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Head Injuries

To take College Board exams with accommodations, students with head injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, must request accommodations from the College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD).

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Accommodation requests must be documented. Make sure your documentation meets these seven criteria:

Diagnosis Clearly Stated

Short-Term Injuries and Conditions

Most students without a diagnosed disability are ineligible for accommodations through SSD. To learn about assistance for students with short-term injuries or conditions that affect their ability to take the SAT, an SAT Subject Test, or an AP Exam, see Temporary Medical Conditions.

Documentation should state the specific head injury as diagnosed. Provide a full description of the injury, including answers to these questions:

  • How was the student injured?
  • What was the date of injury?
  • Which area was affected? (Provide the site of the lesion, bleed, etc.)
  • In the case of concussions with long-standing sequelae, did the student lose consciousness? For how long?

The diagnosis should be made by someone with appropriate professional credentials; should be specific; and, when appropriate, should relate the disability to professional standards.

Information Current

Many head injuries heal over time. Documentation must be current because accommodation needs change as the impact of head injuries on brain functioning changes. The age of acceptable documentation depends on the following:

  • Disabling condition
  • Current status of the student
  • Specific accommodation request

Include updates where appropriate. 

Because concussions have a normal course of recovery, documentation should include symptom progression during and after the recovery phase, per best practice.

History Presented

Provide relevant educational, developmental, and medical history in support of the head injury diagnosis and the functional limitation. Information about the student’s history of receiving school accommodations and current use of accommodations helps the College Board understand the nature and severity of the student’s disability and the need for accommodations. Teacher observations are often helpful as well; they can be recorded on the Teacher Survey Form (.pdf/240KB).

Diagnosis Supported

Documentation should describe the comprehensive testing and techniques used to arrive at the head injury diagnosis. Provide the evaluator’s full report, including the following:

  • Copies of test results used to evaluate the injury
  • A summary of neuropsychological, cognitive, and achievement testing used as well as evaluation results
  • A narrative summary
  • Standard/scaled test scores and percentiles for all subtests
  • A description of current/residual symptoms (including their frequency, intensity, and duration)
  • Detailed medical information relating to the student's needs, including the effect of medication or treatment on the student's disability

Common Diagnostic Tests lists frequently used tests.

Functional Limitation Described

Explain how the head injury currently impacts the student’s daily functioning and ability to participate in College Board exams. For example, does the student work more slowly than other students? Is the student able to read the test? Write an essay?

Functional limitation can be documented in a variety of ways:

  • Psychoeducational evaluations, including both test scores and narrative.
  • Standardized test scores, including standard and scaled scores. Use national norms to support both the diagnosis and functional limitation.
  • Summary of the student's developmental, educational, and/or medical history.
  • Teacher observations. You may want to use the Teacher Survey Form (.pdf/240KB).
  • Speech and language or occupational therapy evaluations, where applicable.

Recommended Accommodations Justified

Describe the specific accommodations requested and show why they are needed. The reason for requesting a particular accommodation is not always evident from the diagnosis.

Be sure your rationale for specific accommodations focuses on the following:

  • Connection between the student’s diagnosed head injury and the requested accommodations
  • Current needs of the student
  • Reasons requested accommodations are needed on the College Board’s standardized exams

Students requesting extended time should document difficulty taking timed tasks, include the amount of extended time required or the maximum amount of time the student can be tested in a day, and include current scores on timed and untimed/extended time tests.

Students requesting a computer should document problems with writing.

See Accommodation Documentation Guidelines for documentation requirements specific to extended time, computer use, and other typical accommodations.

Professional Credentials Listed

Establish the evaluator’s professional credentials. Evaluators must be authorized by the state in which they practice to administer the necessary tests and to diagnose head injuries.

Appropriate evaluators include the following professionals:

  • Neurologists, psychiatrists, and other licensed physicians
  • Psychologists/educational diagnosticians
  • Neuropsychologists

Related Topics

Who Is Eligible?

Learn how eligibility for accommodations on College Board exams is determined.

Find Out Who’s Eligible

Requesting Approval

If you’re new to SSD, start here for the big picture on getting accommodations on College Board exams.

Get an Overview