Extended-Time Testing For The ACTs, SATs & College


Extended-Time Testing For The ACTs, SATs & College

Extended-Time Testing For The ACTs, SATs & College


Many students with ADHD, learning disabilities including dyslexia, other psychological disorders or medical disorders benefit from having extended time for high-stakes tests like the ACTs and SATs. Because of the demands of the Educational Testing Service and other testing groups, a good evaluation for extended time is highly comprehensive and not only includes test results, but a detailed history of all the student’s academic difficulties, as well as previous attempts at remediation … going right back to preschool. The reason for this is that the ACTs/SATs require absolute knowledge that this student has a real disability and that the current testing is not a phony attempt to give this student an “advantage.”

Once the child reaches eleventh grade, most of the educational testing companies have difficulty believing that their disability has not been discovered earlier. Hence, if parents do not receive a formal psychological evaluation by eleventh grade their chances of receiving extended time are now greatly diminished. It can happen, but only with excellent documentation. Of course, the best documentation would be that of an IEP or 504 that existed in the child’s past. Alternatives to that include records or narratives from earlier teachers, therapists or tutors.

Extended time is a number of accommodations a student with a legitimately-diagnosed disability can receive. Other typical accommodations include extended movement breaks during long tests, the privilege of taking the test in a solitary noise-free environment, or in rare cases a reader, monitor or a scribe can be utilized.

The specifics of this article also pertain to other testing boards, such as those for the MCATs (medical school) or LSATs (law school) or even those that give tests qualifying people for certain professions, such as accountants or realtors. One will generally find that the higher the status of the profession (e.g. medicine) then the fussier and more demanding the testing board will be. Hence, those bodies require a higher-detailed report not only documenting test scores but how the student’s own disability directly impairs specifics of their testing abilities.

Testing itself requires a minimum of four sessions with the first one being a detailed history taking going right back to the parents’ own history and complications with birth.

Two 2-hour testing sessions involve the administration of the usual triumvirate of psychoeducational tests including IQ, achievement (math, reading, writing) and processing (auditory, visual, logic and memory) plus focus and/or personality tests if needed.

Many test boards require additional reading tests to show that extended-time testing will indeed be beneficial.

Following these sessions a detailed report (likely 12 pages) will be prepared incorporating all of the above data. That report will first be presented verbally to parents and student with the additional hope of teaching the student how to study to best benefit their weaknesses, then the recommended accommodations are also discussed.

Note that Dr. Eisenberg does not like to begin this comprehensive testing unless there is a reasonable chance that indeed the student will be accepted for accommodations by the testing boards. Hence, before taking the case, a short telephone interview will take place. In short, testing for accommodations with the high-stakes tests (SATs, ACTs, MCATs, LSATs and others) is a very detailed and thorough process that must take into mind the specific requirements of the student’s test board. This type of testing must be done right with specific attention to the student’s early history. Should the testing be completed correctly and presented in the manner that the test board requires, the student then has an elevated chance of receiving these precious accommodations.

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