Students with Learning Differences

Students with Learning Differences

By law, colleges and universities cannot deny entrance solely based on learning differences - but they are also, by law, under no obligation to alter their admissions standards. Translated, this means that students with learning differences must meet the same criteria established by admissions committees for all prospective students. With that said, some colleges provide student with differences an alternative or exceptional application process.

Testing Accommodations

Students with documented learning differences can be eligible for accommodations on the PSAT, SAT Reasoning, SAT Subject, ACT and/or AP testing. Becoming eligible for accommodations on the PSAT, SAT, or AP exams involves submitting an application form to the College Board. The College Board makes their decision based on the following evidence:

  • The evaluation is no more than 5 years old and was conducted by a licensed professional.
  • There is a stated diagnosis in the evaluation ( “specific learning disability” is not specific enough).
  • Accommodations being requested for the exam are explicitly mentioned in Recommendations section of the evaluation.
  • Cognitive and processing scores confirm the existence of underlying processing deficits.
  • Evaluation includes proof that the student actually benefits from the additional time being requested.
  • The school verifies that the student has been using the accommodations being requested at school for the last four months.

The requirements for receiving accommodations on the ACT exam are similar to those required by the College Board. However, requesting accommodations on the ACT is a completely separate process. Please be aware that, even if a licensed professional recommends that a student receive 100-150% additional time, the College Board very rarely approves more than 50% additional time.

Once the College Board receives an application, it usually takes about six weeks to receive a letter in the mail approving or denying the accommodations being requested.

If you would like to initiate the application for accommodations process or if you have any further questions about the information provided above, please contact Marlies McCallum, Director of Gateway’s Learning Center. You may also wish to research the following websites:

Support Services For Admitted Students with Learning Differences 

Most colleges provide support and/or accommodations for students with disabilities. Students may need to provide documentation of their learning disability to receive support and/or accommodations. Details about each college's support program can be found on their website. Other helpful websites include: