When I was in high school, I took a total of three AP classes and exams- AP Psychology, AP English Language and Composition, and AP Environmental Science. In addition to studying for my exams, I also had to study how to get AP exam accommodations for low vision, as traditional pencil and paper exams with standard-sized print are inaccessible to me. Since I was somewhat familiar with testing accommodations for low vision, the process for getting disability accommodations for AP exams wasn’t overly stressful, though it’s critical that students and parents know what accommodations are available and how to request them, and that they start working with their school testing coordinator as soon as possible. Here are my tips on requesting AP accommodations for low vision, based on my own experiences.
How to file for AP Test disability accommodations
Accommodations will need to be filed in advance
Unlike SATs, there are specific deadlines to receive accommodations for AP exams. Students who plan to take the exam will need to have their exam ordered by mid-November, and all requests for accommodations and supporting documentation must be submitted by mid-January. Requests for accommodations are not submitted through AP Registration and Ordering and must be filed through College Board Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD)- these requests are typically filed by the school testing coordinator.
Request specific accommodations
AP accommodations for low vision will need to be as specific as possible, and it’s not uncommon for someone to have over a dozen accommodations listed because of this. For example, a student would need to request computer access for a test, plus access to a screen-reader and access to a screen magnifier- these are three separate accommodations. Some accommodations can also only be implemented in a school-based testing center, not at a weekend testing center. I go into more detail about the specific accommodations I received in the next few sections.
Submitting documentation for accommodations
In order to get AP accommodations for low vision, the testing coordinator had to submit supporting documentation that provided information about why these accommodations were being requested. My family and I provided the following documentation, which was sent to the College Board for review:
- A copy of my latest IEP
- A note from my ophthalmologist that listed my diagnosis of accommodative esotropia, visual acuity/visual fields, and recommendations for accessible print materials
Getting AP accommodations approved
About a month after we submitted the documentation and forms requesting SAT disability accommodations, I was approved for all of the accommodations that we had requested, and I was able to take the test on the day that I expected. My accommodations were updated when I went to take the SAT, so we had to submit documentation again to get the updated accommodations.
AP exam score delay
Because I received my AP exam in an accessible format, I had to wait an additional 4-6 weeks after scores were released to receive my own scores, as there is typically a delay with scoring tests that are in modified formats. However, there is no way for a person to know that a student received accommodations unless the student discloses it themselves.
- SAT Accommodations for Low Vision
- Testing Accommodations For Low Vision Students
- Introduction To Low Vision IEPs: Post Round-Up
- SOL Test Accommodations And Low Vision
- Link from College Board on filing for accommodations
Filling out forms before test day
Before taking the AP exam, students have to fill out several forms that cover a lot of information, such as where the test scores should be sent, where the test is being taken, and other information. My case manager and I filled out these forms a day or two before the test so that we would be able to save time on test day, and I had brought a note with the college code for my top choice college so that I could submit my AP exam scores there.
Environmental accommodations for AP Exams
The following accommodations are related to the testing environment in which I took my AP exams. I have noted where these accommodations appear in Section 12 of the Student Eligibility Form provided by the College Board.
- 12.4- Computer/word processor for essays (note that these are called Free Response Questions or FRQs on the AP exam). I used Microsoft Word with the dictionary, encyclopedia, and internet functions disabled, and my answers were printed after I finished typing
- 12.5- Small group testing. I took my AP exams in a conference room at my school with at least two staff members present
- 12.5- Other. A note was written in that we would have lamps turned on instead of overhead lights, which had previously been an approved accommodation for my state standardized tests
Can I request both a scribe and computer/word processor for essays?
The form for requesting accommodations states in section 12.4 that users cannot select both a computer/word processor for essays accommodation and a scribe accommodation. However, I spoke with a representative from the College Board’s SSD office in May 2021 and they stated that if a student has supporting documentation that shows why they would need both of these accommodations, then it will likely be approved. This could mean that the student would be able to type their own answers for the essay portion and then later work with the scribe on the multiple-choice questions. Students will need to work with their testing coordinator to determine if this accommodation will work best for them.
- Computer Lab Accommodations For Low Vision Students
- Lighting And Low Vision
- ACT Accommodations For Low Vision
- The Ultimate Guide to CLEP Exams
Accommodations for the AP exam
The following accommodations are related to the characteristics of the accessible SAT test. I have noted where these accommodations appear in Section 12 of the Student Eligibility Form provided by the College Board.
- 12.1- 50% extended time, also known as time and a half, for reading and written language expression. I did not take any math-related AP tests.
- 12.3- Large print test book, 20 pt. The test book itself was an 8.5″ x 11″ spiral-bound book with thick paper, and questions were printed in Arial font. Images were enlarged 250%
- 12.3- Magnifier. I was able to use a handheld magnifying glass for enlarging information, though if I could go back in time I would have requested a magnifying machine (also known as a CCTV or video magnifier) instead.
- 12.4- Large block answer sheet/no bubbles. Since I still had trouble filling in the answer sheet, I had to read my answers to the test proctor who filled in the answer sheet for me.
- 12.5- Other, use of Sharpie pens to mark answers
- How I Document Accessibility Preferences With Low Vision
- Magnifying Glasses For Low Vision
- Writing Utensils and Low Vision
List of AP exam accommodations for low vision students
My official AP exam accommodations read as follows:
- 12.1- 50% extended time, also known as time and a half, for reading and written language expression
- 12.3- Large print test book, 20 pt
- 12.3- Magnifier
- 12.4- Computer/word processor for essays
- 12.4- Large block answer sheet/no bubbles
- 12.5- Other, use of lamps instead of overhead lights
- 12.5- Other, use of Sharpie pens to mark answers