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Physical/Medical Disabilities

To take College Board exams with accommodations, students with physical or medical disabilities must request accommodations from the College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD). Note that any changes in the administration of the test must be requested and approved by the College Board. This includes permission to eat food, take medication, test blood sugar, and use medical equipment during the test. 

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Students and Parents: Requesting accommodations through your school is the best way to get College Board approval for testing with accommodations. Find out why requesting accommodations through your school is the best way to get College Board approval for testing with accommodations. >

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 physical or medical disability as diagnosed and provide a detailed description of the student’s condition. 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 

Because disabilities change over time, documentation must be up to date. For physical and medical disabilities, include the initial evaluation and an evaluation update. 

The acceptable age of documentation depends on the disabling condition, the current status of the student, and the specific accommodations requested, but in general the update should be performed within 12 months of the accommodation request. If the initial evaluation is under a year old, no update is required. 

History Presented

Provide relevant educational, developmental, and medical history in support of the 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 physical or medical disability and the need for accommodations. 

Include the following details:

  • Historical information about the onset of the impairment
  • A description of the student's current abilities 
  • The impact of in-school accommodations on the student’s performance 
  • The student’s response to medication and other interventions 

Teacher observations are often helpful as well; they may be recorded on the Teacher Survey Form (.pdf/240KB).

Diagnosis Supported

Documentation should describe the comprehensive testing and techniques used to arrive at the diagnosis. Specific requirements vary depending on the student’s diagnosis, but all documentation should include the following:

  • Copies of testing and reports from medical examinations used to diagnose the student and evaluate the need for accommodations
  • Copies of assessment procedures and evaluation instruments
  • The evaluation results
  • A description of the student’s symptoms, including their frequency, intensity, and duration
  • Detailed medical information about the student's needs
  • The effect of medication or treatment on the student's disability and ability to take College Board test

Most accommodation requests for a physical or medical disability are reviewed by doctors. A brief note from a doctor, or a general description of a diagnosis, is usually insufficient documentation.

Functional Limitation Described

Explain how the physical or medical disability currently impacts the student’s daily functioning and ability to participate in College Board exams. For example, does the student work more slowly than others? How long can the student sit? Is the student able to read the test? Write an essay?

Functional limitation can be documented in a variety of ways:

  • Summary of the student's developmental, educational, and medical history.
  • Teacher observations. You may want to use the Teacher Survey Form (.pdf/240KB).
  • Occupational therapy evaluations, where applicable.
  • Detailed information regarding the frequency, duration, and intensity of the student’s current symptoms.

Recommended Accommodations Justified

Describe the specific accommodations requested, and explain 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 disability and the requested accommodations
  • Current needs of the student
  • Reasons requested accommodations are needed on the College Board’s standardized exams, which are primarily written

Students requesting extended time should document difficulty taking timed tests, 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.

Consider other accommodations as well, such as extra breaks, large-block answer sheets (which do not need to be scanned), and permission for food and medication.  Any changes in the administration of the test must be requested specifically and approved by the College Board. This includes permission to eat food, take medication, test blood sugar, and use medical equipment during the test.

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. For physical and medical disabilities, documentation should generally be provided by a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosed disability. Evaluators must be licensed professionals in an appropriate field and authorized by the state in which they practice to administer the necessary tests.

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