The Truth About Extra Time

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A Collegiate senior works hard on finishing her AP Calculus BC homework.

Extended time on school assessments allows students more time to relax, more time to concentrate, and more time to overcome distractions. What could be better for those who benefit? You may have heard students tell their teacher they have extra time on their test and will need to finish it later, but never really knew what they were talking about. According to the College Board, “Students approved for extended time test for a longer period of time than other students.” Students at Collegiate are also granted extra time on tests, quizzes, in-class essays, and exams if they’re tested and approved by a learning specialist. However, getting tested for extended time is harder than more students may think. Some students who don’t benefit from extra time believe all kids should be treated equally in terms of testing times. What they fail to acknowledge is that kids who receive extra time on assessments actually struggle to complete their assignments as quickly as the average student. Students granted extra time have often been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD, Dyslexia, and/or Auditory Processing. Those who don’t believe extra time should be granted are usually the ones who do not know what it’s like to go through school with a learning disability. Extra time allows those who get easily distracted enough time to get distracted and still have enough time to complete their assessment.

Collegiate Upper School Learning Specialist Mrs. Helen Markiewicz supports granting extra time to students who need it, asking, What is the point of an assessment? To see what a student knows, or to see how fast they know it?” Some students are just simply not efficient test takers, while others get frustrated or encounter high anxiety during a timed assessment. Thus, having time to relax and concentrate on the task at hand is most important. Some students find it helpful to take the assessment in a quiet environment where they will avoid the distraction of others finishing before them. Extra time has helped me in immeasurable ways. My brain processes information more slowly than average, so the help of extra time allows me to process all my thoughts and have time to get them on the page,” Mary Katherine Hilb (‘16) comments. Some students work better verbally talking through the questions to themselves, which in essence requires more time. Although students who do not qualify for extra time may regard the principle of extra time unfair, it really helps those who need it reach average grades.

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A Collegiate senior working on her Powerpoint in the school’s Academic Services office.

In addition to in-school assessments, students can also test for extra time on the SAT, ACT, and Subject tests. The eligibility recommended by the College Board consists of the following statement: “Students should request extended time only if their disability causes them to work more slowly than other students. If a student is usually able to complete school-based tests in the allotted time, or if the student’s inability to complete tests is not related to a disability, then extended time should not be requested.” That being said, the College Board offers fifty or one hundred percent more time on their assessments. Some people argue the only reason the SAT is demanding is because students are under a time crunch, making the test unfair for those who receive extended time. While some people are concerned about students putting their honesty in jeopardy during the extended time test to further enhance their studies by receiving more time, attention should be focused on more important matters. The test itself is extremely costly for families, causing a financial burden in some situations. The examination for earning extended time takes very long and requires attending multiple sessions before any recommendations can be made.  

While researching a topic that brings up a large amount of animosity, particularly around those who do not benefit from the opportunity, I learned even more about the angst existing in our country. Amping up test scores through faking learning disabilities and recent news released about students from wealthy zip codes receiving special treatment–those are just a few of the problems educational institutions face today. The College Board denies these allegations simply because they require students to prove his or her accommodation(s) in their current school setting. However, the most controversy stems from those without extra time, “I am jealous of my friends who get extra time simply because they are allowed to spend more time checking over their work,” Carson Pinney (16’) comments. On the other end of the spectrum, students who do benefit express that “extra time changes lives,” meaning the extra minutes have helped them accomplish what they need to without having to worry about how much time they have left.

Photos by Alex Ferrell.

Editors’ Note: The opinions published by The Match are solely those of the authors, and not of the entire publication or its staff as a whole. The Match welcomes thoughtful commentary and response to our content. You can respond in the comments below, but please do so respectfully. Letters to the Editors will be published, but they are subject to revision based on content and length. Letters can be sent to match@collegiate-va.org.

About the author

Class of 2016