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When a disability impacts a student’s ability to write, a student may request permission to use the word-processing function of a computer to write essays and short-answer responses. Students approved to use a computer on the SAT take the exam in their own school, instead of a designated test center.

Limitations on Computer Use

The use of a computer is limited as follows:

  • Computers (word processors) may be used only to record essay and short-answer responses. They may not be used for multiple-choice sections.
  • Any assistive technology (such as screen readers), special programs, tools, or apps must be individually requested and approved. The computer accommodation is for the use of a word processor only.
  • A school computer must be used.
  • Use of spell-check, grammar-check, word prediction, and cut-and-paste features are not permitted and must be disabled.

Eligibility for Computer Use

Students allowed to use a computer to take school tests are not necessarily eligible for a computer accommodation on College Board exams because College Board exams can differ from classroom tests. The computer accommodation is appropriate for students who have a disability that impacts their written language expression. Examples include students with the following disabilities:

  • Physical disabilities that impair the ability to write
  • Dysgraphia
  • Severe language-based learning disorders

The computer accommodation is not appropriate for these students:

  • Students with poor handwriting, unless there is evidence to show it’s caused by a disabling condition. Poor handwriting is not considered a disability.
  • Students with a disability that does not impact their fine motor or written expression skills.
  • Students who need assistance only with spelling. Spelling is not a factor in the scoring of essay questions, and spell-check is disabled when a computer is used.
  • Students who have difficulty bubbling in answers to multiple-choice questions. These students should request an enlarged (large-block) answer sheet, which enables students to mark the response with an “X.”

Some students who need assistance with writing may require an accommodation other than, or in addition to, the use of a computer. Here are some examples:

  • Large print (large-block) answer sheet (See Other Accommodations)
  • Writing answers in test booklet
  • Writer/scribe 

Generally, a student would not need both a scribe and a computer, as the scribe is expected to record all answers, including the essay.

Learn how to document requests for computer accommodation.