Documentation Guidelines: Communication Disorders

To receive accommodations for College Board exams, students with communication disorders must make a request to College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD)—even if they have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), a 504 plan, or already receive those accommodations for school or state tests.

All requests should meet seven key criteria.


  1. The diagnosis should be clearly stated.

    Documentation should state the specific communication disorder as diagnosed. The diagnosis should be made by someone with appropriate professional credentials, should be specific, and when appropriate, should relate the disability to professional standards, such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 or whichever edition was current at the time of diagnosis).

    Some examples of communication disorders include:

    • Language disorder
    • Childhood-onset fluency disorder (stuttering)
    • Speech sound disorder (phonological disorder)
    • Social (pragmatic) communication disorder
  2. All information should be current.

    Because disabilities change over time, documentation should be up to date. The acceptable age of documentation depends on the disabling condition, current status of the student, and the specific accommodations requested. Include updates where appropriate.

  3. History should be presented.

    Provide relevant educational, developmental, and medical history in support of the specific diagnosed communication disorder and the functional limitation. Information about the student’s history of receiving school accommodations and current use of accommodations helps College Board understand the nature and severity of the student’s disability and the need for accommodations. Teacher observations are often helpful as well; they may be recorded on the Teacher Survey Form.

  4. The diagnosis should be supported by testing.

    Documentation should describe the comprehensive testing and techniques used to arrive at the specific diagnosed communication disorder. These could include:

    • A speech/language evaluation or neuropsychological evaluation that includes information about expressive and receptive language functioning
    • A cognitive ability test
    • An academic achievement test

    Provide the evaluator’s full report, including:

    • A summary of the assessment procedures and evaluation instruments used to make the diagnosis
    • A narrative summary of the evaluation results
    • Test results with all subtest scores

    Consult our page on commonly used diagnostic tests.

  5. Functional limitations should be described.

    Explain how the identified diagnosed communication disorder currently impacts the student’s academic functioning and ability to participate in College Board exams. Functional limitation can be documented in a variety of ways:

    • Speech/language evaluations.
    • Psychoeducational evaluations, including standardized test scores and narrative. Use national norms to support both the diagnosis and functional limitation.
    • Summary of the student's developmental, educational, and/or medical history.
    • Descriptive information from the school, such as teacher observations, which can be recorded on the Teacher Survey Form.
  6. Recommended accommodations should be justified.

    Provide a detailed rationale for requested accommodations, focusing on:

    • The connection between the student’s diagnosed disability and the requested accommodations
    • Current academic needs of the student, including functional impairments and use of accommodations in school
    • A detailed description of current symptoms—including their frequency, duration, and intensity—could be helpful

    For example, students requesting extended time should document difficulty completing timed tests and include current scores on timed and untimed or extended time tests.

    See documentation guidelines for frequently requested accommodations for requirements specific to extended time, breaks, reading and seeing accommodations, recording responses, use of a four-function calculator, and assistive technology.

  7. Evaluators' professional credentials should be listed.

    To ensure valid testing and diagnosis of a specific communication disorder, evaluators must be licensed by the state in which they practice.