beginning of content:

Educator Tips

Educators play a pivotal role in the College Board’s approval process for testing accommodations. They can request access to SSD Online, the fastest, most efficient way for eligible students with documented disabilities to receive accommodations on the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, Advanced Placement® Exams, PSAT/NMSQT, and PSAT 10. If students take these exams with accommodations without approval from the College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD), their scores will be cancelled.

Know the SSD Facts

  • Most students work with their schools to request accommodations. However, students can request accommodations on their own, using a paper Student Eligibility Form, available from SSD.
  • Some approved accommodations are provided in schools, not SAT test centers. Examples include 100 percent extended time, writer/scribe, reader, and breaks as needed. Students approved for these accommodations generally test at their schools. See After Approval for details.
  • Not all students require accommodations. Some students with disabilities who receive accommodations in school may not require accommodations on College Board exams. And some students who work slowly and are unable to complete a College Board exam in the allotted time do not have a disability that requires accommodations.
  • The College Board’s review process is thorough. Documentation must support both the existence of a disability and the need for the requested accommodations.
  • Some accommodations are administered differently on College Board exams than they are at some schools. For example, students approved for readers or scribes must test in a one- to-one setting. And students approved for extended time on the SAT, PSAT/NMSQT, or PSAT 10 must stay the entire time for which they’re approved, even if they complete a section early. Therefore, students who do not regularly use extended time on classroom tests sometimes prefer not to request it. See Typical Accommodations for details on extended time, extra and extended breaks, computer use, and other accommodations.

Get Accommodations Approved by the College Board

Students must request accommodations from the College Board, and these accommodations must be approved by the College Board before test day. If students use accommodations that have not been approved, their scores will be canceled. Most students who receive accommodations at school and request them from the College Board are approved.

Start Early

It can take about seven weeks for an accommodation request to be processed.

Designate an SSD Coordinator

School SSD Coordinators submit and manage requests for accommodations. Schools can designate more than one SSD Coordinator but only one primary SSD Coordinator. Primary SSD Coordinators are responsible for administering tests to students who are approved for accommodations that cannot be provided in test centers.

Submit Documentation When Required

In some cases, documentation of the student’s disability and need for accommodations must be submitted for College Board review. SSD Online indicates when documentation review is needed. See Providing Documentation to learn when documentation is typically required.

Ensure Documentation Meets All Criteria

Understand the specific documentation requirements for the student’s particular disability and for the accommodations requested. In most cases, detailed documentation of the student’s disability and the need for accommodation is required; a brief doctor’s note or copy of the IEP or 504 Plan is usually insufficient. See Providing Documentation.

Individualize Requests

Every student has individual needs. Don’t request the same accommodations for all students; consider what each student needs based on the impact of his or her disability.

Consider All of the Student’s Needs

Some students need more than one accommodation. For example, a blind student will need not only Braille but also a way to record responses (e.g., a scribe), and possibly a calculator and extended time. When requesting the use of a computer, keep in mind that any assistive technology must be specifically requested. Accommodations for medical assistance, such as permission to take medication or test blood sugar, must also be requested and approved prior to test day. 

Request Only Accommodations Needed on Test Day

Do not request accommodations that the student does not plan to use, even if they are included on the student’s IEP. Keep in mind that most College Board tests are written tests. Accommodations such as an extra set of textbooks or a note-taker will not be needed. It may be helpful to speak to the students and their teachers to determine which accommodations the student needs and uses on tests.

Work with Families and Professionals

Educators will need to consult with others as they gather information and determine the student’s need for accommodations. 

  • If school documentation is not current, ask parents for the most current evaluations and medical examinations.
  • Find out if the transfer student had a formal plan in place before attending your school.
  • Make sure the school’s AP, PSAT/NMSQT, and PSAT 10 testing coordinators know which students are approved for accommodations, which test materials to order, and which arrangements to make.
  • Refer professionals making evaluations to SSD’s Evaluator Tips.
  • Discuss testing accommodations in IEP or 504 meetings, when all knowledgeable people are present.

Help Families Understand the Process

Share these key points to help students and parents understand the College Board’s eligibility requirements and documentation guidelines:

  • The College Board — not the school — determines which accommodations are appropriate for College Board exams. Formal plans, such as IEPs and 504 Plans, are agreements between the school and student and do not guarantee accommodations on College Board exams. While the College Board gives strong consideration to these plans, they are not bound by them.
  • Accommodations may not be needed on College Board exams. Explain any differences between classroom accommodations and College Board accommodations. Help the family understand that not all students complete the SAT and that many students without disabilities become anxious during tests.
  • Families can submit a paper request for accommodations, without the school’s assistance, if you and the family disagree about the need for accommodations.

Educators can also refer families to Student & Family Tips.

Know What You’re Verifying

When SSD Coordinators submit requests for accommodations, they’re asked to certify that the accommodations are needed and that the school has documentation that meets the College Board guidelines. If they submit requests for students who do not meet these criteria, they are putting their school at risk of being placed under review. See Schools Under Review.

Watch the Webinar

Understanding the College Board Accommodations Process provides an overview of the accommodations request process.

Related Topics

Who Is Eligible?

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

Find Out Who’s Eligible

Take Advantage of SSD Online

Educators: Find out what SSD Online is all about, how to get access, and how to use it.

SSD Online