ACT Testing Accommodations: Steps & Deadlines | Winward Academy


ACT Testing Accommodations: Steps and Deadlines

ACT distributes and scores the ACT, PreACT, and Aspire exams. For these tests, ACT offers a variety of testing accommodations for students with learning disabilities. The most frequently requested accommodations include the following:

  • Extended time
  • Large print (for visually impaired students)
  • Use of a computer for the essays
  • Small group setting

The process to apply can seem overwhelming, but the following steps and deadlines will help you understand what to submit and when.

Step 1: Determine Eligibility

ACT requires that a student’s request for accommodation meet the following criteria:

  • Diagnosis and documentation by a licensed professional
  • Direct impact of the disability on ACT test performance
  • Documentation that includes specific information about current and long-standing accommodations provided in school settings

Students applying for accommodations from ACT will fall into two categories:

  1. National Extended Time – for students who receive only 50% extended time on the ACT
  2. Special Testing – for students who require any additional support besides 50% extended time

Options for Special Testing include the following:

  • Code 2 – double time over multiple days
  • Code 3 – triple time over multiple days
  • Code 5 – standard time over multiple days or standard time with authorized stop-the-clock breaks (each examinee authorized for stop-the-clock breaks must test individually in a separate room)
  • Code 6 – time-and-a-half in a single session (these students get 1.5 time in English, Math, Reading, and Science – the clock does not stop for breaks)
  • Code 7 – time-and-a-half over multiple days (these students do not self-pace the four multiple choice sections and instead receive exactly time-and-a-half in each section)
  • Code 8 – standard time for four multiple choice tests but double time for the Writing (these students complete the entire test in a single session but just get double time for the essay)

Note, regardless of Timing Code granted for Special Testing, the ACT exam must be completed in order: English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing (if applicable). The Writing test may not be taken without the student first completing the four multiple choice sections.

Step 2: Consolidate Documentation

Approval for accommodation is only granted when applicants provide both of the following:

  1. Formal educational and/or neuropsychological testing conducted by a private neuropsychometrist or by a school official
    • Visual disabilities must have records within the past year of the request
    • Medical or psychiatric conditions must have records within the past year of the request
    • Educational and neuropsychological assessments for learning disabilities must have records within the past three years
  2. Record of implementation of the requested accommodations in the student’s high school
Step 3: Apply for Accommodation

Once you’ve determined eligibility and have the two pieces of required documentation, you will register for a test date through ACT’s online registration process. While you’re completing the registration process for an ACT exam, you’ll be prompted to indicate if you’re applying for National Extended Time or Special Testing.

After completing registration, you’ll receive an email from ACT with instructions for how the student should work with a school official – called the Test Accommodations Coordinator (TAC) – to submit the online request for accommodations.

The student will work with his or her school’s TAC to complete the online accommodations request through ACT’s system called the Test Accessibility and Accommodations System. The TAC will guide the student’s application for either National Extended Time or Special Testing. If Special Testing is requested, the TAC will work with the student to determine which type of Special Testing fits the student’s needed accommodations (see the above list for the various Code options for Special Testing).

Step 4: Respond to any Additional Requests

It will take up to 6 weeks to hear back from ACT with the decision on the request for accommodations. ACT will email the school TAC with its decision to approve or deny the request. The TAC is responsible for communicating with the student.

  • If you’re approved for National Extended Time: The TAC will connect with the testing center to ensure the student receives extended time. Once the student is confirmed for extra time at the testing center, the student will receive an admission ticket that reflects the approved accommodation.
  • If you’re approved for Special Testing: The TAC will collaborate with the student to arrange all testing accommodations for the student. Most students with Special Testing will take the ACT at their high schools.
  • If you’re denied: A family may appeal the ACT decision working with the school TAC. However, any appeal should be accompanied by additional testing or evidence from the school or from a private evaluator to provide additional reason to grant the requested accommodation. It will take up to an additional 6 weeks to process the appeal.
Step 5: Use Accommodation

A student receiving National Extended Time will print his or her registration ticket and bring it to the testing center, where accommodations will be provided. A student receiving Special Testing will have coordinated specifics for testing with the school’s TAC in advance. The TAC will oversee testing administration.


2018-2019 ACT Test Dates & Deadlines

While ACT has deadlines to submit requests for accommodations, we recommend you submit as early as possible, even 6-12 months in advance. There is no reason to wait for the deadline, especially if you want to build in a buffer in case you need to appeal the decision.

ACT Test Date Documentation Deadline
September 8, 2018 August 17, 2018
October 27, 2018 October 5, 2018
December 8, 2018 November 16, 2018
February 9, 2019 January 18, 2019
April 13, 2019 March 21, 2019
June 8, 2019 May 17, 2019
July 13, 2019 June 21, 2019


If you’re looking for more information about SAT testing accommodations, you can check out the steps and deadlines for applying for extra time from SAT.

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Dr. Jennifer Winward is a renowned college instructor, a distinguished 20-year veteran of high school tutoring, and the founder and lead instructor of Winward Academy. She earned her Ph.D. specializing in adolescent brain development and adolescent learning. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude with highest distinction honors. Dr. Winward has been widely recognized for her academic success, published research, and philanthropic efforts with awards from the President of the United States, the California State Assembly, Rotary International, the Marin County School Administrator Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Science Foundation.

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