Can Cancer Patients Get ACT or SAT Accommodations?

Cancer patients may qualify for accommodations on ACT and SAT tests. These “high-stakes” exams are an important part of the admissions process for 4-year colleges and universities.

Accommodations are changes made to the regular testing environment to allow people with disabilities to demonstrate their true ability on tests.

Under the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits:

  • A life activity such as seeing, hearing, learning, reading, concentrating, or thinking
  • Major bodily function such as the neurological, endocrine, or digestive system
Cancer patients may qualify for accommodations on ACT and SAT tests. These “high-stakes” exams are an important part of the admissions process for 4-year colleges and universities.

Cancer patients may qualify for accommodations on ACT and SAT tests. These “high-stakes” exams are an important part of the admissions process for 4-year colleges and universities.

What Are Cancer-Related Conditions that May Qualify?

Side effects of medications and problems associated with certain cancers and treatments may be considered disabilities.

Examples of cancer-related side effects and treatment problems include:

What Are Testing Accommodations?

Common accommodations are:

  • Extra time — Students typically get “time and a half” or 50% more time. For example, if the test normally takes 3 hours, this modification allows students 4 ½ hours. Some people may qualify for more time.
  • Extended days — This accommodation allows students to take a test over several days.
  • Extra breaks — Students with illnesses may need breaks during the testing period.
  • Help with writing — If the student has trouble with bubbling in an answer sheet or writing an essay portion of the test, they may have the option of typing or using a scribe. 
  • Braille or large-print exam books
  • Alternate location — ACT allows patients to take the test at the treatment center’s school program, if it has one.

How Do Students Get Testing Accommodations?

This process starts by contacting the school. The guidance counselor or the school program at the treatment center can help parents and students with these arrangements.

There must be documentation of the student’s disability. This may be an educational evaluation by a psychologist or a report from a doctor.

Having an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) Plan or 504 plan does not automatically qualify students for accommodations on the ACT and SAT.

How Long Does the Testing Accommodations Process Take?

ACT

The ACT accommodations process can take up to 19 days, according to its website.

  • Applicants must first set up an account with ACT before applying.
  • The account must be validated, which can take up to 5 business days.
  • ACT will review the request. Requests are normally processed in 10-14 business days.

To qualify for accommodations on the ACT, documentation must show:

  • The condition is professionally diagnosed AND substantially limits one or more major life activity.
  • Requests for accommodations are appropriate and reasonable for the documented disability. Usually these accommodations have previously been provided at school.

SAT

SAT accommodations must be approved by the College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities. Usually these accommodations have previously been provided at school.

The disability must result in a limitation in:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Sitting for extended periods

The student will need to complete the appropriate application and provide necessary documentation. SAT has 7 criteria for documentation:

  • Diagnosis clearly stated
  • Current information
  • Relevant educational, developmental, and medical history
  • Diagnosis supported with evidence
  • Explanation about how disability affects daily living
  • Explanation of why accommodations are needed
  • Professional credentials of student’s evaluator

How have the ACT and SAT been affected by COVID-19?

For information about the ACT, please visit ACT’s COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions.

For information about the SAT, please go to SAT Coronavirus Updates.


Reviewed: August 2020