SAT extra time

ACT/SAT Extra time for Learning Disabilities

DISCLAIMER: Keep in mind, the following steps are only applicable if your child qualifies for the ACT/ SAT extra time. Please do not abuse the system and request test accommodations if you truly don’t need it. It is not fair or right. As a past SAT/ACT tutor, I can say that some students need extra time due to documented learning disabilities. This article is applicable to those students. 

Parents: did you know that if your kids qualify for accommodations, they could get more time on the SAT and ACT? In fact, up to twice the amount of time of the other test-takers.

This time advantage can help raise their scores significantly! Aside from applying SAT tips and tricks, some students have even reported raising their score by as much as 350+ points by the extra time!

To be considered, your child has to have a documented learning disability and there are several steps he needs to undergo. But if this applies to your child or someone’s child you know, this could make or break their chances of getting into the college of their dreams and obtaining thousands of dollars in scholarships!

How much extended extra time can my child get on the exam?

Depending on your child’s learning disability (as judged by the College Board or ACT Inc.), students can be awarded extended time frames on the PSAT, SAT, ACT, and/or AP exams. This is a great wat to motivate your teen to study for the SAT.

Time and a half

This option gives students an additional 50% time to finish the test. For those who are taking the SAT without the essay, that would mean 4 hours and 30 minutes. Meanwhile, for those who are taking the essay test, that would be 5 hours and 45 minutes.

Double time

By now, you may already understand how additional time works. If time and a half add 50% time, for the double-time, the test taker is given 100% additional time. That means that those who are not taking the essay test will get 6 hours to finish the exam while those who chose to write the essay will get 7 hours and 40 minutes.

Additional 150% time

It is quite rare that the SAT gives 150% additional time to any test taker except for special cases. For this option, the total number of hours one can take the test without the essay is 7 hours and 30 minutes. Meanwhile, 9 hours and 35 minutes will be given if your child will take the essay. The test will be taken in two days but not in any test-taking centers. Instead, it will be given at your child’s school where he can be assisted by a school coordinator.

It should come as no surprise that having more time on the SAT and ACT can have a significant impact on testing performance. Students can take a deep breath and know that they will not run out of time or feel the pressure of the clock looming over them. As stated above, students who have accommodations can see a significant score increase.

A breakdown of the SAT with the extended time

If you’re wondering how the SAT extra time applies to the actual test, here is a detailed discussion on that.

For the SAT without an essay, the regular time for taking the test is 3 hours. If your child is given an additional 50% time, he would take the test in 5 hours, 10 minutes including the break. For 100% additional time, your child needs to finish the test in 6 hours, 40 minutes including the break while 8 hours, 10 minutes will be given for 150% additional time.

In case your child is taking the SAT with an essay which is normally 3 hours and 50 minutes, the same additional time options are offered. For 50% additional time, your child will take the test in 6 hours, 30 minutes including breaks. For 100% additional time, 8 hours, 25 minutes will be given. And for 150% additional time, 10 hours, 20 minutes will be given including the break. 

What does a significant increase in my child’s SAT and ACT scores mean?

Since the test makers are not allowed to tell colleges that your child had more time on the SAT and ACT exams, the schools your kids apply to will treat the scores the same way as everyone else’s. This will help your child in three major areas:

1. College Entrance

Colleges put a great value on SAT and ACT scores. Although every school is different, it has been stated by Princeton Review that most schools weight the SAT and ACT at about 40% of the college admission process (with GPA also about 40% and the personal essay / extracurricular activities at only 20%). Private universities typically weight the SAT and ACT score less than state schools but it is still a huge determining factor if your child will be accepted to that school or not! This is one of the main reasons why SAT extended time as well as ACT extended time is necessary.

2. Merit-Based Scholarships

Merit-based scholarships are scholarships strictly given out based on GPA and test scores. In fact, there are 11 billion dollars in merit-based scholarships awarded by colleges each year! They do not take the student’s financial status, race, gender, or any other personal factor into account. Instead, they look only at performance scores.

ASU offers a scholarship estimator on its website that shows how much scholarship money your child could get based on an unweighted GPA and test scores. An achievable increase of only 150 points on the SAT can secure your kid an additional $18,000 in scholarships to ASU. More time to take the test would make that increase in score even easier to attain.

Please see for a full directory of how much merit-based scholarships your child could receive for his or her GPA and test score combination.

3. Private Scholarships

There are billions of dollars in private scholarships given out each year as well. Almost all of these private scholarships request the SAT score, so it will still play a key role in winning the award even though private scholarship boards will take other factors into account beyond scores and grades. Higher scores will only help your child’s chances. 

Sounds great! How do I get my child to qualify?

How to get more SAT extra time

First off, be forewarned: the process of applying for and receiving accommodation is difficult and success is not guaranteed. It has been said that there is no true reason why some students receive accommodation and why others are turned down. Due to the extreme benefits that more time on the PSAT, SAT, and/or AP tests can provide, the testing administrators do not make it easy to receive this accommodation (otherwise, everyone would get extra time!).

With that said, if your child truly has a learning disability and at a true disadvantage, then follow the steps on how to get extended time on SAT below early on. There are several changes to the SAT in 2016 so this accommodation is really necessary. Just be persistent, and the chances are in your favor.

Once again please don’t abuse this system. It is there to help those who are at a TRUE disadvantage.

