SAT for high schooler with math IEP

Hello: My daughter has an IEP in math, and takes math at Tilden. She just completed 10th grade.  It took her 2 years to complete Algebra 1 at Tilden. She will start Geometry in the fall. She has dyscalculia.  I am concerned that she has not have completed enough math to be able to do the more complicated problems on the SAT, by next fall, and not necessarily by next spring.    I'm also concerned that she just won't get a very good score, because of the anxiety of having to do math problems under pressure, especially if she has not covered the math before.  Other then math, she is a very good student, so the worst case scenario is that she will have a good verbal score and a very low math score.  I've also been told that she won't qualify for a UC because she will not have completed the necessary math classes.  What have other parents done in this scenario?  Do you explain a very low math score to the colleges?  If so, how? 

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My daughter also had an IEP which qualifies her to receive double time when taking tests. I’m surprised your weren’t already made aware about accommodations for her. See there website for more information.

There are many excellent colleges that are test optional. (Think Bowdoin, Wesleyan, Smith, Whitman, Mt. Holyoke, Sarah Lawrence, Pitzer and many, many others.) A lot of them are smaller, liberal arts colleges. My daughter didn't need to go test optional, but the schools she was interested in were nearly all test optional. Your daughter's math struggles may be an impediment to admission at the tippy top test-optional schools like the ones I listed, but there are plenty of other choices out there. 

There is a process for students to receive extended time on College Board testing, assuming it is part of the the student's regular accommodations at school Tilden should have an "SSD Coordinator" who can help. Your IEP case carrier may know who that is. You can also contact the College Board SSD staff directly. Historically, College Board tests already allow students to use a simple calculator. The application for accommodations takes some time to process, so my advice on that is to start as early as possible. 

Regarding testing, my own child looked at both the ACT and SAT and decided to take the ACT, so that is worth a look.  The accommodations process for the ACT is also less complex. For either one, in my opinion,it helps students a great deal to have done practice tests to be familiar with the presentation of the problems

Regarding academic preparation, the counseling staff at Tilden should be able to explain the a-g requirements and recommend the an approach for your daughter.  Nationally, there are quite a few 4 year colleges that have flexible entrance requirements and some may end up with a similar cost to a UC.

All the best to you and your daughter!  You are asking these questions at a good time to for a successful college application process.


The College Board allows accommodations for some disabilities.  Extra time and the use of a four function calculator might be allowed for a kid with dyscalculia. You will need permission from the College Board, and it seems to take a minimum of 6 months to go through the approval and appeals process for accommodations for qualified needs.  Here’s a link to the College Board site:

Good luck!

My son just completed 11th and also takes math at Tilden and is on an IEP.  First things first.  If you are hoping to get into UC, or many other schools, they will want to see three years of math, which would be Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 (Tilden, as you know, doesn't do "Common Core" math).  If she is up for it, I would encourage her to keep plugging away at the math requirements.  My son found Geometry to be easier than either of the Algebra classes.  If she can handle it (some kids really need a break), take summer school to try to finish the three years by the time she graduates from high school.  It's all about options, and this path keeps the most open for now.  

I think many IEP kids do better on the ACT than the SAT.  One good thing about the ACT is you can apply for flexible time over MULTIPLE days.  This means it's not just one endless day of testing.  A very helpful accommodation.  (Appeal if they don't give it to you, but they should).  We just got my son's scores.  His math (and science) scores were both quite low, but his English and Reading scores brought up his composite to the point where we feel he actually has a strong likelihood of being accepted at a 4-year school.  This has been his goal all along.

Keep in mind also that the goal is not just to get in to a school, but to be successful there.  I think any school that doesn't show flexibility around her math disability is not worthy of consideration.  This is because most schools have a math requirement to graduate.  Even if it is only one class, this can be a huge barrier to kids like your daughter (and my son).  Some of these kids get stuck in a remedial math class (that they have to pass before passing the math class that's required to graduate) and they keep taking it over and over and over.  

Once you start your search for post-high school options, you will probably end up calling schools to talk to their Disability Student Office.  But the bottom line is that there are schools out there that will want your daughter because, as you say, she is a very good student - she just struggles with math.  Best of luck to you.  I know firsthand what a long road this is.  

Many applications have a place for you to add additional information (like an explanation of a poor grade or of a learning challenge). I would recommend that you continue your great work and keep pushing her through in math. But don't stress her or yourself out too much. If she scores well on the verbal section of the SAT, she should have a viable application.