Applying for Accommodations for the SAT

Related Page: Advice about the SAT

Parent Q&A

  • SAT for high schooler with math IEP

    (6 replies)

    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? 

    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.


Archived Q&A and Reviews

The College Board is denying accommodations for dyslexic student 

July 2014

I am very frustrated and discouraged with the SAT college board. My son is dyslexic and has all the correct paperwork to justify his getting a reader and scribe for his test taking, but has been denied. He is a straight A student, but without his tools - audio books and dictation software - he wouldn't be. He has worked tremendously hard these past three years, and the college board denying him these necessary tools is beyond maddening. It seems discriminating. We've followed the prescribed path - and are running into this road block?! We don't know how to get around it. Does anyone know of high school students that have been allowed to a have a reader, someone to read the lengthier parts of the exam to them, and/or to use dictation software while taking the SAT? I'd be interested in hearing their story, it might be helpful in our plight to get my son (a junior) the accommodations he needs and that his neuro-psych evaluation says he requires. Thank you, I appreciate any help you can give.
Dyslexic high school student taking the SAT
We worked through the high school counselor and got some of the needed accommodations but not all of them on the SAT. In our situation the accommodations turned out to be enough. Has your son taken the PSATs yet? That is a bit of a guide on how to proceed on the tests. Have you considered if the ACT would be a better test for your son? Also not all top colleges require SATs/ACTs. Our pediatrician told us some schools (including Stanford) reserve some spots for strong students with learning differences. If your child goes to BHS, we found talking to Angela Price extremely helpful in terms of the testing and also how to handle the learning differences in the applications. anon
Hi-I'm sorry that you're dealing with this! You may have already gone this route, but I wanted to suggest that you contact DREDF for advice ( It would be great if you could post any info that you get. Good luck. I'm right behind you!

Applying for accommodations on the SAT

Jan 2012

I'm interested in hearing about people's experience in applying for and getting accommodations on the SAT through Berkeley High School and the College Board, based on a current educational assessment recommending same. I've read the process the College Board has on-line, but I wonder what advice you'd have for me based on your experience?

like...what do they need/want to see to grant extra time, for instance?

is there an approach to making 'the case' that is most likely to get the accommodation? is it an efficient process? who at Berkeley High processes these? any other advice for me for getting this done in a timely manner? my son is a junior right now. thanks. the mom

Our experience in getting accomodations for the SAT or ACT was that it was not difficult if you have previously obtained a detailed report showing the myriad of tests administered for disability by educational -psychological testers such as UC Berkeley or any other certified educational psychologist. Just make sure that you give yourself enough time before the SAT for ETS to process the application.

In our case, our child already had a 504 plan in place starting sophomore year, which detailed the appropriate accomodations needed. I am glad we followed this path because it has been helpful for college. The BHS counselors than packaged up the reports, signed off on the forms that we downloaded from SAT/ACT and mailed them in the self-addressed envelopes we provided to ETS & ACT. Be aware that it takes a while for ETS and ACT to act on the request...but it was definately worthwhile in our case.

Not sure how difficult this would be based on just using BHS testing or if you are just starting the whole testing process. On the other hand, if your child would benefit from accommodations, I recommend the process. Hope that answers your question annonymous

I was able to successfully gain accommodations for my student for both the SAT and the ACT. This was crucial to her success on both tests and made a huge difference in the scores as she took the SAT without extra time once, so we could see the difference which was large. The process was straightforward. You must work with the student's BHS counselor (who has and controls the necessary paperwork) and I presume the student must already have accommodations for extra time on tests, based on previous testing and accommodations, through a 504 plan or I suppose an IEP. (Mine had a 504.) If your student does not already have accommodations for extra time on school tests, I think it might be hard to get it for SAT or ACT.

The counselor is key. Because no one at BHS ever gave my student a hard time about getting a 504 in the first place (due to documented testing & accommodations throughout elementary and middle school), the process went smoothly although my persistence was necessary. We had BHS counselor Diane Colborn to thank for this intelligent and reasonable original response to granting the 504 plan early in 9th grade. Subsequent counselors - a different one every year, each one a reasonable person - granted the 504 each fall. Teachers were cooperative. I now hear that some counselors - Mr. Smith in particular - are digging in their heels and refusing to grant 504's for no particular reason. If this is true, file a BUSD complaint today and get the 504. It is the gatekeeper for further accommodations. It costs the district $0. If your student deserves it, it is the law and any counselor who creates a roadblock without cause is breaking civil rights law. Good luck.

p.s. See and think about filing an appeal with OCR if you need to. OCR has ruled against BUSD in other matters so it wouldn't be the first time. Be a tiger if necessary and don't worry about being popular. But as I said, all 4 counselors my student had were fine, reasonable people...but that shouldn't be the determining factor. This is about civil rights law. No one has the right to deny your student their rights without cause. Class of 2011 parent of a successful college freshman

This is not a negotiation or an opportunity to ''make your case'' as a parent or a school. The most important element in requesting accommodations is the documentation compiled by the person who did the educational evaluation. Assuming that the evaluation was done by an experienced professional, they would have done all the proper tests required, gotten the necessary background medical information, and provided the specific detail to support the accommodations they have recommended in the report.

