Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) and Accommodations
for the SAT, PSAT, SAT II - Collegeboards & ACT's

Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) or  Accommodations for College boards
In order to receive accommodations for the PSAT, SAT or ACT, you will need to submit "Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) Eligibility Form" to the College Board Headquarters in New York .  Your high school will have the form (check with your guidance office or special education dept.)  The request must be sent in and approved by the college board, at least 3 months before taking the tests.
The form only needs to be submitted once during a student's high school career, unless they change high schools.

It is important to have documentation of the student disability (by MD or Ph.D)  to qualify for the SAT's and have 504 accommodations in college.
Accommodations are based on assessment of the current impact of the individual's disabilities on his or her academic performance when the student is entering college.

Current - meaning the evaluations completed within the last 5 years for LD, last 6 months for psychiatric disabilities, or
last 3 years for ADHD and all other disabilities.
(NOTE: this requirement does not apply to physical or sensory disabilities of a permanent or unchanging nature

You will also need documentation that shows what accommodations the student received during their years in high school (in their IEP or  504's).

(Apparently, approval of accommodations tends to shift back and forth over the years. )

Here is a link to the eligible webpage:

Once the form is processed, students will receive a letter from the College Board or ACT approving the student's specific accommodations (within 1-2 weeks).  Each time a student registers for a College Board or ACT test, they attach a copy of the letter to their registration; if they register online, they will need to provide their personal SSD identification number assigned to them in the letter.  If the student receives accommodations, it limits where the student may take the test.
Here is a link to Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) webpage:

One of the common accommodations for these tests is extended time.
There are two choices:
  • 50% more time or
  • 100% more time
  • If the student get 50% more time, it limits where (location) they can take the test.
  • If the student get 100% more time, or they need the use of a computer (for word processing), the test is given on different test dates, at their attending high school, with a proctor (that maybe a teacher, or some other school employee.)
In order to receive the accommodation of extended time for test, or any accommodation, your evaluation reports will be a major consideration.  The evaluation report must include specific recommendations for accommodation, as well as a detailed explanation of why each accommodation is recommended. The evaluator must describe the impact the diagnosed learning disability as well as the degree of significance of this impact for this student.

To view the type of accommodations that are available for students with documented disabilities:

Collegeboard Accommodation webpage
Educational Testing Service (ETS) Accommodation webpage

ACT Test Accommodations (chart)

If the PSAT will be the student's first College Board test, the SSD form should be submitted at least 6 weeks prior to test day to allow for processing and notification. If the SAT is the student's first College Board test, the form must be submitted with the SAT registration by the regular or late registration deadline.

Diagnosis and Functional Limitations

The College Board considers a specific diagnosis of a disability and description of functional limitations (impact on learning resulting from the disability) as fundamental components in determining that a student is eligible for accommodations on College Board tests, and what accommodations appropriately meet the student's individual needs.    View their this section of their website, for a list of tests (including subtests, the college board would except to receive.):

College Board also refers parents to the Educational Testing Service (ETS) website for additional information on what testing and background information is need to have test accommodations approved:

Resources for Test Takers with Disabilities
Reasons Why Documentation is Deemed Insufficient

There was a change in policy on October 1, 2003.  Were the College Board and ACT will no longer identify on the "scores report" which standardized tests were taken by students who required extended test-taking time due to documented disabilities.
(Such special testing
accommodations have been identified on the "score report" by the words "nonstandard administration," a practice commonly referred to as "flagging." The decision stems from a 1999 lawsuit against the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The College Board will continue its process of routine documentation reviews to ensure that the eligibility requirements are being consistently and fairly applied to all students. Link to article post on the ACT website. )
The PSAT is the Preliminary Scholastic Achievement Test. The purpose of a the PSAT is to give the student a chance to become familiar with the content and timing of the test.  It can help prepare the student to take the SAT's in the spring of their 11th grade, junior year. The practice is just a wake-up call to let you know which concepts you have mastered and which areas still need work and maybe get some tutoring.  High school students can take the PSAT in fall (October) of their 10th grade, sophomore year and/or 11th grade junior year.

