Guest post: College Admissions Test Accommodations: How to Apply
I’m very pleased to present this guest post from Jenn Cohen, an expert in helping students with ADHD and/or learning disabilities prepare for taking the college admissions tests. I met Jenn at the Learning Disabilities Assocation of America annual conference in February, where she made a presentation titled “Wired Life: Online Tutoring for LD/ADHD Students.”
Her post has lots of useful information for anyone going down this path! Follow the links at the end for more of Jenn’s insights and to explore using her services for your college-bound student.
College Admissions Test Accommodations: How to Apply
I often find that parents who know the ins and outs of their student’s IEP’s/504’s don’t know where to start when it comes to applying for accommodations for the SAT and ACT. Just because a student receives accommodations in school does NOT mean he or she will receive the same accommodations on these tests. Here are a few tips for getting started:
- Make an appointment with your child’s school counselor or designated test accommodations representative. In almost all cases, the school will submit the application, but it’s usually up to parents to get the ball rolling. While many schools will automatically request accommodations for the PSAT (which most schools offer to all students as a matter of course), don’t assume that because they initiated the application with the SAT/PSAT that they will do the same with the ACT.
- If your child has not had updated diagnostic testing within the last few years, you should strongly consider getting a new evaluation. Both test organizations like to see recent clinical reports (especially the ACT). If your child plans to seek accommodations in college, you will want to have new assessments anyway, so get an appointment!
- Start early! I can’t emphasize this enough. Ideally, you will submit an application for accommodations at least several months prior to your planned test date. Compiling documentation, such as clinicians’ reports, IEP/504 records and teacher letters, can be time consuming, and if you need updated psychoeducational testing, getting an appointment can take several months. Plan accordingly.
- Strategize about which accommodations to request. Most commonly, your child’s school will recommend asking for the same accommodations he/she receives in school. However, in some cases additional accommodations may be appropriate. Frequently requested accommodations include extended time (either 150% or 200% time), small group or individual testing and testing over multiple days. Dyslexic students may also ask for a reader and a large print test booklet. Dysgraphic students may request a computer to type essays. Other appropriate accommodations may also be considered. Remember that the accommodations you request must be supported by the documentation, and be judicious in what you ask for. Some, like extended time, may sound useful, but keep in mind that they can also turn an already long test into a marathon.
- If your student is denied on the first request, consider appealing. The ACT in particular can be very stingy with awarding accommodations, so don’t hesitate to appeal if you have solid documentation. However, it is very important that your student NOT take the exam until the appeals process is completed. If he/she takes the test without accommodation and scores in the average range, the test companies will likely deny the appeal.
The accommodations process can be a tricky one, so don’t hesitate to seek out advice from counselors or test prep professionals. You are your child’s best advocate, so don’t drop the ball when it comes to these important tests. Good luck!
Jenn Cohen is owner of Jenn Cohen Tutoring and President and Chief Word Nerd of Word-Nerd.com, an SAT vocabulary website. She specializes in tutoring LD/ADHD students for the SAT, PSAT and ACT. You can find her on Twitter @satprepforadhd.