Standardized testing for homeschool high schoolers doesn’t have to be confusing or stressful.
In our journey from homeschool to college nothing has been quite as difficult as people have made it out to be. It just goes to show you that you must stay in your own lane and have confidence in your abilities!
If your child is college bound they will need to think about taking the SAT and/or ACT.
Unless they choose a gap year or school that doesn’t require a standardized test there isn’t a way around the testing requirement.
Begin planning early in their high school career for testing.
Tests are important for college acceptance. You will have to play the testing game to get the scores. You do not, however, need to let the test dictate your child’s homeschool high school career.
What Test(s) Should My Child Take?
Most schools take the SAT or ACT. You should, however, check with a few schools your child might be interested in and confirm what test they should take.
(If you are a classical homeschooler the Classic Learning Test (CLT) is gaining traction, so keep your ears open for schools that accept this innovative college entrance exam.)
Some schools are now test optional. You should still, however, take a standardized test, because many of the test-optional schools will use that score for placement but not entrance.
SAT Subject Tests?
None of the schools my daughter has applied to have asked for the SAT subject tests - so unless you find that you need them, I wouldn’t register for those tests.
ACT with Writing?
Again, none of the applications required us to submit an ACT with writing - so we didn’t worry about that.
When To Take the Tests
I can speak to what we did in our homeschool - and if I had to do it over again I think I would do it in much the same way.
Take the PSAT in the fall of the 10th grade year.
We had to contact our local high school’s guidance counselor to register our homeschooler for the exam. We also found that in our area there were certain high schools that were more “homeschool friendly” than others.
One of our homeschool moms had registered older children before, so she took care of registering a group of our children to take the test together. It was administered on a school day, during school hours.
*If you child takes the PSAT as a junior, those scores are considered for National Merit Scholars. Your test scores from the sophomore year will not be sufficient for National Merit Scholar competition.
10th & 11th Grades:
Register to take the SAT and ACT.
My daughter took each of the tests and then decided which one she preferred. I have also known children who took a practice test of each and then registered for the test they preferred. We chose to take each test on a national testing day so Anna could gain experience taking the test in a testing setting.
Our local library also offered practice testing on a Saturday morning - a great way to get your feet wet!
Our goal was to have all testing complete by the end of 11th grade.
Senior year is busy enough without the worry of taking the test for the first time or improving a test score. You can even take tests during the summer - my daughter took her ACT for the last time the summer after her junior year, which gave her some time during the summer to work through her practice book.
How To Register for the Tests
I found it helpful to print the test dates and registration deadlines.
Simply visit the SAT or ACT site and registration is EASY. You will have to fill out a student profile (might take some time) the first time you register.
You can choose a testing site based on your zip code and your child will take the test (generally on a Saturday) at a local high school.
How to Prepare for the Tests
Honestly, we didn’t get fancy here.
After taking the SAT and ACT one time (with zero prep), my daughter decided she preferred the ACT.
We had also heard that simply having EXPERIENCE taking the test was the best preparation.
She added “test prep” into her weekly schedule and devoted her time to working through her prep books.
One additional tip: We have been working through the SAT and ACT flashcards for a few years - even my middle schooler uses them. It’s never too early to work on increasing their vocabulary!
How Did It All Turn Out?
When it was all said and done my daughter took the SAT once. She took the ACT three times.
She got the score she was wanted.She received a score that will help her obtain scholarships.
The college acceptances have begun to come in - what a spectacular feeling that is!
The amount you take the test and push for a score depends on what your schools are looking for, and what requirements are in place for scholarship eligibility. You must determine this on a case by case basis.
(Oh - and there is something called SUPERSCORING - check that out and determine if your school accepts it for admission, scholarships, etc… Every school is different.)
As a homeschool parent I found that reading aloud (especially the READING ALOUD), and strong fundamentals in math, science, and writing were sufficient preparation throughout her homeschool career. Once we hit 10th grade we began thinking about testing and it became part of our vernacular for the next two years.