Need help deciding whether your child should take the PSAT, SAT, or ACT? Here’s some helpful information to help you start making this decision.
How Do The PSAT, SAT, and ACT Benefit Homeschoolers?
While standardized tests can sometimes put off homeschool families, particularly those who take a homeschool approach more akin to unschooling, there is still immense value in having your student take the PSAT, SAT, ACT, or standardized tests in general.
For one, many college admissions require students’ SAT or ACT scores. And, even if a school your child is considering attending does not require these scores, it can still be helpful to take either test and provide your student’s score. For one, most homeschool programs leave students’ grades up to the parents, so homeschool ACT scores and SAT scores give college admissions a way to see how homeschool students’ abilities compare to others graduating from traditional school.
In addition, these tests can help your student earn scholarships. And, of course, they can serve simply as character-building or skill-developing challenges your student must overcome.
PSAT for Homeschoolers
While there are variations of the PSAT exam, the PSAT/NMSQT is generally regarded as the most common.
What Is the PSAT?
The PSAT/NMSQT — a slightly helpful acronym for the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test — is often taken as practice for the SAT and ACT. This is because college admissions don’t require students’ PSAT scores and because the structure of the PSAT mimics that of the SAT.
However, the PSAT isn’t simply a practice exam. Students’ PSAT scores can determine whether they can receive a National Merit Scholarship to college.
The PSAT includes math, reading, and writing sections. Unlike the SAT, there is no essay portion of the test.
Should Your Student Prepare for the PSAT?
If your student is going to take the PSAT seriously, perhaps competing for the National Merit Scholarship, then preparing is wise. There are numerous PSAT prep books on the market that walk students through types of commonly asked questions as well as practice exams.
Since the PSAT focuses on testing students’ math and English skills, another way to prepare is to focus more on these subjects in your home school in the months and weeks leading up to the exam.
Where Do Homeschoolers Take the PSAT?
Unfortunately, your student cannot take the PSAT at home. However, homeschoolers can take the PSAT at a local high school on one of several dates throughout October. To find a local school where your homeschool student can take the PSAT, visit CollegeBoard.com.
SAT for Homeschoolers
Do homeschoolers have to take the SAT? Well, it depends.
If your student is going to college, chances are your student will have to take the SAT since most colleges require SAT scores for admission. Similarly, most military academies require SAT scores. In addition, your state may require your student to complete a standardized test each year, for which the SAT counts.
In sum, it’s probably wise to register your high school-level student for the SAT.
What Is the SAT?
SAT provides colleges and universities with an understanding of whether students are well-prepared for higher education after high school.
Mainly a multiple-choice exam, the SAT includes a similar structure to the PSAT (math, reading, and writing sections). The SAT also required an essay; however, it has since been made optional. Still, scoring high on the SAT essay can help your student stand out from the crowd.
Should Your Student Prepare for the SAT?
Yes, homeschool students taking the SAT should dedicate time to prepare for it.
Of course, taking the PSAT one to two years before the SAT is a great way to prepare your student for the structure and types of questions on the more advanced exam. Still, it can be helpful to prepare for the SAT in other ways, like working through an SAT prep book, course, or practice exams. Another way to prepare for the SAT is simply to take it two or more times, improving your student’s chances of earning a high score.
Where Do Homeschoolers Take the SAT?
Homeschoolers can take an SAT exam at a local high school or a nearby college. Unlike the PSAT, the SAT is offered on several dates throughout the year. To register for the SAT, find a local school, or view SAT dates for 2022 or 2023, visit CollegeBoard.com.
ACT for Homeschoolers
Finally, your student may want to consider taking the ACT. Some states require this test, although most do not. Still, it’s helpful for homeschoolers to take the ACT for similar reasons as with the SAT — that is, college admissions often require, or at the very least prefer, to review students’ ACT scores.
What Is the ACT?
The ACT, like the SAT, is a multiple-choice college entrance exam taken by students in high school. Its sections include English, math, reading, and science. The ACT also has an optional writing section that consists of an essay.
Should Your Student Prepare for the ACT?
Like with the SAT, your student should spend quality time preparing for the ACT. While most of the knowledge they will be testing on will already be familiar to them, having learned it throughout their years of homeschooling, it’s helpful to still familiarize themselves with the test format and its types of questions.
Students studying for the ACT commonly work through prep books, courses, and practice exams.
Where Do Homeschoolers Take the ACT?
Homeschoolers can take the ACT at a local high school or college. Like the SAT, there are several dates when the ACT is provided throughout the year. To find a testing location and date for your student to take the ACT, visit ACT.org.
Parent of a Younger Student?
How should you prepare your younger student for taking the PSAT, SAT, or ACT, even before they enter high school? A great way to prepare for these advanced tests as a younger student (for example, students in our Foundations or Essentials programs) is to take standardized tests like the CTP or Stanford-10 every year.
Fortunately, taking these tests doesn’t have to be complicated. Homeschool Testing Services, for example, makes administering and evaluating these tests easy, allowing your child to take the test online in the convenience of your own home.
Not yet a Classical Conversations member and interested in our community-based approach to homeschooling? We’d love to hear from you! To learn more about us, click here.