Requesting Accommodations

ACT provides access to the ACT® test through appropriate accommodations based on the examinee's diagnosis and needs. ACT has established policies regarding documentation of an examinee’s disability and approves accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

ACT also uses the following guiding principles in responding to requests for accommodations on the ACT:

  1. Fair: Requirements and procedures for test accommodations must ensure fairness for all examinees, both those seeking accommodations and those testing under standard conditions.
  2. Consistent: Accommodations must be consistent with ADA requirements and appropriate and reasonable for the documented disability.
  3. Valid: Accommodations must not result in an undue burden, as that term is used under the ADA, or fundamentally alter that which the test is designed to measure.
  4. Professional: Documentation of the diagnosis must meet guidelines that are considered to be appropriate by qualified professionals and must provide evidence that the person’s impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities. Applicants must also provide information about current and/or prior accommodations made in similar settings, such as in academic classes and other testing situations.

If you currently receive accommodations in school due to a professionally diagnosed and documented disability, the following information will prepare you and guide you through the process of requesting test accommodations.

What Documentation is Needed?

The following information explains what documentation is needed to support the accommodations request.

The ADA defines a disability as a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity compared to the average person in the general population. The guidelines of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th or 5th Edition (DSM-IV or DSM-5), are used to substantiate the presence of a disabling condition.

To qualify for accommodations on the ACT, documentation must show:

1. The condition is professionally diagnosed AND substantially limits one or more major life activities.

Complete diagnostic documentation may be required to substantiate a need for accommodations on the ACT, particularly when accommodations have been recently provided to the examinee. See Criteria for Diagnostic Documentation

2. Requests for accommodations are appropriate and reasonable for the documented disability.

Typically, accommodations that meet this criteria have previously been provided in an academic setting. To show whether requested accommodations meets the above criteria one or more of these documents must be provided:

  • If accommodations have been provided, include the accommodations pages from a current Individual Education Program (IEP), Section 504 plan, or official accommodations plan.
  • If no accommodations have been provided, include a detailed explanation of why no accommodations were used in the past and why accommodations are needed at this time.

What is a Disability?

The ADA defines a disability as a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a major life activity that the average person in the general population can perform. The guidelines of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th or 5th Edition (DSM-IV or DSM-5), are used to establish the presence of a disabling condition.

Qualified Diagnosticians

The administration of diagnostic assessments, determination of specific diagnoses, and recommendation of appropriate accommodations must be made by a qualified professional whose credentials are appropriate to the disability. The name, title, and professional credentials (e.g., degrees, areas of specialization, license or certification, employment) must be clearly stated in the documentation. For physical disabilities, documentation must be provided by a qualified physician.

Substantiation of Diagnosis

When required, documentation must provide a comprehensive evaluation with objective evidence of an impairment that causes a substantial limitation to a major life activity. The documentation must also indicate how the impairment interferes with the person’s ability to take the ACT, and the specific recommendations for test accommodations required. If evaluative data is required, documentation must include standard scores and/or percentiles, including subtests from reliable, valid, and standardized measures.

When full documentation is required by ACT, the information below is recommended for each condition.

Documentation by Type of Disability

Each request for accommodation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis using appropriate documentation. If a particular element of documentation is not provided, the diagnostician must explain why it is not included in the submission.

The above information may be strengthened by the submission of letters from teachers discussing specific ways in which the condition affects the examinee in the classroom and in testing situations, or submission of completed Teacher Survey Form (PDF)

The applicant must provide the results of age-appropriate diagnostic testing performed by a qualified professional within the past three years. Documentation must address the following:

  1. Description of the presenting problem(s) and its (their) developmental history, including relevant educational and medical history
  2. Neuropsychological or psychoeducational evaluation which includes results of an intellectual assessment using a complete and comprehensive battery
  3. Results of a complete achievement battery
  4. Other appropriate assessments for consideration of a differential diagnosis from co-existing neurological or psychiatric disorders
  5. Specific diagnosis and evidence that alternative explanations were ruled out
  6. Description of the functional limitations supported by the test results and a rationale for the recommended test accommodations specific to those functional limitations

 

The applicant must provide diagnostic results from an evaluation by a qualified professional within the past three years. Documentation must address the following:

  1. Original diagnosis (e.g. date/age/grade, diagnosing professional, symptoms/impairment, course of treatment, and educational/behavioral/social interventions)
  2. Evidence of childhood onset before age 12 (symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity demonstrated in two or more settings)
  3. Evidence of current impairment, including:
    • A statement of presenting problems (e.g. academic failure or significant struggle, poor social/familial functioning, relationships, behavioral problems)
    • A diagnostic interview
  4. A ruling out of alternative diagnoses and explanations
  5. Relevant testing using reliable, valid, standardized, and age-appropriate assessments to determine functional limitation (e.g. intellectual, achievement, neuropsychological, and rating scale measures from multiple sources)
  6. Number of applicable DSM-IV or DSM-5 criteria and a description of how the criteria impair the examinee (e.g. measurable impairment in academic achievement, social functioning, sports, extracurricular activities, employment, clubs, daily adaptive functioning, and/or executive functioning. Failure to finish timed tests cannot be used in isolation to demonstrate impairment.)
  7. Specific ADHD diagnosis (ADHD-Predominantly inattentive, ADHD-Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive, ADHD- Combined, ADHD-NOS, or Unspecified)

Mood or Anxiety Disorders or Serious and Persistent Mental Illness

The applicant must provide diagnostic information from an evaluation by a qualified professional within the past year. Documentation must address the following:

  1. Specific diagnosis
  2. Age of onset and the course of the illness
  3. Psychological tests used
  4. The history of treatment for the disorder, including medication and/or psychotherapy
  5. Evidence of current impairment, including a statement of presenting problems (e.g. academic failure or significant struggle, poor social/familial functioning, behavioral problems)
  6. In addition, please tell us how the examinee’s impairment affects his/her functioning across settings. Observations and/or rating scales of the examinee’s functional limitations in academic achievement, behavior, mood, and/or adaptive functioning may be helpful.

