The Ivy Coach Daily

June 12, 2023

Getting Extended Time on the ACT and SAT

Getting Extended Time On The ACT And SAT
The College Board and ACT, Inc. do not disclose to colleges if students receive extended time on their exams (photo credit: Namkota).

Originally Published on May 17, 2018:

If you’re the parent of a high schooler who recently came home from taking the SAT or ACT saying something like, “Half the kids at my school receive extra time because of ridiculous supposed disabilities,” know that you’re not alone.

While your child is likely exaggerating that half their school receives testing accommodations, there has been an increase in testing accommodations over the years granted by The College Board, the maker of the SAT and AP exams, and ACT, Inc., the maker of the ACT.

But, no, half of a high school’s student population is unlikely receiving extended time. It can just seem that way sometimes. In social psychology, they call that confirmation bias — seeing instances that confirm one’s hypothesis while ignoring examples that disprove it.

How to Receive Extra Time on the SAT or ACT

As Lewak reported in her piece that is very on brand for The New York Post, “Both the ACT and the College Board say more than 90 percent of those seeking accommodations are successful. To get extra time, parents can pay thousands of dollars to have their child evaluated for a learning disorder by a private neuropsychology evaluator, typically a psychologist of some sort. If they’re not successful, they’ll often try a different psychologist, ponying up thousands more dollars. Common diagnoses include ADHD and processing issues. The evaluation is sent to the school, where it’s typically accepted. In the unlikely event it’s not, some parents hire a lawyer to appeal.”

Who Qualifies for Extra Time on the ACT and SAT?

Students with documented disabilities that lead them to work more slowly than their peers qualify for extended time on the ACT and SAT. Both The College Board and ACT, Inc. meet demonstrated needs in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the Section 504 Rehabilitation Act.

SAT and ACT Testing Accommodations on the Rise

A few years ago, in 2019, the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal highlighted nefarious parents whose testing accommodations made it possible for a law-breaking test proctor to change these students’ exam answers.

But plenty of students receive suspect testing accommodations on the SAT and ACT whose test answers aren’t being changed by a law-breaking proctor. In fact, the Varsity Blues scandal raised awareness about the prospect of receiving extended time. Thus, although The College Board and ACT, Inc. have been tightlipped since 2019 on the percentage of students receiving extended time, it would not be surprising if these numbers are further on the rise.

As Doree Lewak reported in a 2018 piece on extended time on the SAT for The New York Post, “The ACT says roughly 5 percent of students taking the test receive accommodations, most commonly for extra time. Prior to 2003, it was less than 2 percent. The College Board, which administers the SATs, along with the PSATs and AP exams, says it’s also seen an uptick in accommodations in recent years — from 1.4 percent in 2012 to 3 percent last year.”

So, yes, testing accommodations for the ACT and SAT are rising, but even that data doesn’t paint the whole picture. Dare we state the obvious, but it’s not as though the percentage of students receiving testing accommodations in New York is equal to that in Oklahoma. Unsurprisingly, New York parents are securing those accommodations at a much higher clip!

If you’re a New York parent, likely, more than 5% of students at your child’s school are receiving extended time on the ACT or SAT — because New Yorkers, well, they know how to get a note from a psychologist just as they know how to register their dog as an emotional support animal.

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