The SAT and ACT are timed tests, and performing under the pressure of time constraints is often as daunting to students as the content of the tests themselves. Many of my students qualify for extra time–either 50% more time or 100% more time. Here, I’ll cover who’s eligible to receive extra time as well as what kind of documentation is required to obtain it.

If you struggle with time management, get our Ultimate Time Management for Teens and Students online course, if you haven’t already!

Who qualifies for extra time on the ACT and SAT?

Students with learning disabilities or physical disabilities may be eligible for extra time. Some common disabilities include ADD, ADHD, and dyslexia, as well as physical impairments. If you’re interested, here’s a link to the official SAT guide for testing with extra accommodations.

The qualification process takes a LONG time

It’s important to stress that if you believe you qualify for extra time on the SAT or ACT or are interested in obtaining extra time, the process by which you obtain it can take upwards of 8 weeks. With this in mind, it’s important that you start preparing now. It may also be an expensive process due to the fact that a doctor must examine your child and diagnose him or her with a qualifying disability.

Accordingly, make sure you’ve budgeted plenty of time for test prep and college apps.

There’s no longer a red flag or penalty for extra time

This is good news for students who fear that taking advantage of extra time might hurt them if college admissions officers were aware of it. Nowhere on your score report will it mention that you qualified for extra time on the SAT or ACT, and your scores will be looked at no differently than anyone else’s.

Does extended time help or hurt your score?

Research from the College Board suggests that extra time results in a higher score for students with learning disabilities for whom time is a major issue.

However, with many low-scoring and underperforming students, extra time does not make much of a difference at all. Why? Because those students didn’t know the material in the first place, and no amount of extra time is going to teach them concepts they don’t know.

Extra time only helps if you know how to use it

If you qualify for extra time, it’s absolutely essential that you work with a tutor to master unfamiliar concepts or you just might find yourself grasping at straws for twice as long as everybody else. Test day will become an even more arduous marathon than it is under normal time restrictions, so prepare accordingly.

When it comes to time management in high school, planning is everything.

You may not be granted extra time

Don’t assume you qualify. Do the research and take the steps to ensure you qualify. If your learning disability is not deemed as current or you’re not receiving any kind of special accommodations for your high school coursework, your chances of being awarded extra time decrease. If you don’t require extra time for tests in high school, why should the SAT be any different? Again, do your research. It’s also important that you take an approved learning disability test–for a full list, see the College Board’s link here.

What are the requirements for extra time on the SAT and ACT?

The three basic requirements for extra time are:

  1. Having a disability that requires extra time accommodations
  2. Submitting a completed request for accommodations
  3. Professional documentation of the disability

You can access many of the required forms at the College Board’s website, here: Disability Documentation Forms and Other Resources

The biggest hurdle students face when seeking extra time is obtaining documented evidence from a medical professional. Many students and parents seek out amenable doctors to diagnose their students with a disability right before testing season and are disappointed when their applications for extra time are denied. Don’t make their mistake! If you truly believe you qualify for extra time, begin the process of application early and plan to document it in detail!

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That’s it! For more SAT and ACT prep tips, as well as college readiness articles, read the rest of our blog. Looking for 1-on-1 college counseling or SAT or ACT group classes or tutoring? Contact us today!

Additional Resources:
Ultimate Time Management for Teens and Students

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