Due to the variable nature of these conditions, documentation of a psychiatric disorder must be within the past year.

The applicant must provide diagnostic results from a complete ocular examination performed by an optometrist or ophthalmologist within the past year. Documentation must address the  following:

  1. Specific ocular diagnosis
  2. Record of complete, current (within past 12 months) ocular examination including: chief complaint, history of illness, eye health, visual acuity both at a distance and near point, complete ocular motility exam (versions, tropias, phorias, stereopsis), slit lamp exam, visual field, pupil exam, optic nerve, and retina
  3. History of treatment for the disorder, including any evaluations or therapy notes (e.g. vision therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy), and a statement about whether or not the condition is stable or progressive, and whether the examinee needs extended testing time, or the opportunity to take vision breaks during testing.

If the diagnosed condition is purported to affect reading, results of a measure of reading (decoding, rate, and comprehension) are required. Examples of acceptable measures of reading include the WIAT-III and GSRT. Assertions of poor reading speed (or other conditions requiring additional time) made by vision professionals must be corroborated by educational and/or psychometric data. Letters from an eye care professional and/or a Visagraph score are not acceptable as evidence of reading problems requiring extended time on the ACT.

The applicant must provide diagnostic results from a full hearing test performed by a qualified professional within the past three years. Documentation must also address the following:

  1. Relevant medical history, including date of hearing loss
  2. Specific diagnosis
  3. Description of functional limitation (with and without any hearing aids or assistive devices or treatments)
  4. Related educational history, including information regarding reading and language skills
  5. Specific recommendation for accommodation(s) and accompanying rationale

The applicant must provide diagnostic results from an evaluation by a qualified professional within the past three years. Documentation must address the following:

  1. Original diagnosis (e.g. date/age/grade, diagnosing professional, symptoms/impairment, course of treatment)
  2. Current and prior psychoeducational or neuropsychological evaluations
  3. A history of special education interventions (e.g. specialized instruction, self-contained classrooms or schools, one-to- one aides, exemptions from proficiency or graduation exams)
  4. Current information regarding adaptive behavior, attention, executive functioning, language skills, and mental health
  5. Rationale for accommodations, based on current impairment

The applicant must provide diagnostic results from an evaluation by a qualified professional within the past three years. Documentation must address the following:

  1. Specific diagnosis and a description of the presenting problems
  2. Developmental history including relevant educational history
  3. Results of speech and language assessments, including measures of expressive and receptive language, and communication skills
  4. Evidence that demonstrates the current impact of a speech and language disorder on reading, written expression, and/ or learning
  5. Description of the functional limitations supported by the test results and a rationale for the recommended test accommodations specific to those functional limitations

The applicant must provide complete medical documentation from the qualified treating professional within the past year. While medical conditions may cause problems in psychological and educational areas, objective evidence that such problems are present is a requirement.

Documentation must address the following:

  1. Specific diagnosis and age/date of onset
  2. Current and/or prior course of medical treatment, including the impact of medical treatment specific to the examinee
  3. Current and/or prior therapy outcomes (e.g. physical, occupational and/or speech therapy, mental health counseling/ psychiatric treatment)
  4. Current impact on examinee’s education (e.g. school absence, hospital and/or homebound status, reduced school schedule)
  5. Current impact on academic functioning (e.g. psychoeducational or neuropsychological evaluations, grade reports, transcripts, and/or other standardized testing)

ACT does not require images or lab reports.

The applicant must provide complete medical documentation from the qualified treating professional within the past year. While medical conditions may cause problems in psychological and educational areas, objective evidence that such problems are present is a requirement.

Documentation must address the following:

  1. The date of accident
  2. Status and diagnosis upon hospital admission
  3. Length of hospital stay
  4. Discharge date, review of type and outcome of outpatient therapy (Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech Therapy), if applicable
  5. Length of school absence and/or confirmation of any homebound service or reduced school schedule
  6. Evidence of continued educational impairment and its relationship to the requested accommodations, as supported by objective data. Examples include:
    • A complete evaluation of intellectual, neurocognitive, and academic skills, using acceptable batteries of assessment (impact results cannot be used in isolation to demonstrate psychological or neuropsychological impairment)
    • Observations and/or rating scales of the examinee’s functional limitations in academic achievement, behavior, mood, and/or adaptive functioning
    • Interventions provided by the examinee’s school

 

Notification of Approved Accommodations

After ACT reviews a request for accommodations, an examinee-specific Decision Notification is created in the Test Administration and Accommodations System (TAA). When the notification is available, the school official who submitted the request will receive an email. The notification contains the:

  • Examinee’s name
  • Examinee’s personal identification number (PIN) for TAA
  • Accommodations approved (including any special authorizations), or not approved, as applicable
  • Reason accommodations are not approved, if applicable

Supporting Accommodations on the ACT

ACT sought the counsel and advice of numerous professionals who test and diagnose individuals with disabilities. These professionals also have experience with the preparation of documentation to support requests for accommodations when taking standardized tests. ACT acknowledges and appreciates their valuable contributions.