Ask An Expert / Learning

My son needs extra time on the SAT. Does anyone test high schoolers?

Older kids do get tested, but getting accommodations for standardized tests can be tricky

Dominick Auciello, PsyD

After much tutoring my son went from a 470 to a 480 on the reading comprehension portion of the SAT. He says when he reads he reads individual words, not sentences with an idea, and has to read a passage 2-3 times to begin understanding. He clearly needs extra time. Does anyone test high schoolers for accommodations?

High schoolers can absolutely be tested to see if they would qualify for accommodations like extra time for a test, or taking a test in a separate location. But there are some tricky things about older kids and standardized tests when it comes to accommodations. When the College Board (which administers the SAT) or ACT are making decisions about accommodations they have certain criteria. First off, a young person has to have some sort of diagnosed disorder or disability — learning disability, ADHD, physical disability, whatever it might be — that interferes with their ability to take the test. You can’t just get the accommodation of extended time because you are slow, without a professional evaluation of why.

And in most cases there has to be an extended history of that disability for a proper evaluation or diagnosis. It can’t just be something that pops up when you’re taking the SAT. For instance, if I’m evaluating a child I would talk to parents and teachers, and review educational records to find a thread through the years suggesting that this has been a problem.

Finally, in most cases testing companies want to see that the child has been granted the same accommodation at school and that they use the accommodation at school — that the time issue is something that affects his life more generally, and not just how he takes the SAT.