrastinate (delay).

If you break your wrist or suffer anything that the College Board calls a “temporary medical condition,” talk to a school official or call the College Board right away. You may be granted extra time (so you can bubble answers using your non-dominant hand — your left hand if you’re a righty, and vice versa) or some other help.

However, it’s just as likely that the College Board will say, “Better luck next year,” written in more polite and official language, of course.

If you’re granted accommodations, the College Board sends you an eligibility letter and informs the school. It also assigns you an SSD eligibility code that you’ll need on the exam. Bring the eligibility letter with you to the test.

My general approach to life is “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Even though the school where you’re taking the exam should receive notification about your accommodations and prepare accordingly, it never hurts to check ahead of time. Bring a copy of your eligibility letter to the school administrator to be sure that everything is in place for you.

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