ACT test day can be stressful. For those of use with disabilities, physical impairments, or health-related challenges, it can be even more daunting. The ACT’s official test-maker offers accommodations for students with extra testing needs. This means you can qualify for extra time, braille versions of the test, ergonomic keyboards, and other test modifications. It’s important to know 1) if you qualify for accommodations, 2) what your accommodations will be, and 3) how to submit a request to the ACT to qualify for ACT accommodations.
In an effort to ensure that every student has equal opportunity to take and do well on the ACT, the ACT is committed to assisting those who qualify as described under the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Applications are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
1. Do I qualify for ACT accommodations?
Some accommodations are more common than others. According to the ACT, common reasons for accommodations include:
Learning Disabilities: significant difficulties in acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical skills.
ADHD: persistent patterns of inattention and/or hyperactivity that interferes with functioning.
Psychiatric Disabilities: characterized by different degrees of emotional, developmental, cognitive, and/or behavioral challenges (i.e. obsessive-compulsive, bipolar, generalized anxiety, mood, and post-traumatic stress disorders).
Autism Spectrum Disorder: a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social/communication deficits, repetitive/restrictive behaviors, and a lack of emotional reciprocity.
Visual Impairment: visual acuity that is less than 20/200, or severe visual impairment that is partially improved, but not fully resolved, by corrective lenses.
Hearing Impairment: permanent hearing loss.
Autism, Asperger’s Disorder, Pervasive Development Disorder, or Autism Spectrum Disorder: a disorder with onset during the developmental period that includes both intellectual and adaptive functioning deficits in conceptual, social, and practical domains.
Physical Disabilities / Chronic Health Conditions: a variety of impairments, including cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, asthma, and immune disorders, among others. Must substantially limit one or more major life activities.
Traumatic Brain Injury: disruption of normal brain function as a result of exposure to external physical force.
Accommodations are also available for English learners, whether or not they have a disability.
2. What will my accommodations be?
The ACT has two different categories of testing accommodations: National and Special. After you sign up for the ACT, you will need to opt for one of these categories.
National: National accommodations can be provided at testing centers. These include:
- Extended Time: Test takers can receive up to a 50% time extension, or “time and a half.”
- Wheelchair accessible room
- Large type (18-point font) test booklet
- Approved dictionary
- Assistance marking responses
- Special seating to lip-read
- Sign-language interpreter (for spoken instructions only)
- Use of an approved word-to-word dictionary (for English learners)
Special: Special accommodations are for those with disabilities requiring special assistance that cannot be provided at testing centers. These include:
- Extended time: More than a 50% extension, testing over multiple days, or extended time for the writing portion only.
- Scribe or computer for the writing test
- Alternate test formats (braille, audio, or a reader)
3. How do I submit a request for ACT accommodations?
You’ll need to go through the following three steps in order to get accommodations approved through the ACT:
- Register for the official ACT at act.org. Indicate that you need accommodations or English learner support, and specify which accommodation(s) you need. The ACT will send you an email with instructions once your test registration is complete.
- Pull up the email sent from the ACT detailing your accommodation instructions. Fill out the Consent to Release Information form, and forward both the form and email to your school official.
- Your school official will submit your accommodation request to the ACT. The ACT will contact your school with its decision. Your school official will contact you within two weeks to let you know if you’ve qualified for accommodations. Your school can also provide you with a copy of the Decision Notification, an outline of the ACT’s decision about your accommodations.
If your request is approved, you can proceed with your test registration and expect the approved accommodations to be provided on test day.
If your request is not approved, speak with your school official for next steps.