PSAT is a mini-version of the SAT I ( Scholastic Achievement Test ). It has four 30 minute sections (alternating between verbal and math).  It provides a trial run for students prior to taking the SAT I test as they approach the college selection process. Scores from the PSAT are NOT used by colleges and universities in their selection of students for admission.  (Only the 11th grade PSAT relates in any way to college admission, since the results of that test are used to determine eligibility for National Merit Scholarships. Thus, it is also referred to as the NMSQT or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, See the next section below.)

The PSAT and SAT are similar tests. The same kinds of verbal and math questions are included in both the PSAT and the SAT I.
The same kinds of writing skills questions appear in both the PSAT and the SAT.

Once you have taken the PSAT, you will receive your "Scores" for each section of the test.
  •  If you add your math and verbal scaled scores together and add a zero, you will have an estimated SAT I score.
  •  If you add your math, verbal and writing score together, you will have your "Selection Index."

Don't be discouraged if you thought your score was too low. And don't sit back and think you don't need to work hard if you were happy with your score. Use the spring and summer to get some tutoring and tackle trouble spots, so that you'll be ready to take on the actual SAT.
The National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSQT):
Uses the Selection Index score from PSAT as the initial screening for their scholarship competition. Approximately 55,000 students across the country out of a pool of more than one million will have Selection Index scores high enough to qualify them for recognition and the right to continue on in the competition.
SAT (or SAT I):
The new SAT will be administered for the first time in March 2005 for the high school Class of 2006.
The upcoming changes that are being made include: The former SAT Verbal section will become the SAT Critical Reading section and will no longer include analogies.  Instead, short reading sections will be added to existing long reading passages.
Sentence completion items will remain in this section.  A new SAT Writing section will be added, this section will contain multiple-choice grammar questions as well as a written essay.  The Math section will be expanded to cover three years of high school math. Instead of just covering concepts from Geometry and Algebra I, the new math section will also contain concepts from Algebra II.  In addition, quantitative comparisons will be eliminated.  Eventually it is expected that this test will replace the SAT II writing test.
The scoring will change from a maximum score of 1600 to 2400.
(Fall 2004 will also bring a new PSAT aligned to match changes coming in the SAT, but without the essay portion.)

You can take SAT I as many times as you like, but we suggest limiting it to three times at most. Colleges will use your highest score and often will combine the highest math and highest verbal for admission purposes. But keep in mind that your SAT record is cumulative, so colleges will see all the scores when they are sent.

If your child is applying to a Mass. State college/university, they can be waved from having to submit SAT scores. Just have the high school counselor make mention of it in their cover letter and ask that all other submitted information be considered.

(We know of students who area of weakness was reading, scored low on the SAT 1, 'Critical Reading' section (the old 'Verbal' section), with the supports in high school, had good grades and got accepted at all of the Mass. schools applied to, without submitting SAT's scores.  Even with the low SAT scores, applied to 2 private schools with the high school counselor explanation of the low score, the student got accept to the college.)

The ACT is a college entrance exam similar to the SAT l.  Both tests help colleges predict your chances of success during the freshman year, and most colleges will accept either exam for admissions purposes.  While the SAT l tests contain only math and verbal sections, the ACT also includes sections on Reading and Science Reasoning.
Comparing the SAT and ACT:
  • Both tests allow students to use calculators.
  • Some basic differences between the two tests include:
    • The ACT math includes some trigonometry, the SAT does not.
    • The ACT is very popular in the Midwestern part of the the US.
    • The SAT has a wrong answer penalty; the ACT does not.
    • The SAT questions within a particular set appear in order of difficulty, not true on the ACT.
    • The SAT is not all multiple choice, the ACT is all multiple choice.


The SAT II (or the subject test) are made up of 22 different subject tests covering five general areas:

                 English,  history and social studies,  math,  sciences,  and  languages.

They help colleges compare the academic achievements of students from different schools where preparation and academic backgrounds may vary. (Beginning in the fall of 2002, the College Board eliminated "Score Choice" and students can no longer review their SAT II scores before releasing them to colleges and scholarship programs.)
Most competitive colleges require the SAT II.  Check the colleges your student is interested in applying, to find out which subject test (SAT II) they are requiring, if any.

Thank you to several of PAC parents who attend meeting on PSAT/SAT's and our parents who already gone through the process with their student.

section divider