Extra Time Guide: The College Board (SAT / PSAT / APs)
The Basic Requirements
● The student’s testing must be recent (within the last 2 years).
● The student should be using their extended time in school for at least 3–6 months before applying for extended time on the tests, hopefully with an IEP or private school Formal Plan.
● The letter from the student’s evaluator should very clearly connect any diagnosed learning differences with their need for recommended accommodations, referencing test scores and subscores. The more explicit, the better!
● Appeal materials (samples attached at the end of the guide — you can submit these materials with the initial application if desired):
○ Letters from teachers explaining how the student has benefited from/uses extra time, if not included in the original application
○ Letter from a tutor explaining how disability affects the work, along with timed/untimed standardized test results if you have them
○ Letter from the parent contextualizing the history of the student’s learning difference and accommodations
A Calendar for Applying:
Choose a test date for which you’ll receive accommodations. Ideally, this will be a date before you even start prep (like sophomore year). That way, you’ll be able to lock in accommodations for future use and prep accordingly.
At least 6 months but not more than 2 years before desired test date:
[ ] Have student evaluated through in-school or private testing
After receiving neuropsych report:
[ ] share report with school learning specialist and indicate desired accommodations based on report
At least 3–6 months before desired test date:
[ ] Begin utilizing extra time in school
At least 8–12 weeks prior to test date:
[ ] If it’s your first time applying for accommodations, notify the counseling office you’re planning to apply for a test date and ask for them to begin preparations
[ ] Have one or more teachers fill out Teacher Survey Form and/or write letter(s) if needed (coordinate with school)
At least 4 weeks prior to test date:
[ ] Register for the SAT if you have been approved
[ ] Double check admissions ticket to confirm your location and accommodations (both tests)
Who is responsible for applying?
For the PSAT and AP Exams:
● Your school. Only they can register a student for the PSAT or AP Exams.
For the SAT and SAT Subject Tests:
● You, in tandem with the school. The school must apply for accommodations first, then the student is responsible for registering for the SAT through their online College Board account.
What you need to do:
For the PSAT and AP Exams:
● If the student has already been approved for accommodations on a previous PSAT, just let the school know and provide them with the student’s SSD number (see below for more info).
● If your student is applying for accommodations for the first time, the school will need to know — if they already have documentation on the student’s learning differences that is valid (see below) you will need to contact your student’s counselor, complete a consent form and forward it to the school, and then the student’s counselor will complete the application process.
For the SAT and SAT Subject Tests:
● If the student has already been approved, register online with the student’s SSD number.
● If your student is applying for accommodations for the first time, you have two options:
○ Working with the school (recommended): Similar to the PSAT process, you will submit student documentation to a qualified SSD coordinator (most schools have at least one in the counseling department), sign a consent form, and they will then apply for accommodations.
○ If your school does not have a qualified SSD coordinator, you can complete the College Board Student Eligibility Form (link is also below), following the Instructions for Completing the Student Eligibility Form— if this is the case, please contact us so we can help you!
If the school does not have documentation for the student’s learning differences, you should schedule a meeting with their counselor, and/or submit their full documentation and discuss the specific accommodations you are requesting, and then begin the application process above.
The appropriate counselor will be registered as a Coordinator with College Board’s SSD (Services for Students with Disabilities) and will submit the student for accommodations. They will be emailed prior to the test date when approval decisions are made. Students can be approved for accommodations one of two ways:
● School Verification: The SSD Coordinator verifies that the student meets the College Board’s criteria and that the disability documentation meets the Guidelines for Documentation. Note that some accommodation requests cannot be verified by schools.
● Documentation review: the College Board reviews a student’s disability documentation and approves or denies the requested accommodations.
In addition, the school and the student will both receive an Eligibility Letter containing an SSD Eligibility Code, which they can then use for registration on the SAT and AP tests, as well as any future PSATs.
According to the College Board’s own updated SSD policies and guidelines here, it states that beginning in January 2017, most students with an IEP, 504 Plan, or other current, formal school-based plan that meets College Board criteria will have their current accommodations automatically approved for College Board exams. College Board criteria for a formal plan (other than an IEP or 504 Plan) include the following:
● Plan was developed using tests or evaluations that 1) are appropriate for the student’s diagnosis and needs; 2) were administered by those who meet state and/or professional guidelines for administering the evaluations and for diagnosing the disability in question; and 3) demonstrate the student’s disability and need for accommodations.
● Plan was created by a group of people who know the student, the meaning of the evaluation results, and the available accommodations. This group may include an SSD coordinator.
The documentation should be detailed — essentially, the documentation should show not only that the student has a learning difference, but that the student requires the specific accommodation under request, and that the disability affects the student’s ability to perform on timed, standardized tests.
