Policy for Requesting Accommodations for the ACT Test
This policy is intended to provide examinees, their families, school officials, and professional diagnosticians with specific information about ACT's standards for determining eligibility for accommodations on the ACT® test.
In preparing this policy document, ACT sought input from numerous professionals who test and diagnose individuals with disabilities and school officials who support and serve students with disabilities in the classroom. ACT acknowledges and appreciates their valuable contributions.
ACT provides access to the ACT® test for individuals with disabilities through appropriate, allowable accommodations based on the examinee's demonstrated needs. To assist examinees in demonstrating a need for accommodations, ACT has established guidelines regarding submission of documentation of an examinee’s disability and history of using accommodations. ACT approves accommodations in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and in alignment with determinations made by school officials pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 Rehabilitation Act (Section 504).
The following principles guide ACT in responding to requests for accommodations on the ACT test:
- Fairness: Requirements and procedures for test accommodations must ensure fairness for all examinees, both those seeking accommodations and those testing under standard conditions.
- Consistency: Accommodations must be consistent with the ADA, with considerable weight given to accommodations received by an examinee under the IDEA and Section 504. Accommodations should be appropriate and reasonable for the documented disability.
- Validity: Accommodations must not result in an undue burden, as that term is used under the ADA, or fundamentally alter what the test is designed to measure.
- Input from Qualified Professionals: Documentation of the need for accommodations must meet guidelines that are considered appropriate by qualified professionals and must provide evidence that the person’s impairment substantially limits one or more major life activities that are relevant when taking the ACT test. A current, valid IEP or Section 504 plan that documents accommodations routinely provided in similar settings, such as in academic classes during instruction and in other testing situations, will be considered sufficient documentation of a need for the same accommodations on the ACT test. Other types of documentation may also be appropriate, as discussed further below.
All documentation submitted to ACT by or on behalf of individuals seeking accommodations is kept confidential and used solely in connection with ACT’s determination of the applicant's eligibility for test accommodations. Testing staff are instructed to treat as confidential all information they receive relative to the examinee's impairment(s) and accommodations. ACT Score Reports do not include any information about the impairment(s) or about the accommodations provided.
The following information explains what documentation is needed to support an accommodations request.
For examinees who have a valid, current Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 Plan (504 Plan) that authorizes allowable accommodations that have been requested for the ACT, a copy of the IEP or 504 Plan will be sufficient to demonstrate eligibility and need for the same allowable accommodations on the ACT test.
If an examinee does not have a valid, current IEP or Section 504 Plan, ACT requires additional documentation from a qualified professional to establish eligibility pursuant to ADA standards. The ADA defines a disability as a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits a person’s ability to perform one or more major life activities, as compared to the average person in the general population. For mental impairments, including learning disorders and ADHD, ACT follows the guidelines of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), when evaluating whether a candidate’s documentation demonstrates the presence of a disabling condition.
To qualify for accommodations in the absence of a valid, current IEP or Section 504 Plan, an examinee must submit documentation that:
- Identifies a professionally diagnosed physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; and
- Requests allowable accommodations that are appropriate and reasonable for the documented disability.
The documentation must be reflected in a letter or report from a licensed, qualified professional, and complete diagnostic documentation may be required in some cases to substantiate a need for accommodations. See Criteria for Diagnostic Documentation and Documentation Guidelines by Disability Type.
Accommodations are often shown to be appropriate and reasonable by submitting documentation which confirms that the examinee has a history of using the accommodations in a similar setting. In the absence of a current IEP or Section 504 Plan, examinees are encouraged to submit one or more of the following documents:
- a current and official accommodations plan (other than an IEP or Section 504 Plan), or
- if the examinee is no longer in school, an expired IEP or Section 504 Plan.
If the examinee does not have a documented history of receiving the requested accommodations, the examinee must submit an Exceptions Statement Form, providing a detailed explanation of why accommodations are needed at this time.
Notification of Approved Accommodations
After ACT reviews a request for accommodations, a Decision Notification is created in the Test Administration and Accommodations System (TAA). When the notification is available, the school official who submitted the request on an examinee’s behalf 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