SAT, ACT, AP, and more.
One of the beautiful aspects of homeschooling is that families can choose the path that suits their child. However when applying to college there are certain requirements that all applicants must meet. In particular a number of institutions of higher learning require standardized test results. There does exist a growing number of schools that do not require test scores. You may hear the term “test optional” for these scores. Visit http://fairtest.org/university/optional for a current listing of such schools. Nevertheless as a homeschooling applicant some schools may request additional test scores from you. It’s important to check with the institutions of interest before applying.
So what are these standardized tests?
- SAT —
The test covers math reasoning and verbal reasoning skills. For dates on SAT administration take a look at https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register . Many schools require SAT scores as part of the college application packet. I would encourage you not to wait until the months before applications are due to take the test for the first time.
- ACT —
The ACT covers four areas: mathematics, science reasoning, English, and reading. You can find additional information on the ACT at https://www.act.org/content/act/en/students-and-parents.html . Many colleges and universities will accept either the ACT or SAT. There are charts that allow admissions offices to compare SAT and ACT scores.
- SAT II –
It is an hour long test covering a given subject such as literature, biology, or a foreign language. Some schools will require scores from two or three subject tests as part of the admissions package. Get additional information on SAT II examinations.
- AP —
Advanced Placement . This is a way to take college level coursework while in high school and take an exam in May in an effort to earn college credit. To see a list of schools that offer AP college credit and the scores required visit https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/choosing-courses .
NOTE: If you want to create a AP course syllabus then you will need to fulfill the requirements of the AP audit. Additional information on the AP audit process is at https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses/ap-course-audit/about .
- CLEP —
College Level Examination Program. These exams take between 90 – 120 minutes and certain institutions will confer college credit. For a listing of exams visit https://clep.collegeboard.org/exams .
CLEP exams are available to take throughout the year unlike the AP exam which is offered in May (close to the end of the traditional academic school year).
When I speak at seminars and conferences attendees ask me how to prepare a learner who has never taken a standardized test.
One way to expose your learner to a standardized test environment is to simulate it at one of your local libraries, a place of worship, or a community center. Have a proctor, have the student bubble in forms, take the requisite break times, and so forth.
A number of years ago I organized a practice session for homeschooled students to take a practice standardized test. We secured a room at the local library and set up the desks to simulate a testing environment. The purpose of this was two-fold: to have the child sit for a specified period of time and to see areas of strengths and weaknesses prior to having the learner take the actual test in a real testing environment. Does your learner have difficulty sitting still during the exam or finishing sections of the exam? Perhaps it is due to test anxiety or there may be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed?It’s better to find these things out sooner rather than later. You can obtain practice test books from your library.
Another way to prepare is to incorporate a section of the test in the curriculum during the week or on the weekend. I would set the timer for the specified time, administer the test, and then grade it. Based on the results I could adapt the test preparation accordingly.
Contact me at msrobin [at] shahir [dot] com if any questions or request for future topics.