Home Schooling and College Entrance Exams

Once you near the end of home schooling and college planning time begins, your student will need to start thinking about and preparing for the not-so-fun... college entrance exams!

Some of the college entrance exams you will come across in your college planning journey are the SAT, ACT, PSAT/NMSQT and TOEFL exams.

The ACT is three hour achievement test, measuring what a student has learned in school.

There are five areas that your student will be tested: English, math, reading and science and writing (additional 30 minute exam).

The SAT is a three and a half hour aptitude test that measures reasoning abilities for critical reading, writing and math.

Most colleges accept either the SAT or the ACT (with or without the writing) test scores.

Which Test Should I Take?

Previously Midwest schools used to favor the ACT exam and colleges on the east and west coasts preferred the SAT. However, before your teen prepares for testing, check with the school you want to go to, to see which test they recommend. Some colleges may also require you to take the three SAT subject tests, in addition to the SAT or ACT exam.

The colleges our teens applied to, did not require the SAT subject tests, so they did not have to take those tests. American University, actually changed their admission requirements the year our second oldest applied to their School of Public Affairs. Previously, home schooled students were required to submit test scores with their application; in 2011, AU changed their policies, and a home schooled student can opt to not include their test scores during the application process.

The TOEFL exam is for those who are not native English speakers and want to study at US universities and colleges.

Although many think that the PSAT is a pre-SAT test, it isn't. Taking the PSAT allows your child to be eligible for national merit scholarships, etc.

Test fees range from $31-$45 for the basic test. You will pay extra fees for any additional test supplements and services or score reports you request.

ACT/SAT Testing Sites

Home schooling and college bound teens can register to take the SAT or ACT exams easily through the official ACT and SAT websites, or by finding and calling a local testing center.

For more information on the SAT, as well as finding a testing site for home schooling students, visit: http://www.collegeboard.com/testing/

For more information on the ACT test as well as test prep and registering information, for home schooling students, visit: http://www.actstudent.org/

Your home schooling and college bound student may be eligible to take the exams through your local school district.

When our teens took their tests in Michigan, we registered our daughters at the local public school with no problems.

When my daughter registered online for the ACTs, there was an option for home schooled students during the registration process; test scores will be sent to your home, and not figured into the district's results.

College Exam Preparation

Prepping for college entrance examinations can help your home schooling student increase their scores and familiarize themselves with standardized testing, especially if they haven't had much testing experience.

We hadn't done much testing in our family previously and both my teens did well on their tests.

Your student can prepare for the ACT/SAT exams by taking classes through a local community center, school, home school group, or through one-on-one tutoring.

Another great money-saving way to prep for the tests is purchasing study materials that your student can go through at home. We found a variety of testing materials at our library - for free!

Kaplan offers some great books and software programs with full length practice tests, and test-taking tips. Other popular publishers include The Princeton Review and The College Board.

Amazon carries lots of new and used SAT test prep resources for test-taking teens and penny-pinching parents!

If your student is preparing for the ACT test, Amazon also stocks lots of discounted ACT test prep materials resources for your test-prepping teen. You will find great discounts on new products but always check for used items before purchasing new, to save extra money.

Our daughter prepared for her SATs using various resources, from study guides we found at our library and online, to classes offered in the area.

Finally, College Test Taking Tips...

Get a good night's sleep. You will want to be well rested and wide-awake for your very long testing day!

Set your alarm clock early. Who wants to take a test while still half asleep?! Getting up early will help you become fully awake and get to the test center on time.

Eat a good breakfast. It's a proven fact that proper hydration and nutrition can help you think and learn better, so eat a healthy breakfast.

Dress comfortably and layer your clothing; you don't want to be too hot or too cold which can distract you while taking your test.

Take a deep breath and... enjoy some well-deserved home schooling and college entrance exam success! :)

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