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2017 Welcomes New Testing Policies for Accommodations on the SAT

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The College Board has released a statement outlining some great news about the SAT for English language learners and students requiring testing accommodations. The process for requesting and receiving testing accommodations is becoming much simpler in 2017.


In the past, receiving any sort of accommodation on the SAT or any other College Board test required a lengthy application process. In fact, the process for requesting accommodations for a disability deterred some students from even pursuing the opportunity, whether they were qualified for the accommodations or not.


From start to finish, it could take up to seven weeks, assuming you got all your paperwork right the first time. As the College Board website warned, “School accommodations are not College Board accommodations. No one qualifies automatically.”


This policy, though, is about to change.


Students Requesting Accommodations for a Disability

First, school accommodations will become College Board accommodations. That is, most students who receive accommodations through their school for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan can expect to receive those same accommodations on the SAT. In addition, private school students who have a formal school-based accommodation plan in place can also expect to receive those accommodations on the SAT, assuming the accommodations themselves are College Board approved.


Beginning on January 1, 2017, school testing accommodation coordinators submitting requests for accommodations will only need to answer two questions: 


  • Is the requested accommodation(s) in the student’s plan?
  • Has the student used the accommodation(s) for school testing?  


If the answer to both of the above questions is yes, eligible students can be approved to receive most accommodations on College Board tests, thereby shortening the approval time for accommodation requests and reducing the amount of paperwork and documentation required.


Testing Accommodations for English Language Learners (ELL Students)

English Language Learners — who were typically only sometimes allowed extended time on the SAT in the past — will now be provided with additional accommodations.


Beginning in January 2017, ELL students taking a state-funded SAT during the school day will be provided testing instructions in their choice of several native languages and will also have access to approved word-to-word bilingual glossaries. In the fall of 2017, ELL students will also see extended testing time (up to time and a half) and the opportunity to test in an environment with reduced distractions.

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The College Board Movement Towards Increased SAT Testing Equity

These changes are aligned with other recent efforts by the College Board to increase equity in and improve access to standardized testing for all students. For example, the College Board prides itself on allowing more time per question on the SAT than is allowed on the competing ACT exam, a fact highlighted in the release of the new SAT during spring 2016. Furthermore, a recent partnership with Khan Academy provides all students access to free, personalized SAT practice, something often previously only available as a paid service.


These efforts to level the standardized testing playing field go hand-in-hand with the College Board’s mission to expand access to higher education through connecting students to college success and opportunity.


Making the accommodations request process simpler and more aligned with typical school testing environments opens the door for students whose performance might be adversely affected without accommodations. English Language Learners who will also see improvements to their testing process.


To learn more about the SAT, check out these CollegeVine posts:



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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.