In most cases, test scores, including subtest scores, are needed. Doctor’s notes and IEPs/504 Plans/Formal Plans are not sufficient to substantiate a request for accommodations, and conclusive statements without supporting information will not be considered sufficient proof.
The seven guidelines for documentation that the College Board officially lists are:
1. State the specific disability: as diagnosed. Diagnosis should be made by a person with appropriate professional credentials, should be specific, and, when appropriate, should relate the disability to the applicable professional standards, for example, DSM-IV.
2. Be current: According to the College Board, the evaluation and diagnostic testing should have taken place within five years of the request for accommodations. For psychiatric disabilities, an annual evaluation update must be within 12 months of the request for accommodations. For visual disabilities, documentation should be within two years, and for physical/medical, an update must be within one year from the time of the request. See our “Insider Considerations” below for more information on this.
3. Provide relevant educational, developmental, and medical history.
4. Describe the comprehensive testing and techniques used to arrive at the diagnosis. Include test results with subtest scores (standard or scaled scores) for all tests. See Documenting Specific Disabilities on the College Board Site for a listing of frequently used tests and what they measure.
5. Describe the functional limitations: Explain how the disability impacts the student’s daily functioning and ability to participate in the test.
6. Describe the specific accommodations being requested on College Board tests, including the amount of extended time required or the maximum amount of time the student can be tested in a day, if applicable. State why the disability qualifies the student for such accommodations on standardized tests.
7. Establish the professional credentials of the evaluator (for example, licensure; certification; area of specialization).
Your learning specialist/evaluator should be able to make sure you have all the required documentation — they are usually quite experienced with this and will let you know if you are missing key information.
If the student has not been tested but you feel they may have undiagnosed learning differences, ask your school to recommend a source for a “Psychoeducational Analysis” — if they have an establishment they are used to working with, communication will be particularly efficient.
When should you begin the application process?
According to the College Board, you should allow 7 weeks for the approval process and comprehensive review. That said, if you have completed testing and have extra time accommodations in school, budget 2–4 months. If you haven’t completed testing yet, you should budget 6–10 months. (Read more on our FAQ).
For the PSAT (usually mid-October) the College Board requires all documentation be submitted by 8 weeks beforehand, but we recommend you submit as soon as possible to ensure there is adequate time for approval.
For a current list of deadlines for all PSAT and AP test extended time approval, visit:http://professionals.collegeboard.com/testing/ssd/application/dates
START EARLY! Once a student is approved for accommodations by the College Board, they do not need to be approved again. Knowing if your child will be approved is a huge factor in deciding which test format will be strongest for them. They can apply as early as the October PSAT sophomore year.
The more recent the testing information, the more likely a student will be approved: this goes hand in hand with the earlier recommendation — if they were tested in 8th grade and are applying as a sophomore, this makes the testing more recent than if they wait until they are a junior. Although the College Board officially states that testing must be within 5 years of the application, they are more likely to approve more recent testing.
The longer the student has been using the accommodations in school, the better chance they have of being approved for them — if your student has been approved for accommodations and has not been using them in school, this can hurt their chances of being approved, despite College Board’s official statement! If your child is not using their accommodations, they should begin doing so immediately.
If the student has never used the accommodations in school testing prior to their application, it will be more difficult for them to be approved.
The College Board accepts several additional documents for consideration other than the official required documents. While you want to make sure you include the student’s relevant educational history and use of extended time as well as a detailed description of the disability and how it affects the student, you can also submit these up front, or after accommodations have been denied if you didn’t do this the first time. The following documents are recommended if feasible:
● One or more Teacher Survey Forms, which outline how the student’s disability affects their performance in school, and how much of their accommodations they use
● An evaluation from an Occupational Therapist, Psychologist, EF Coach etc. (not required)
● Comparisons of the student’s performance under timed and untimed conditions (can be provided by the tutor)
● Student Letter, in which the student speaks personally to their need for extended time, and their emotional/mental experience with and/or without it. See sample here.
● Parent letter. See sample here.
● Tutor letter. See sample here.
If all else fails, you can also file a complaint with the Department of Justice and cite that in your letter. The DoJ will likely decline to act, but the fact that you have a complaint on file can strengthen your case. It doesn’t take long — you can do it online here.
Finally, be persistent! The SAT/ACT purposely uses intimidating language in their rejection letters, and many parents (and even some experienced counselors!) take an initial rejection as a sign of defeat. However, we have found through experience that if you are consistent and persistent in sending new materials to the SAT/ACT Accommodations board and advocating for the student’s needs, the application is almost always successful, even if it takes one or two appeals.