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Autism, SAT Tests, and the Coronavirus

Autism, SAT Tests, and the Coronavirus

My child is a junior in high school who took his SAT exam in the fall (2019).

What was the process like?

Well, when he was a sophomore he took the PSAT, the practice SAT. This is standard for sophomores who want to attend college.

He did fairly well on the PSAT, all without studying.

As a way to prepare for the SAT, we signed up my son for an SAT tutor.

Why did we choose a tutor?

Even though the tutor cost more than a class, (some of the SAT prep classes are free!), I felt my son would learn about this specialize test better in a one on one situation. I envisioned him in a Saturday class and getting distracted and being annoyed because he had to be in a Saturday class.

I envisioned him not getting what he needed out of a class because he already succeeds in six classes five days a week. I felt asking him to do one more was asking too much, especially since the SAT test is rather specialized.

The SAT questions are tricky. It takes practice to get good at answering them. My son is very intelligent, yet the SAT questions are designed to trick, almost to undermine a child’s intelligence.

Unless you obtain the skills to answer the questions with your intelligence.

The one on one tutor came recommended to us by an older student with high-functioning autism similar to my son’s autism.

It turned out great. This tutor was awesome.

What about the test?

My son had accommodations for taking his SAT. We requested these accommodations at his last IEP and the SAT college board accepted the requests.

What were the accommodations?

He had extended time, more breaks, and a small classroom.

My son took his SAT at his high school as opposed to a testing center. He was proctored by his school counselor. Turns out, he was the only one taking the test on test day. He was a student of one.

I encouraged my son to shower the night before and go to bed at a reasonable time. I got him up on time to get a good breakfast on SAT test day.

He brought snacks, several sharpened pencils, and an SAT-approved calculator, along with his SAT registration paperwork.

He brought his phone, but the counselor locked it in her office during the test.

We met his counsel in front of the school on time.

The test took about six hours total (with breaks). His test included the essay writing portion, which was recommended by the SAT tutor.

My son said he was happy with the test taking.

We got his scores a few weeks later. He did well.

What were our plans before the coronavirus?

Our son was scheduled to retake the SAT in May, 2020. We were thinking that with more practice/tutoring, then he could improve his already decent scores.

Then, we also had thoughts that maybe he could take the ACT in the fall of 2020.

The ACT covers more subject matters and the test questions (according to my information) are easier to interpret. I took both (a long, long time ago) and did better on the ACT.

What happened due to the pandemic?

Our son’s May exam has been canceled and our money refunded.

What are our plans?

Well, wait and see, I guess.

First, colleges seem to be in discussions about these tests and whether they’ll be needed in the future post-pandemic. Due to the pandemic, will colleges require SAT or ACT exam results? Or, will they refer only to grades and other means of evaluating a student for admission?

What will colleges require for incoming freshman in the fall of 2020?

And, future into the future, what will they require for the incoming class of 2021 (my son’s college freshman class)?

And, then there’s the still-open question of whether colleges this fall will begin online only.

For now, our son will not retake the SAT this semester. Or, perhaps not even next fall.

He may not even take the ACT.

Our son plans to go to our local community college for two years anyway, so he might be completely done with either the SAT or the ACT.


Yes, things are still up in the air. For us, and for everyone.

We were pleased with how hard he worked to prepare and how he handled himself during the SAT test. Even if he chooses to take it again to try to improve his grades, I feel he’s accomplished something very important. Another skill. An important step on his way to college.

Autism, SAT Tests, and the Coronavirus



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