The ACT and SAT are the two most common “entrance exams” that high school students in the United States must take as part of the college admissions process. While studying and preparing for these exams can be overwhelming, they can be far more complicated if your child has learning difficulties. Learning difficulties result from certain neurobiological or genetic factors that affect a person’s brain processes. Therefore, they reduce the brain’s ability to learn, read, write, and understand mathematics, making it harder for a student to succeed in those areas compared to other students. Luckily, you can apply for ACT and SAT accommodations for your child so their testing experience is more manageable and fair.
The top 5 most common types of learning difficulties
As you know, there are various kinds of learning difficulties. The following are the five most common. If your child has one of these learning difficulties, you can request ACT and SAT accommodations to help them take either exam in an environment that better suits their needs.
It is one of the most common language-based learning disabilities. It affects a student’s ability to read, comprehend, or write accurately and fluently. Dyslexia affects people of all ages but is often more recognizable in younger students. A common symptom of dyslexia includes reversing the correct order or position of numbers and letters. More symptoms include having difficulties proofreading or learning how to spell.
ADHD, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, is a learning disability that affects a student’s ability to pay attention, focus or sit still for long periods. Kids and teens dealing with ADHD have difficulty controlling their hyperactivity. According to the CDC, over 6 million children are diagnosed with ADHD.
This learning disorder primarily affects a person’s math skills. Students dealing with the disorder have difficulty understanding and performing mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, and more.
Dysgraphia affects a student’s ability to write coherently and accurately. Its main symptoms include messy handwriting, taking a long time to write sentences, poor grammar, difficulty organizing chapters, etc.
People with Dyspraxia have difficulty planning and coordinating their movements. The disability affects their fine motor skills, like maintaining balance, tying shoelaces, maintaining hand-eye coordination, holding and writing with a pen, etc.
As a parent, wanting the absolute best for your child is natural. You want them to get a fair shot at everything, including their ACT and SAT exams. This is where ACT and SAT accommodations come into the picture.
ACT and SAT accommodations are designed to make the test process and environment more favorable for students with disabilities. These accommodations include options like extended time, a special seating arrangement, or an assistant for reading the questions. They level the playing field for students with learning difficulties and ensure their condition doesn’t affect a fair shot at the exam and getting into their dream college.
What are the different types of ACT and SAT accommodations available?
Luckily, both the ACT organization and College Board (SAT) offer various accommodation options to students, depending on their situation. The most common one is extended time. Along with this option, there are a few other accommodations that you can get for your child and ensure they can take their test comfortably.
That said, let’s have a look at the principal ACT and SAT accommodations available today:
- 50% extra time: With the 50% extra time on the ACT option, your child can have 50% more time than the standard amount of time allotted to complete the test.
- 100% extra time: With 100% extra time on the ACT, your child will be given double the standard amount of time for the test. If your child gets 100% time, the ACT will be administered over multiple days.
- Test setting with reduced distractions.
- Use of a computer to answer the essay portion of the test.
- 50% extra time: Similar to the ACT, if your child has certain learning difficulties, you can apply for 50% extra time on the SAT. This option will give them 50% more time than the standard.
- 100% extra time: With 100% extra time on the SAT, your child will get double the standard amount of time to take the test. When it comes to the SAT, 100% extra time means that the test will be administered over two days at the student’s own school instead of the designated test center.
- Extra breaks of 5 minutes in addition to the standard breaks.
- Extended breaks of about 10 minutes.Permission to use a computer for essays.
Other options for additional disabilities
Apart from learning disabilities, if a student has any other disability like visual impairment, they are eligible to receive certain accommodations, including:
- Enlarged test format (14-point type)
- 50% extra time
- Extended breaks
- Access to a computer
- Small group testing
- Access to a screen magnifier
How to apply for ACT and SAT accommodations
First of all, it’s important to note that it can take four to seven weeks for your child’s accommodations request to be reviewed. Therefore, if you want to submit a request, it is smart to apply for it well in advance of your child’s test date. To apply for successfully so they can get extra time, extended breaks, or any other accommodation, follow the steps below.
Steps for requesting ACT accommodations
Step 1: Visit the ACT website to learn about the latest instructions to apply for accommodations.
Step 2: Register your child for the ACT exam. On the application form, you can request accommodations and specify your child’s required accommodations. Complete and submit the form on the ACT web portal.
Step 3: As soon as you fill out and submit the application form, you will receive an email from the ACT. The email will indicate the next steps on how to work with your child’s school and submit the necessary documentation.
Step 4: Get in touch with your child’s school by forwarding them the email. Sign the Consent to Release Information to ACT form.
Step 5: The school will submit your request and all the required documentation to the ACT organization. It will then review your application and accommodations request and decide whether to grant them. They will notify your child’s school about their decision.
Steps for requesting SAT accommodations
Step 1: First, visit the College Board’s website and check the upcoming SAT exam dates. Ask your child when they prefer to take the exam. Make sure to apply for the accommodations before registering for the SAT.
Step 2: You can contact your child’s high school and get their help to apply for SAT accommodations. Contact your child’s special education case manager, SSD coordinator, or 504 coordinators (eligible for children with a 504 plan). A Services for Students with Disabilities Coordinator can apply online themselves, or they can help you apply yourself.
Step 3: Sign the Parent Consent Form for Accommodations Report and hand it over to the school’s staff member you are working with.
Step 4: Make sure your child’s high school has all the latest and necessary documents that clearly indicate the current impact of their disability on their test-taking ability. If you still need any documents, provide them to the school as soon as possible.
Step 5: Request the staff member to complete the online SAT accommodation application form on the SSD website. Make sure they attach all the necessary documents and submit them.
Step 6: Finally, once the accommodation application is submitted, the College Board will review it and decide how to proceed. It will notify your child’s high school when it has reached a decision. You can expect to hear from the school office in a few weeks.
What else can you do to support your child on the ACT or SAT?
Personalized online tutoring
Apart from applying for ACT and SAT accommodations for your child, you should also ensure they have all the necessary help they require with exam preparation. Students with learning difficulties often require special attention and study material to prepare for the exam.
This is where personalized online tutoring comes into the picture. A tutor with experience working with students with learning difficulties can help create a highly tailored study plan for your child.
Furthermore, tutoring goes a long way in helping students feel comfortable and at ease with the exam material instead of dreading it. Tutors can also offer special learning materials, books, and texts to assist the students in test strategies, reading, writing, and math skills.
Lessonpal is an affordable online tutoring platform that aims to offer top-notch support and guidance to every student, including those with learning difficulties.
The big picture
So there you have it! Those are the step-by-step processes to request ACT and SAT accommodations for your child.
Preparing and taking the ACT and SAT exams as a student with a learning difficulty can be challenging. But with the right accommodations, like extra time, these tests can be much more manageable for your child.
Furthermore, with top-notch tutoring and preparation material, your child can perform their best on these tests and get into their dream college.