Documentation Guidelines: Learning Disorders

To receive accommodations for College Board exams, students with learning 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 learning disorder as diagnosed. The diagnosis should be made by someone with appropriate professional credentials, should be specific, and should reference the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 or whichever edition was current at the time of diagnosis).

  2. All information should be current.

    Because disabilities change over time, documentation should be up to date. For learning disorders, the educational evaluation and testing should be no more than five years old. Cognitive testing may be older than five years, but testing performed before third grade may not provide a valid indication of the student’s current ability.

  3. History should be presented.

    Provide relevant educational, developmental, and medical history in support of the diagnosis and functional limitations. 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 learning disorder and the need for accommodation. Teacher observations are often helpful as well; they may be recorded on the Teacher Survey Form.

  4. The diagnosis should be supported by testing.

    A note from your treatment provider or evaluator is usually not sufficient to support the need for accommodations. Documentation should describe the comprehensive testing and techniques used to arrive at the specific learning disorder diagnosis. The full report should be provided, including:

    • Relevant educational, developmental, and medical history
    • Standardized test scores for all administered subtests (standard or scaled scores)
    • A narrative summary of evaluation results
    • Tests used to diagnose learning disorders should be comprehensive, nationally normed, and administered individually under standardized conditions

    If extended time is requested, include both timed and untimed or standard time measures.

    If use of a computer is requested for recording responses, information about visual, fine-motor, and/or visual-motor integration deficits as well as a test of written expression should be included.

    If use of a four-function calculator on noncalculator sections is requested, please provide documentation of difficulties with math calculation.

    If assistive technology such as a reader or prerecorded audio (MP3 via streaming) is requested, please include a comprehensive reading assessment.

    Consult our page on commonly used diagnostic tests for frequently used assessments.

  5. Functional limitations should be described.

    Explain how the learning disorder impacts the student’s daily functioning and ability to participate in College Board exams. For example: Does the student work more slowly than other students? Is the student able to read the test? Write an essay?

    Functional limitation can be documented in a variety of ways:

    • 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 the requested accommodations, focusing on:

    • The connection between the student’s diagnosed learning disability and requested accommodations
    • Current academic needs of the student, including functional impairment/s and use of accommodations in school

    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, evaluators must be licensed by the state in which they practice.