Does your teen have documented learning difficulties—and struggle with formal testing? Are you concerned that college admission tests like the SAT and ACT may not truly reflect your child’s abilities?
Then consider investigating special test accommodations—such as additional time, extended breaks, large print, or screen magnifiers.
Accommodations don’t make a test easier; they simply allow your teen to better show what he or she knows under conditions more conducive to student success.
The process of applying for accommodations can be a little tricky for homeschoolers, so follow these strategic tips!
1. Start the process early.
Don’t wait until the last minute to sign up your student for an exam or to apply for accommodations. Start this process early—several months before your student’s preferred exam date—because it is quite lengthy and time consuming.
2. Be prepared.
If your child was ever in public or private school, be sure to have or request copies of all their school files. It may be necessary to show a history of your student’s difficulties, with reasons why they need the requested accommodations.
3. Be organized.
Keep all your important documentation and information in a central location, such as a large three-ring binder or a file box. Should further documentation (such as homeschool student education plans, special-education records, medical records, or diagnostic testing) be requested, you will have it readily available.
4. Be creative.
If your child was not diagnosed until high school (or has never been formally diagnosed), then you may have to think creatively in terms of documentation. Gather evidence of your child’s struggles. This may be your own records, curriculum-based tests, student writing samples, or spelling or math papers.
Perhaps you have letters, notes, or progress reports from a coach, music teacher, Sunday school teacher, or co-op teacher showing areas of concern, difficulty, or struggle. Notes, report cards, and progress records from any specialists your teen may have seen when younger (such as a speech pathologist or occupational therapist) can be very helpful, too.
5. Don’t give up.
It may take several submissions of documentation before your student is approved for accommodations. If your initial request is declined, you can appeal by gathering further documentation and resubmitting the application.
The following links will take you to the accommodations information for each major high school test. For detailed guidance from HSLDA on requesting SAT and ACT accommodations specifically, read this post.
- ACT: Accommodations and English Learner Supports for U.S. Students
- SAT: Student with Disabilities
- CLT: Classic Learning Test Disability Requirements
- PSAT/NMSQT: Taking the PSAT/NMSQT and PSAT 10 with Accommodations
- AP Exams: Testing Accommodations
If you are an HSLDA member and experience problems obtaining access to information, forms, or assistance in the application process, contact our Special Needs Consultants—we are glad to help! If you have provided adequate documentation and have been denied extended time or other appropriate accommodations, please contact our legal team.