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College Entrance Exams for Students with Disabilities: Accommodations and Testing Guidelines

Article Summary

Fuller & Wehman (2003) discuss what accommodations and testing guidelines are necessary for students who take the SAT or ACT when applying to college. The purpose of this paper is to give the educational professional a working knowledge of how to counsel the matriculating student and where to find the specific and practical information the student will need to make informed decisions.

The ACT and SAT are two college entrance exams used by many colleges in the United States to make admission decisions about who will and will not be accepted into college. Fuller & Wehman (2003) report, "Accommodations to students with disabilities have evolved over the years into four broad categories generally accepted and available on both the ACT and SAT, although there are variations within the two companies."

The accommodation classes include:

  • extended time,
  • alternative format,
  • alternative location, and
  • adaptive equipment.
The qualifying process for requesting and receiving accommodations is similar between SAT and ACT. Fuller & Wehman assert, "Case law continues to evolve in this area and will continue to carve out the policy designed to meet the civil rights requirements of Section 504 and the ADA. The changing faces of accommodations as requested by students and offered by institutions will be measured against these evolving legal norms. The educational professional wanting to serve the best interests of the student with a learning disability owes a certain responsibility to staying current on information affecting the evolving legal issues defining the areas of accommodation."

Fuller & Wehman conclude, "There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that students with disabilities benefit from accommodations (especially extended time) in ways that students without learning disabilities do not. However, with the growing number of students requesting accommodations there is a pronounced fear, even within the testing companies, that students who do not have "real" disabilities are somehow cheating the system." This fear is resulting in new processes designed to remove these suspects, which makes the process of accessing accommodations more difficult. People supporting students with disabilities must be prepared to assist students when requesting accommodations. Professionals should also be prepared to advise the student that accommodations are specific to the individuals limitation imposed by the disability, and assist the student accordingly.


Fuller, W. E. & Wehman, P. (2003). College entrance exams for students with disabilities: Accommodations and testing guidelines. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation,18(3), 191-197.