December 6, 2017

ACT Broadens Supports for English Language Learners


College entrance exams can be a stressful endeavor for even the strongest of students. Exam time can be especially stressful for international students, who have the additional challenge of completing the test in a second language.

Most colleges accept both the ACT and the SAT along with the student’s application. However, a new accommodation now offered by ACT may make it more appealing for English Language Learners deciding whether to take the ACT or the SAT. Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, ACT can approve special accommodations to English Language Learners, allowing them to demonstrate knowledge without being held back by language. The accommodations include:

  • Test instructions in the native language (Modern Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese are all available.)
  • Extended time up to 150% of the total time allowed
  • Opportunity to take the exam in a smaller setting
  • Opportunity to use a word-to-word approved dictionary
  • Opportunity to use an ACT-approved, clean dictionary

These accommodations are available to students who speak English as a second language, including those who have studied in the U.S. for multiple years. To receive the accommodation, a student must apply for the accommodation, provide documentation supporting the application, and receive approval for the accommodation from ACT. Here are the steps to receiving this accommodation:

  1. The student sets up an account with ACT and completes registration for the test.
  2. The student selects “accommodation” when completing the registration.
  3. After registration, the student contacts the high school counseling office to request that the school submit documentation to ACT indicating that the student speaks English as a second language.
  4. The school submits the required documentation and requests the accommodations.
  5. ACT responds to the school within two weeks of the request with the results of the application.

Important to note is the earlier deadline for registration with ACT when using an accommodation request. Also important to note is that test monitors and ACT employees are not allowed to share any information about students and accommodations. College and university admissions officers receive no information that the student has received an accommodation.

For announcement of the official plan, please visit the ACT website and details for registration and accommodations here.

Students are encouraged to speak with their school counselors for more information.

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