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Eligibility guidelines for use of a computer on College Board tests

Many students who take College Board tests are accustomed to using a computer in school for written assignments. Certain SAT Subject Tests™, AP® Exams, and the essay on the SAT™ are to be handwritten, similar to what most students do for classroom tests.

There are students who, because of a disability, may need to use a computer for written language expression on College Board tests. Only they may take College Board written tests using a computer.

Poor handwriting is not considered a disability that necessitates a computer accommodation. Neither does use of a computer for school tests automatically determine that it is an appropriate accommodation for College Board tests.

Please note that in most cases, the computer is available only for the essay sections of College Board tests.  If a student has difficulty "bubbling in" answers to multiple choice questions, the student should request one of the following accommodations:

Also be aware that in most cases, spelling is not a factor in the scoring of essay questions.  Spell check is not available as an accommodation, and it is disabled when a computer is used.

Documentation when a computer is requested as accommodation

To request a computer for College Board tests, a student must submit a request for accommodations, accompanied by documentation. The following guidelines help to determine appropriate documentation. Please note that requests for the use of a computer cannot be school-verified, and documentation must be submitted. See Document Review.

To be eligible for accommodations on College Board tests, a student with a disability must have documentation that meets the College Board's Documentation Guidelines, including evidence of functional limitation. Additional documentation requirements for the computer are discussed below. See:

Eligibility guidelines for computer accommodations on College Board Tests

Generally, there are three major disability categories which may require computer accommodations:

  • Physical disabilities
  • Dysgraphia (fine motor)
  • Learning disability (severe)

Note that not all students with learning disabilities require the use of a computer. Also, some students may fall into more than one of the above categories.

Physical disability

Physical disabilities that require a computer may be caused by congenital factors, paralysis, autoimmune deficiency, accidents, or illness. Examples include muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy or traumatic brain injury.

To be eligible for accommodations on College Board tests, a student with a physical must have documentation that meets the College Board's Guidelines for Documentation, including evidence of functional limitation.  See Physical Disabilities. The following documentation should be submitted:

  • A clear statement explaining why the student has difficulty writing.  The documentation should demonstrate not only that the student has a disability, but why the student needs a computer.
  • A statement of the physical disability including:
    • Historical information of the onset and etiology of the disability, with a medical examination
    • The evaluator's name(s), title(s), professional credentials, license number, address, date of the assessment and phone number(s)
  • Current documentation, preferably within the last five years, that summarizes current symptoms and medical results that meet the criteria for the specific physical diagnosis.
  • Narrative or descriptive text providing both quantitative and qualitative information about the student's abilities that could help the College Board in understanding the student's profile, including:
    • The use of medication
    • Any type of surgical and/or physical therapeutic intervention (if appropriate)
    • The student's response to intervention

Dysgraphia

For the purposes of College Board tests, dysgraphia is defined as a type of disability in which a student has fine motor problems that affect his or her writing skills. Please note that poor handwriting is not a disability. Without further evidence to show that it is due to a disabling condition, poor handwriting does not warrant a computer accommodation on College Board tests.

When a student requires a computer for dysgraphia, the following documentation should be submitted:

  • Documentation of a fine motor problem. Professionals such as occupational therapists, psychologists, learning specialists, MDs can document such conditions. Some of the common tests that are acceptable by the professional community to document fine motor skills problems are:
    • Coding subtest of the Wechsler Cognitive Test
    • Beery Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual Motor Integration (VMI)
    • Rey Complex Figure Test
  • An academic test of writing. This demonstrates that the student's fine motor problems present severity in organization, presentation of ideas, richness of language, complex language structure. These tests are usually administered by school or clinical psychologists or educational diagnosticians. They include:
    • Woodcock-Johnson-III: Tests of Academic Achievement (General and Extended batteries including fluency measures)
    • Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA)
    • Wechsler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT II)
    • Test of Written Language III (TOWL III)
    • Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, Second Edition (KTEA-II)

Please note that this list is not exhaustive.

Language-based learning disability (severe)

There are some severe learning disabilities that affect a student's overall language-based skills, both in reading and writing. To be eligible for computer accommodation on College Board tests, the student should submit comprehensive cognitive and academic testing that meets College Board guidelines.

The documentation should demonstrate severe deficiencies in organization, presentation of ideas, richness of language, complex sentence structure. Learn more about specific testing information at Learning Disabilities.

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Contact

  • Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD)
  • College Board SSD Program
  • P.O. Box 8060
  • Mt. Vernon, Illinois 62864-0060
  • Phone: (609) 771-7137
  • FAX: (866) 360-0114
  • TTY: (609) 882-4118
  • Email: ssd@info.collegeboard.org
  • Phones are available between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday. You may also contact PSAT/NMSQT, SAT or AP for specific information about each program.

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