It would probably be useful if the language you use in describing your child's disability matches up to the language used by the evaluator (though yours could be a bit simpler).

It is good to get the request for accommodations done as soon as possible if your child wants to take SATs in the spring. Should the College Board reject your child's request for accommodations, you would probably have to ask your evaluator to provide additional documentation if you want to appeal the decision. The evaluator should have experience in this process. Anonymous

I would talk with your school's SSD Coordinator. The SSD Coordinator can verify if your child meets the College Board's criteria and that your documentation meets their guidelines (that doesn't mean you still can't apply online yourself). If it's a new evaluation and your child doesn't have a 504 or an IEP it can be more difficult to get SAT/ACT accommodations. If it is less than three school years before their request for accommodations, students are required to submit documentation for example, for A.D.H.D. that includes results from a professional evaluation, evidence of early and current impairment and if he currently receives accommodations in school.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires the College Board to provide accommodations to students with disabilities. ADA has recently revised their laws so that accommodations are more accessible for individuals that need them. Also, the U.S. Government Accountability Office currently is looking into protecting students rights for testing accommodations. They say this might slightly lessen the strict guidelines and reduce the documentations that is needed.

Some Educational Therapists say the ACT can be better for students with certain language base disabilities.

Form: SAT for March 10 - Deadline Jan 20 SAT for May 5 - Deadline April 13

My son did not go to Berkeley but I can give you a bit of our process.

When we applied for accommodations originally, we weren't denied but we were asked for more test info. We tried to find out what that meant. Every call we made was not helpful to say the least. The people we talked to on the regular 866 line ranged from demeaning to incompetent and only when we talked to someone at the disabilities office itself (a number we got from someone at a conference) did anyone even know that there were guidelines for physical disability which is what my son has. I have since lost that # and name.

But I do have info about the SSD # which I had to call at a different time. I never found that # online. It is in the SAT registration print booklet however. The person I talked with at the SDD office was competent, pleasant and sped the process up instead of being obstructionist. My impression is that they are people with info rather than gatekeepers.

So the # of the SSD office is 1-609-771-7137.

I would call them and see if they can be more specific with you about what kinds of testing are needed to support the use of extra time. They will not be able to directly answer if the testing you already have for your child is enough but you could ask more general questions.

I do remember that they do have guidelines for specific disabilities but only the people in the disabilities office itself seem to know that.

So what the testing you submit consists of and who does it is going to depend on what your child's presenting issues are. I think this is the relevant section from College Board: A specific diagnosis is made by a person with professional credentials/certification appropriate to make the diagnosis(es) (e.g., psychiatric disability: psychiatrist/ psychologist; LD: educational/neuro/clinical psychologist; visual disability: ophthalmologist).

As an example, we used opthamologists' reports for my son's visual issues (to ask for the use of a computer) but I know that some of the other visual/learning tests had been administered to him by a psychologist also.

If you need cognitive testing (i.e WISC or something similar) to substantiate a learning disability, the testing does need to have been done within the last 3 years. Chiliconmom

The place to start is with the guidance counselor; you should be able to set up a meeting for you, your child, and the counselor. You will need to give the counselor a copy of the evaluator report. Anonymous

My son applied for accommodations to take the SAT last year. He needed a computer for the essay portion of the SAT, as he has a handwriting difficulty. It has been a rocky road; but, hopefully, that won't be the case for other students in the future.

You apply for the accommodations via your child's counselor. The counselor applies online with the college board, and you will be notified by the college board if you receive accommodations. My son had a 504 Plan for handwriting, and we submitted some extra evidence of his struggles and he was granted the accommodation to use a computer by the College Board. However, when he went to take the test, his test was locked up in the mailroom. Not a pretty picture. Long story short: BHS acknowledged their error, (and paid for his first SAT),and after several phone calls, many email letters, and one meeting, the school has tweaked their system. Now, when you apply for accommodations via the counselor, the counselor will give you a letter, letting you know that, if you receive accommodations, you must contact the testing coordinator at least 10 days in advance, to make sure that the accommodations that your child received will be in place for him/her. Once, we learned about the testing coordinator, my son was able to take another SAT and his AP tests with the necessary accommodations. I have heard of and known other students who did get accommodations, especially for extra time, and I have no idea of the difficulty of obtaining them. Berkeley Special Education Parents Network might be a good resource. Check them out: Please feel free to contact me if you have any more questions, (but I am hardly an expert!!), Just a parent, Diana