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Dear ADDitude: How Can We Get Accommodations for the SAT/ACT?

“What is the best way to request additional time for standardized tests like the SAT or ACT for a high school student with ADHD?”

ADDitude Answers

In order to receive additional time, or any other accommodation, when taking the SAT, you must get approval well ahead of time. This process can take up to two months, so be sure to request accommodations far enough in advance. You will need documentation of your child’s disability and the need for specific accommodations. For the SAT, an educator can make the request online for you.

The ACT also provides accommodations for students with disabilities. You will need to supply documentation of your child’s disability. The documentation must be from a medical professional and indicate the diagnosis and the fact that the disability substantially limits one or more major life activity. However, you should check with your school, as they will sometimes accept verification from the school as proof of disability. You and a school official must complete the Request for ACT Extended Time National Testing form, sign it, and send it in, along with the printed admission ticket for the test date you selected.

Posted by Eileen Bailey
Freelance writer, author specializing in ADHD, anxiety, and autism

ADDitude Answers

The SAT offers Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). Contact the SSD coordinator at your high school. Usually it is the head of guidance, or a senior guidance counselor who arranges accommodations for the student.

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The SSD coordinator will have the forms you neeed, and will guide you on how to submit them. If you are regularly getting accommodations in high school, and using them, it will not be very difficult to get them on the SATs or other standardized tests.

It can be more difficult if your child is not diagnosed until later in high school. Then, SAT folks are suspicious. The SAT is guided by the Americans with Disabilities Act. They need to provide reasonable accommodations.

The ACTs do not have as rich as structure for this, and often don’t have designated coordinators at each school. Start with your guidance counselor and then go on to the ACT website.

It can take up to seven weeks to get a decision on a disability accommodation. I would allow much more time than that because you may need to appeal the decision. Start applying for accommodations as soon as you know what exams your child will be taking. Give yourself as much time as possible.

Posted by Susan Yellin
Director of Advocacy and College Counseling Services at The Yellin Center for Mind, Brain, and Education, an innovative learning support and diagnostic practice in New York City

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ADDitude Answers

Here’s some specific advice for accommodations and other help for high school students with ADHD:
11 Tips for High School Success
School Accommodations for ADHD Teens: Writing an IEP That Works
Best Resources for School Help & Accommodations

The process of evaluation and drafting formal accommodations can take as long as 3 months, so get the ball rolling right away.

Posted by Penny
community moderator, author on ADHD parenting, mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism

A Reader Answers

If your teen has had extended time as an accommodation on his IEP for many years (I’m not sure if there is a magic number), then he can use that as proof he needs it on the ACT and SAT. There is a lot of documentation to request the accommodation, so start as soon as you can.

Also, your child can qualify for similar supports in college through the university office of disabilities if the necessity is shown in high school.

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Good luck to you and your child!

Posted by Nemo

A Reader Answers

My son has trouble with slower processing speed especially when it comes to reading. That is why I insisted that he get extra time on standardized tests for next year. Luckily, his teacher this year recognized his difficulty and gave him extra time even though it wasn’t stipulated in his IEP.

We also give my son 500 mg of EPA Omega 3 fatty acids daily. It helps his processing speed. His hand writing improves to the point of being legible and he isn’t last to finish every test.

Hope these suggestions are helpful to you.

Posted by Sue H.

A Reader Answers

All accommodations listed in an IEP must legally be followed, no questions asked! If your child doesn’t have an IEP, start the process of requesting one. Our son is able to take tests in a small group setting, have extra time (on timed tests such as standardized tests), have extra breaks, and more.

If it’s something your child needs, do not in any way hesitate to ask. My son’s teacher and I have a good relationship and can easily work out what little things need to be done even though we have the official IEP for the “big things.”

Posted by supportmom