SAT Accommodations: What You Need to Know

SAT test day can be stressful. And for those of us with disabilities, physical impairments, or other health-related challenges, it can be even more daunting. College Board, the SAT’s official test-maker, offers accommodations for those whose disabilities impede their ability to test under standard conditions. This means you can qualify for extra time, braille versions of the test, ergonomic keyboards, and other modifications. It’s important to know 1) if you qualify for accommodations, 2) what your accommodation will be, and 3) how to submit a request for SAT accommodations.

1. Do I qualify for SAT accommodations?

The College Board lays out a specific set of criteria to qualify for accommodations. These include the following:
  • 1. A documented disability.

    Documentation could be a doctor’s report, a psychoeducational evaluation, or another current documentation of disability.

  • 2. Participation in a College Board exam is impacted.

    This means that you’re unable to take the exam without accommodations.

  • 3. Requested accommodation is needed.

    You should be able to prove that the accommodation you request is necessary. For example, if you ask for extra test time on the SAT, you should have documentation showing that you need extra time to perform timed tasks.

  • 4. Accommodation is received on school tests.

    In general, the accommodation you’re requesting for the SAT should be one you also receive on exams in school. That being said, you won’t automatically qualify for SAT accommodations just because you receive that accommodation in school. You’ll need to submit documentation to the College Board to find out if you qualify.

2. What will my SAT accommodations be?

Available accommodations include, but are not limited to, the following:
Extended time: Includes time and a half, double time, or more.
Computer use for essays: Allows use of word processors to record essay and short-answer responses.
Extra and extended breaks: Includes breaks between test sections and extended breaks.
Reading and seeing accommodations: Includes large-print test books, braille books, braille graphs, MP3 audios, readers, and magnifiers.
Four-function calculator: Approved for use on the math section for students with specific disorders involving mathematical calculations.

3. How do I submit a request?

The accommodation approval process takes approximately 7 weeks, so it’s important to submit your accommodation request early. You can submit your request independently or through your school. Most students with documented disabilities call upon the help of a school in order to gain approval.
If you request an accommodation through school, you will need to get in touch with your school’s SSD Coordinator, who will be the conduit between you and the College Board. Contact your school to find out who your SSD Coordinator is. You’ll need to give him/her a copy of the Parent Consent Form, which will allow the SSD Coordinator to move forward with the approval process. Some students with a current Individualized Education Program (IEP), a 504, etc. will be processed without need for further documentation. SSD Coordinators will find out if the accommodations are approve or denied. In the event that more documentation is needed for approval, the SSD Coordinator will be notified.
If you request an accommodation independently, you will need to fill out and mail/fax in the Student Eligibility Form. It’s important to provide all the necessary documentation as early as possible to ensure that your accommodations are approved in time.
Once the accommodations committee has reviewed your application, you’ll be emailed or mailed a letter outlining their decision. If you receive approval, congratulations! The terms and conditions of your accommodation will be outlined in the letter. You’ll only need to apply for these accommodations once; once you’ve received approval, you’ll receive that accommodation on every College Board exam you take until one year after you graduate from high school.
If the accommodations committee denies your application for accommodations, you’ll receive a letter explaining why. The College Board cites three common reasons accommodations are denied:

  1. More information is needed.
  2. The documentation provided do not indicate a need for the requested accommodations. 
  3. The request receives partial approval. 

If your request receives partial approval or you would like to reapply for accommodations, contact the College Board or an SSD Coordinator.