SSAT Testing Accommodations

In past posts, we’ve discussed the process of requesting testing accommodations for the ACT and the SAT.

Testing accommodations permit non-standard testing conditions for eligible students with disabilities.

But what about the Secondary School Admissions Test (SSAT)?

Many of our students and their families ask about testing accommodations on the SSAT. The good news is that the SSAT does offer accommodations to eligible students!

However, just like the SAT and ACT, it can be challenging to request SSAT accommodations (and get approved for them). The process itself can be very involved, and the SSAT is quite particular when it comes to providing documentation for a designated disability.

We’ve created this comprehensive post to walk you through the process of requesting SSAT testing accommodations hassle-free.

Here’s what we cover:


What are SSAT Testing Accommodations?

Like most standardized tests, the SSAT is a marathon. It requires students to work through a significant amount of content in a short amount of time.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s on the Upper-Level SSAT:

SSAT Content Breakdown
Source: SSAT.org

The SSAT test-makers recognize that these time limits and test conditions may disadvantage some students, especially those with learning challenges and disabilities.

A student with dyslexia, for example, may find it virtually impossible to work through the SSAT Reading section in just 40 minutes. Similarly, a student with low vision may require large print testing materials and/or a computer for completing the SSAT Writing Sample.

SSAT testing accommodations are designed to give every student a fair shot at demonstrating their academic potential on the test.

According to the SSAT.org, testing accommodations are

“necessary practices and/or procedures which are intended to provide equitable access to the test for students with disabilities by limiting or eliminating the effects of a student’s disabilities on their performance.”


Who is Eligible?

The Enrollment Management Association (the company that produces the SSAT) is pretty general when it comes to student eligibility for accommodations.

Students must fulfill two criteria. They must:

  • Have an “identified disabling condition or impairment”
  • Be substantially limited by this condition or impairment in performing “major life activities”

There are a few important things to note here.

“Identified disabling condition”

The term “identified” here relates to the EMA’s requirement that the disabling condition/impairment be diagnosed and documented—we’ll talk more about documentation later on in this post. 

EMA does not explicitly define a “disabling condition or impairment.”

However, it does cite some examples of common conditions in its Testing Accommodations Guide for Students (2019-2020).

These include the following:

  • Learning disabilities (dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia)
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Physical disabilities
  • Medical or chronic health conditions
  • Blindness/low vision
  • Deaf/hard of hearing

“Major life activities”

EMA gives a few examples of “major life activities:”

  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Concentrating
  • Thinking
  • Communicating
  • Learning

It’s also important to note that a condition must “substantially” limit one or multiple of these major life activities.

If you’re not sure if your child is eligible for SSAT testing accommodations, you have a few options.

1) Contact the Enrollment Management Association (EMA)

You can reach out to EMA by phone, email, or even live chat during designated hours to ask specific questions regarding accommodations.

Here’s a helpful graphic with the EMA’s contact information:

SSAT Contact Info

2) Work with school personnel

School personnel will be a vital resource for families when requesting accommodations, regardless of what stage in the process they are trying to navigate.

We strongly recommend building a relationship with relevant school personnel (i.e., guidance counselors and/or school psychologists) to discuss eligibility.

Families will also have to submit documentation and accommodation requests with the help of a designated “approver,” who is often school personnel.

3) Consult a medical professional

EMA encourages families to consult a medical professional if they have any questions about their child’s eligibility for accommodations. This can also be vital for documentation purposes, especially documentation of diagnoses.


Types of SSAT Testing Accommodations 

SSAT testing accommodations typically fall under five broad categories:

  1. Presentation
  2. Item response
  3. Setting
  4. Timing/Scheduling
  5. Participation

1) Presentation

These accommodations assist students who may not be able to read standard print and/or take a traditional pencil and paper SSAT.

Examples include:

  • Large-print testing materials (22 pt Times New Roman)
  • Laptop with Spell Check for Writing Sample
  • Highlighter
  • Use of gel overlays
  • Hand-held magnifier
  • Use of a reader

2) Item response

With an item response accommodation, an SSAT test-taker will be able to answer questions in a custom way.

Examples include:

  • Use of a scribe
  • Answering directly in the test booklet
  • Use of a 4-function calculator

3) Setting

These accommodations permit students to take the test in a different environment, often a separate testing center.

They may also allow students to sit for the test in a small-group setting (10 or fewer students).

4) Timing or scheduling

This is a very common form of SSAT testing accommodations.

Students with this accommodation will be able to take the SSAT with extended time (50% additional time) or on separate test days.

SSAT Testing Accommodations_Extended Time

5) Participation

These accommodations allow students to bring any devices or materials into the testing center that they may need, such as diabetic supplies, seat cushions, or prescription medication.


Documentation Guidelines

The EMA is much more likely to approve an accommodations request if it has appropriate documentation. But just what serves as appropriate documentation?

