How to Get Your Student With Dyslexia Accommodations on College Entry Exams

by | Apr 29, 2015 | By The Grade | 1 comment

Thank you for joining me on for this 10-day series on Preparing Your Student With Dyslexia for College Success.  To read the whole series, click here.

One major roadblock for dyslexic students trying to get into college is performing well on college entrance exams – either the SAT or the ACT.  Low scores on these tests may not accurately reflect a dyslexic students abilities.  Obtaining accommodations on college entry exams can help kids with learning disabilities perform at their real intellectual ability.

accommodations dyslexia college entrance

Dyslexia advocate, Sally Shaywitz, has been working with colleges across the country to look beyond these scores and so you will find more and more colleges who will overlook a poor score in light of your overall high school portfolio.

Test-Optional Colleges

As previously mentioned in my post on Options for After High School, community colleges do not require SAT or ACT testing and are a viable way to start your student’s college years.

Some schools exempt students who meet grade-point average or class rank criteria while others require SAT or ACT scores but use them only for placement purposes or to conduct research studies.  Check with the school’s admissions office to learn more about specific admissions requirements.

There are more and more Test Optional Colleges.  For a list of schools that do not use SAT or ACT Scores for admitting students into bachelors degrees programs => click here <=  This is not a comprehensive list.  You are encouraged to contact any college that your child may be interested in and ask for that school’s specific policy regarding college entrance testing.

How to get Accommodations on the SAT

If your dyslexic student is planning on taking the SAT, accommodations are available.

It is important to allow plenty of time to apply for accommodations.  The College Board says requests can take approximately 7 weeks to process.  They also recommend starting the application process in your freshman year.  Students can use any accomodations awarded through out their high school careers.


Eligibility is determined by a review of your student’s documentation.  Documentation requirements include psycho-educational reports (testing) describing the functional limitations of the disability.  For a complete list of which tests are accepted for this documentation requirement, click here.

Functional Limitations

Having a disability does not automatically entitle your student to accommodations.  There must also be proof that the disability requires accommodations.  Additional documentation should include proof that your student used accommodations in high school and needed them to succeed.  A student’s functional limitation must result from his or her disability.  It describes how the student’s daily functioning is affected, as well as how the student’s disability affects his or her ability to take College Board tests.  A student’s functional limitations should be described in his or her documentation.  For more information on documenting functional limitations => click here <=

For more information on applying for accommodations on the SAT for your dysleixc student visit the CollegeBoard web site.

 How to Get Accommodations on the ACT

Accommodations on the ACT test is also available.  Students can apply for extended time or special testing which includes things like even more time, or further asisstance like marking answers or providing a reader who will read the test to your student.

Visit the ACT web site for complete instructions on how to apply and what accommodations are currently available.

Differences Between the SAT and the ACT

Understanding the differences between the two college entrance exams may help you as you plan for which test your student will take.

ACT ………………………………………
Philosohpy Primarily focuses
on general reasoning and
Based more closely
on high school curriculum than is the SAT
Popularity Most popular on the East and West Coasts More popular in the Midwest
Acceptance Every US 4-year college or universitywillaccepteitherexam Every US 4-year college or university will accept either exam
Structure 10 short sectionsQuestions get progressively harder 5 long sectionsQuestions get progressively harder in Math but questions are randomly ordered in all other sections
Length 3 hours 45 minutes 3 hours 25 minutes
Scoring 1/3 Critical Reading1/3 Math1/3 Writing (grammar and essay)Essay is not optional – constitutes 28% of Writing ScoreTotal Max Score:  2400 1/4 English1/4 Math1/4 Reading1/4 ScienceEssay is optional – check with college requirementTotal Max Score:  36
Score Deductions For every incorrect answer, 1/4 of a point is deducted No penalty for marking incorrect answers
National Average 1509 21


Have you had a student with a learning disability take a college entrance exam.  What tips can you share?

Please join us here tomorrow when we’ll look at the Understanding the College Admissions Process for Students With Dyslexia.

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1 Comment

  1. Wendy

    The SAT is now based on a 1600 point total for the mandatory portion, and the Essay portion is now optional.


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