Step # 1: Make sure your son/daughter qualifies

A student must have a disability that requires testing accommodation or SAT extended time. The College Board offers two ways for a student to be determined eligible:

  • School Verification (which must be submitted by a school via the SSD Online system)
  • Document Review (via the paper Eligibility Form)

The College Board will need to review supporting disability documentation and states that it needs to meet the College Board’s Documentation Guidelines. The review process takes about 7 weeks from the receipt of all documentation before the College Board makes a determination. Students and schools should submit requests for accommodations early.

Step # 2: After the decision

When the College Board determines the eligibility of a student for accommodations, your child and the school will receive an “Eligibility Letter.” In it, if approved, your child will get an SSD Eligibility Code to use when communicating with the College Board and when registering for tests, including online registration for the SAT.

Most schools have SSD Coordinators, who help students during the eligibility process and help administer College Board tests with accommodations, so talk with your school’s counselors to see what help they can provide so your child can get SAT extended time. Once they receive extra time, your child will be more motivated to study for the SAT.

How to get more ACT extra time

The ACT is commissioned by a different entity than the PSAT, SAT, and AP exams (College Board). Their process at ACT Inc. is slightly different, but they still require documentation.

Step # 1: Apply for an ACT test

Your child will first need to register for an ACT National Test Date by the registration deadline at the ACT website. Make sure to identify your child’s preferred testing center and what accommodation he needs for the test. For example: ACT extended time.

Step # 2: Refer to the ACT email for instructions

Once your child is already registered, you will receive an email from the ACT about the instructions on how you will work with your child’s school for your request for accommodation. Your child will also need to fill out the Consent to Release Information to ACT PDF.

Step # 3: Your child’s school will submit the application for accommodation 

The school official will be the one to submit your child’s application for accommodation. In two week’s time, the school will be contacted regarding the result of the application and they are the ones who will discuss the result to you.

Other tips on how to get extended time on ACT

Tip # 1: Apply as early as possible and make sure all the requirement is submitted, or your child may not be able to test on the date registered.

Tip # 2: If your request is denied, you still have a chance to appeal for the ACT extended time so make use of it.

Tip # 3: Make sure that your child is already receiving some sort of special accommodation from his school because you will be needing documentation of it.

Tip # 4: Requesting for extra time does not require any fee so if your child is really in need, might as well apply and use the opportunity.

Tip # 5: Do not be hesitant to ask your child’s school for help because they are more knowledgeable about it since they have experienced it before. 

Final Thoughts

This accommodation has been implemented to help those who were born with less fortunate circumstances. It gives students who otherwise would be at a disadvantage the same playing field. It is important for the College Board to have a process and to double-check with credible resources to confirm the learning disability exists before giving extra time. 

To recap, here are some of the key facts from what we have discussed:

  • How much extended extra time can my child get on the exam? Time and a half, double-time, or an additional 150% time.
  • What does a significant increase in my child’s SAT and ACT scores mean? College entrance, merit-based scholarships, private scholarships.
  • How to get more time for my child on the PSAT, SAT, and/or AP exams?

Step # 1: Make sure your son/daughter qualifies

Step # 2: After the decision, your child will get an eligibility code

  • How to get more ACT extra time?

Step # 1: Apply for an ACT test

Step # 2: Refer to the ACT email for instructions

Step # 3: Your child’s school will submit the application for accommodation 

Follow these steps or visit the website of the college board and ACT to learn more about special accommodations. 

Important note: Aside from extended time, other accommodations are also offered so there will surely be one that fits your child’s needs. 

Please share with us your obstacles and successes so we can pass it along to others!

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Todd VanDuzer

Co-Founder & CEO at Student-Tutor
Hello! My name is Todd. I help students design the life of their dreams by ensuring college, scholarship, and career success! I am a former tutor for seven years, $85,000 scholarship recipient, Huffington Post contributor, lead SAT & ACT course developer, host of a career exploration podcast for teens, and have worked with thousands of students and parents to ensure a brighter future for the next generation. I invite you to join my next webinar to learn how to save thousands + set your teenager up for college, scholarship, and career success!
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Shannon Thompson
Shannon Thompson
6 years ago

Proper information is needed and you have mentioned it perfectly. Thanks for sharing and treat each one as they require. Thanks for blog. Keep blogging.

6 years ago

how easy to get accomidations for step one I have high anziety what do I need would it help a lot thank you so much!!!

Sol Fluhr
Sol Fluhr
6 years ago

Hello! I have dyslexia and I would like to get extra time on the ACT and SAT. If my school doesn’t give out forms to get extra time, should I get the papers for my condition in any physiologist?

6 years ago

My daughter does not have a disability. However, she does have test taking anxiety. She panicks if she doesn’t know the answer, gets distracted by the anxiety and therefore is always the last one to finish a test. She recently toke the SAT and did not complete it. Can She get a doctors/ therapists note stating she has anxiety? Would this be considered a disability. She is not on a IEP and had never been diagnosed with a learning disablitity.

Doreya Saleh
Doreya Saleh
7 years ago

I applied for my daughter and got approved for extended time but we faced two major problems: first, the test must be school based and sent to school directly which causes delay in testing date. Second, the test questions on all four sections were not the same as the standard one that everyone took 4 days earlier. Is this normal? Why do they give different tests?