In general, documentation has to meet the following requirements:

  • Specify the history of a student’s disability
  • Demonstrate exactly how this disability limits major life activities
  • Prove that the accommodations requested are “reasonable”
  • Be recent–within the last three years

We should add that this documentation should be completed by licensed professionals (i.e., medical practitioners, etc.), and all forms should be signed and dated.

Here are some good examples of documentation likely to earn accommodations:

  • Individualized Education Program (IEP)
  • Section 504 Accommodation(s) Plan
  • Evaluation reports (medical or school-based)
  • Testing results (from a qualified professional)
  • Proof of receiving testing accommodations in the past
  • Private school service plan

This list is not comprehensive!


Requesting SSAT Testing Accommodations

Now comes the hard part: actually requesting SSAT testing accommodations.

Many families are intimidated by this process, and understandably so! The EMA can be a stickler when it comes to documentation, and there are a lot of specific steps to follow.

Luckily, however, guidance is available. The EMA is adamant about families reaching out if they need assistance with the process, and school personnel can also be helpful.

Here are the steps for requesting accommodations on the SSAT:

1) Apply for accommodations online

Students must create an account on SSAT.org, log in, and click “SSAT Testing.” Next, click “Apply for / View my Accommodations.”

At this point, you should see a button that says “Click to Apply for Testing Accommodations.”

Once you’ve clicked this, you’ll be taken through the accommodations application, which requires parents to input the following:

  • Background information about the student’s disability
  • Type of accommodations requested
  • Contact information for an approver (usually school personnel)

The EMA recommends that parents choose an approver who is a school-based professional, such as a school psychologist or learning specialist. We recommend that you identify this approver before even starting the application process.

2) Submit documentation (via an approver)

After you’ve submitted your application, your approver will receive a link that will direct them to a secure online form. Here, they will confirm the request(s) for accommodations and upload relevant documentation.

Some students may qualify for “Direct Access,” which means they don’t have to submit any documentation at this step. A student is eligible for Direct Access if

  • their approver is school-based
  • documentation on file is an IEP, 504 Accommodation Plan, Private School Service Plan, or other formal documentation
  • all testing accommodations “match” the student’s disabilities

3) Register for the SSAT if approved

Families can expect to hear the verdict of their request within 3-4 weeks. If you are approved for accommodations, congrats!

The next step is to register for an SSAT exam. Simply navigate to SSAT.org to complete the registration process, but be sure to indicate that your student needs testing accommodations when you do!

Your student’s testing accommodations will automatically link to their registration, and their admission ticket should specify the accommodations.

Keep in mind that you’ll still have to meet registration deadlines if you have accommodation approval. Here’s a chart specifying registration deadlines with accommodations for 2019-2020 SSAT exams:

SSAT Testing Accommodations_Registration Deadline


What Happens if I’m Not Approved?

If you aren’t approved for SSAT testing accommodations, don’t worry! There’s still hope.

The EMA will give its rationale for not approving a request in its denial letter. In some cases, it may “partially” approve a request, provided that approvers submit additional documentation.

In this case, work closely with your approver to fill in any of these documentation “gaps.”

If the EMA hasn’t asked for additional documentation, you have three options:

  1. Resubmit the same request through your approver (in case there was a mistake the first time)
  2. Choose a different approver to process the request
  3. Take the SSAT with approved accommodations (if granted only partial accommodations)

We recommend pursuing the first two options, and saving the final one as a last resort only.


Frequently Asked Questions

We understand that the world of SSAT testing accommodations can be confusing and downright daunting. Here are our answers to some additional questions families may have as they navigate this process.

How soon should I request SSAT testing accommodations?

We strongly encourage families to start the process of requesting accommodations as soon as possible. This is because it can take 3-4 weeks for review and processing of your request.

How long are SSAT testing accommodations good for?

If you are approved for accommodations, these are valid for the remainder of that SSAT testing season. An SSAT testing season is from August 1st to July 31st.

So, if you earn accommodations in September 2020, you can use these for all exams up to July 31st of 2021.

Should my student take a Flex Test if he/she has accommodations?

Flex Tests allow students to take the SSAT on any date other than a standard administration test date.

Yes, you can register for a Flex Test if you have accommodations. In fact, many students prefer Flex Testing with accommodations as these environments may be more private (and thus conducive to certain kinds of accommodations).

However, you don’t have to take a Flex Test if you have accommodations. Learn more about SSAT Flex Tests here.


Next Steps

It is possible to successfully request SSAT testing accommodations, especially with the right documentation and a helpful approver.

We encourage families to start the requesting process as soon as possible, though, given that the process can be a bit tricky to navigate. This is particularly important for families working with a tighter testing timeline.

In the meantime, we’re here to help your student succeed on the SSAT. Learn more about our test prep offerings here!


Kate_Princeton Tutoring_AuthorBio Kate M.

Kate is a graduate of Princeton University (B.A. in English Literature and Interdisciplinary Humanities) and Boston University (M.F.A in Creative Writing). Over the last decade, Kate has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay. She is a Master tutor at Princeton Tutoring.