In a speech introducing the redesigned SAT, the president of the College Board stressed fairness and equal access for all students, including those with special needs. Even if you don't think you belong in that category, skim this section. You may discover an option that will help you “show what you know” when it matters most.
If you have a learning disability, you may be allowed to take the SAT under special conditions. The first step is to get an Eligibility Form from your school counselor. (Homeschoolers, call the local high school.) You may also want to ask your college counseling or guidance office for a copy of the College Board Services for Students with Disabilities Brochure (pamphlet). If your school doesn't have one, contact the College Board directly (212-713-8333, TTY 609-882-4118) or check the testing agency's website (www.collegeboard.org/ students-with-disabilities). You can also contact the College Board by mail at this address: College Board SSD Program, P.O. Box 8060, Mount Vernon, IL 62864-0060.
After you've been certified for accommodations on one College Board test (an AP, a SAT Subject Test, or the PSAT/NMSQT), you're certified for all, unless your need arises from a temporary medical condition. If you fall into that category, see the next section for more information.
File the form well in advance of the time you expect to take the test. Generally, if you're entitled to extra test time in your high school, you'll be eligible for extra time on the SAT. What does extra time really mean? Extra time equals 1^ the usual amount for each section. So if regular test-takers have 50 minutes to write the essay, for example, extended-timers get 75 minutes.
jAtencion! What every foreign student needs
to know about the new SAT
First, welcome to the U.S.'s worst invention, the Seriously Annoying Test (SAT), which you're taking so that you can attend an American institution. Getting ready for this exam may make you consider another American institution, one with padded rooms and bars on the windows. But a high score on the new exam is certainly within reach for individuals who have studied English as a second language. Because the new SAT tests vocabulary in context, you can usually figure out the answer, even if you don't know the formal definition, by plugging in a plausible (reasonable) alternative word. As a foreign student, pay special attention to the vocabulary words in this book, which, like plausible, are defined in context. You may want to keep a notebook or a computer file of new words you come across as you work through the sample questions. Also, a number of questions on the new SAT involve visual data in the form of graphs, charts, and diagrams. These require little knowledge of English.
Be sure to turn your concentration up to “totally intense” in the math section of this chapter and Chapter 3 because arithmetic doesn't change from language to language. Neither does geometry or algebra. If you can crack the basic language used to put forth the problem, you should be able to score a ton of points.
At no additional charge, the SAT also provides wheelchair accessibility, large-print tests, and other accommodations for students who need them. The key is to submit the Eligibility Form early so that the College Board can ask for suitable documentation and set up appropriate test conditions for you. You can send paper documentation or file an Eligibility Form via the Internet. Check out www.collegeboard.com/students-with-disabilities for details.
If a physical problem (a broken arm, perhaps) occurs shortly before your scheduled SAT and you can't easily take the exam at a later date, call the College Board (212-713-8333, TTY 609-882-4118), explain the situation, and have your physician fill out the forms requesting whatever accommodation you need.
Questions about special needs? Your high school's counselor or principal can help, or you can email the College Board (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If your special need resides in your wallet, you can apply for a fee waiver, which is available to low-income high-school juniors and seniors who live in the United States, Puerto Rico, and other American territories. (United States citizens living in other countries may also be eligible for fee waivers.) Not only does the College Board waive its fee for the exam, but it also gives you four extra score reports for free. And, as they say on television infomercials, “Wait! There's more!” When you apply to college, you usually have to pay an application fee. If the College Board has waived its fee, you receive four request forms for college application fee-waivers. Not a bad deal!
For any financial issues, check with your school counselor for fee-waiver applications. (As with everything to do with the SAT, if you're a home-schooler, call the local high school for a form.) And be careful to avoid additional fees when you can. You run into extra charges for late or changed registration and for some extras — super-speedy scores, an analysis of your performance, and the like. (See the section “Scoring on the SAT” later in this chapter for more information on score-reporting options.)