Legal Rights & SAT Accommodations


"The College Board denied my daughter’s request for accommodations on the SAT, even though she has a 504 Plan. What’s our next step?"


Having a 504 Plan or an IEP is no longer a guarantee that accommodations will be granted for the SAT. Read the denial letter closely, then request a new evaluation that specifically addresses the accommodation you’re requesting. For example, if you’re asking for extended time, the report should detail your daughter’s slow processing speed. If you’re asking for the use of a word processor, it should key in on a diagnosis of dysgraphia or slow fine-motor skills.

You can ask the high school to conduct the new evaluation, but a private assessment completed by an educational therapist is more likely to give you the detail and support needed to convince the College Board to reverse its decision. Ask the guidance counselor, the special-education coordinator, or another member of your 504 team who knows your daughter well to follow up with a letter to the College Board explaining why she receives accommodations at school — and how she has been helped by them. Your goal is to establish that the accommodations are essential if the exam is to be a fair evaluation of your child’s aptitude, and that denying accommodations is tantamount to discrimination against someone who has a disability.

My experience is that the College Board requires at least 30 days to process an appeal. Factor in the time it will take to get the new evaluation and materials from your daughter’s school, and you should probably start working on this now if your daughter plans to take the SAT next fall.

For more information, including the deadlines by which you need to request accommodations for each SAT testing date, go to

Since Robert Tudisco was diagnosed with ADHD, he has researched and written extensively on the subject of special education law and disability advocacy, and now specializes in the area as a practicing attorney. He is a former Executive Director of the Edge Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides specialized coaches for students with ADHD and Executive Functioning Impairment. He has served on the National Board of Directors of CHADD and is a former Vice President of ADDA. He is a frequent resource for the media, including CBS News, New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, ABC News, The BBC, The Today Show, CNN, USA Today, and The Seattle Times.

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