The promise of SAT testing can create a tremendous amount of anxiety for high school students. The SAT, or its competitor, the ACT, is required by most colleges and universities in the United States and is used for admissions evaluation. Preparation for this college entrance exam can be even more stressful for students who have learning differences or physical conditions that make it difficult to concentrate or sit in a classroom for the duration of the 3 hour 45 minute exam.
The SAT allows for accommodations for students who qualify according to strict guidelines. Students may receive 50% extra time on tests, or 100% time requiring testing across two days. Guidelines for requesting accommodations can be found on the College Board website. According to College Board, students with IEPs or a 504 plan do not automatically qualify for accommodations, which in addition to extra time, might include special seating in the front of the classroom, extra or extended breaks. Students who receive 50% extra time have 5 hours and 25 minutes to complete the exam. Students who receive double time (100%) take the test over two days, for a total of 7 hours.
College Board requires documentation of a disability and a formal request for accommodations. It is highly recommended that students begin the process of providing documentation well before they intend to take their first SAT test. College Board requires full psychoeducational or neuorpsych evaluations and scores from nationally normed standardized tests of cognitive and academic skills.
Students who are taking SAT prep classes and have approved accommodations should take practice tests that are consistent with the actual testing conditions they'll encounter on the official test date. Student stress can be greatly reduced by experiencing actual testing conditions and obtaining a realistic baseline test score through practice. Since the SAT is a paper and pencil test, online or computer-based practice tests are not recommended. Reading from print and bubbling in circles with a pencil may seem outdated, but until the SAT catches up with 21st century learners, students will have to prepare the old-fashioned way.