Yeah-- there can be additional complications if you have particular types of accommodations, such as "breaks as needed" for a medical condition. That automatically means individual testing, not at a "center" but at a school, and if you aren't in an urban area in a large school, then you may have to beg a seat with another school. Obviously if you homeschool or use a virtual school, you don't have a "home school" to test at, so you have to call around to find one willing. That sounds trivial, but it's not.

Outside of urban centers, scheduling tests is really not trivial. I'm emphasizing the need to look-- specifically at which tests are offered on which dates and at which local locations. It's complicated. smile It's hard to avoid needing to test at a school/site not your own, basically.

Different test site coordinators may be more-- or less-- helpful with kids not their own, too. That's kind of a pain when you test under normal conditions-- but it's REALLY a hassle if you're testing with accommodations of any kind.

(Thus my aside about just not seeing how DD can possibly do a subject test... yes, she has accommodations, but it took moving heaven and earth just to get her a seat for the one time she took the SAT. Lots of butt kissing on mom's part, let's just say, and revealing just how well she did on the PSAT. Apparently being "elite" material meant that she was "worth" the trouble of accommodations... to the test site administrator. :gag: ) The reason we sought accommodations via College Board rather than ACT (they are different entities) is that AP, CLEP, SAT, PSAT, etc. are all administratively under the same umbrella. Technically, that meant that a single approval could be used to test with the same accommodations for any of those tests-- in perpetuity. The practical reality is that the barriers that exist to getting a "special" seat for a test mean that it takes months and months of phone tag and uncertainty to get a testing ticket anyway.

Oh-- and get a state-issued ID (or that national thing that I can't mention that lets you back into the country... wink ) because your child WILL need that to be seated for a standardized test, regardless of age.

Seriously: plan ahead. If you have any-- ANY-- special circumstances, TRIPLE that planning time. At least.

We're already looking and there are just four places that DD can take the ACT any time prior to the end of 2013 around us (and by around I mean within 65 mi)-- without accommodations, which still makes us pretty nervous. That one varies regionally-- being in the west means that the SAT much more widely offered than the ACT.

I'd say that parents ought to start thinking critically about what kinds of people their kids are as students and as individuals about middle school. That's going to guide a LOT of college decision-making. It's probably not a good idea to start that process sooner, though, because kids change so much during adolescence.

For example, we were looking at fairly rural settings and very small schools-- Grinnell, Bryn Mawr, etc. until recently, when DD decided that she really wants to live in an urban setting for undergrad. Then we started looking at places like Reed, Drexel, Claremont, Rice, etc.

We also wanted a mixture of both STEM and arts/humanities, with some established culture of interdisciplinary studies, since DD leans both ways and hasn't decided yet precisely what she wants to do. A school that has a history of very young matriculants gets a bonus score, and it's the reason that UW made our list.

Also be aware that more and more campuses are moving toward mandatory freshman dorm residency. If that is not part of your vision, keep that on your radar as a preference.

Oh, and one other thing to remember about public versus private institutions-- different categories for the purposes of disability. Likely as not that isn't a major consideration for most students, but it's something to be aware of.

Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.