ACT Accommodations for ELL Students

Instructor: Jessica Keys
Beginning in Fall 2017, the ACT will offer accommodations for English language learners. Check out this article to learn more about what's in store for ELL students and explore other types of testing accommodations currently available.

ELL Accommodations for the ACT

For now, the ACT's testing accommodations are generally made only for students with documented disabilities and learning disorders (including ADHD and autism spectrum disorders). Limited proficiency in English alone is not considered a basis for additional support.

Some states that have made the test a requirement for high school juniors offer their own accommodations to ELL students taking the test, but students who use them cannot report their test scores to colleges.

Upcoming Policy Changes

The ACT is in the process of changing these policies and enhancing support for ELL students to make sure that everyone receives a fair assessment of their knowledge, regardless of background or proficiency in English.

Starting in Fall 2017, students in English language programs at their school may be eligible for ACT-approved testing accommodations, including:

  • Instructions in their native language
  • Additional time to finish the test
  • Usage of a bilingual glossary (must be approved and include word-to-word translations only)
  • Testing in a separate room for improved concentration

Moreover, students using such accommodations will now be allowed to report their scores to colleges.

What to Expect

It is important to note that ELL students receiving accommodations do not take a different or simplified version of the test. They take the same test that everybody else takes. The intention of any accommodation is not to make the ACT easier for certain people, but to make the testing experience more fair. And, as in other cases, simply requesting these accommodations is not a guarantee that they will be made available; ELL students seeking extra support will have their cases reviewed individually by their schools.

Other Accommodation Types

Students who need additional support outside of the services to be provided for ELL students are given the chance to request other accommodations during the registration process. These accommodations may be national (meaning they are available at any testing center) or special (meaning the test may have to be administered in another location):

  • National accommodations include wheelchair accessibility, extended test time, a sign-language interpreter (for spoken test instructions), large-type test booklets and help marking answers in the booklet.
  • Special accommodations include different test booklet formats (e.g. braille, DVD/oral presentation of questions), use of a computer during the writing portion and multiple-day testing.

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