How to Accommodate Special Needs for the SAT

By Geraldine Woods, Ron Woldoff

In a speech introducing the redesigned SAT, the president of the College Board stressed fairness and equal access for all students, including those with special needs. Even if you don’t think you belong in that category, you may discover an option here that will help you “show what you know” when it matters most.

If you have a learning disability, you may be allowed to take the SAT under special conditions. The first step is to get an Eligibility Form from your school counselor. (Home-schoolers, call the local high school.) You may also want to ask your college counseling or guidance office for a copy of the College Board Services for Students with Disabilities Brochure (pamphlet). If your school doesn’t have one, contact the College Board directly (212-713-8333, TTY 609-882-4118) or check the testing agency’s website. You can also contact the College Board by mail at this address: College Board SSD Program, P.O. Box 8060, Mount Vernon, IL 62864-0060.

After you’ve been certified for accommodations on one College Board test (an AP, an SAT Subject Test, or the PSAT/NMSQT), you’re certified for all.

File the form well in advance of the time you expect to take the test. Generally, if you’re entitled to extra test time in your high school, you’ll be eligible for extra time on the SAT. What does extra time really mean? Extra time equals 1 1/2 the usual amount for each section. So if regular test-takers have 50 minutes to write the essay, for example, extended-timers get 75 minutes.

At no additional charge, the SAT also provides wheelchair accessibility, large-print tests, and other accommodations for students who need them. The key is to submit the Eligibility Form early so that the College Board can ask for suitable documentation and set up appropriate test conditions for you. You can send paper documentation or file an Eligibility Form via the Internet. Check out www.collegeboard.com/students-with-disabilities for details.

If a physical problem (a broken arm, perhaps) occurs shortly before your scheduled SAT and you can’t easily take the exam at a later date, call the College Board (212-713-8333, TTY 609-882-4118), explain the situation, and have your physician fill out the forms requesting whatever accommodation you need.

Questions about special needs? Your high school’s counselor or principal can help, or you can email the College Board (ssd@info.collegeboard.org).