High School Testing for Homeschoolers

High School Testing for Homeschoolers

Testing often gets a bad rap in the homeschooling world. Could it be that we are trying to create space for our kids to be free and expressive, without the constraints of externally imposed values?

I want to take a moment to advocate for testing our homeschoolers- especially as they begin looking at the big, “what are you going to do with your life” type of questions.

Testing could and may determine a lot of things for your kids, such as what career they are eligible for if they go into the military, what college or university they get accepted to, how much debt they take out for vocational training post high school, what graduate schools and internships they are eligible for and more. Furthermore, tests can indicate disabilities and allow parents and advisors to seek out services and that can enable students to succeed where they might otherwise fail, or get certifications and training that wouldn’t be possible for them without accommodations.

While test taking might seem like a way to pigeon hole our kids, in many ways, their future will be impacted by their ability to take tests well. Some kids are naturally good test takers; some are not.

A general high school test schedule might look like the following:

High School Testing – 10th Grade

PSAT -The PSAT is a qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship Program. Each year the top 1% of 11th grade PSAT takers become semi-finalists.  This is also considered a PSAT prep test.

ACT/SAT Test Prep – These tests attempt to measure college readiness and predict future success. Familiarity with each test and understanding test strategies (should you guess at questions to answer them or is it better to leave questions you aren’t sure about unanswered, etc.) will improve test scores, and many test-prep guides suggest doing at least three practice tests to ensure your best score.

The ACT – The ACT measures what a student already knows and will have learned throughout high school. Research indicates that 50% of those who re-take the ACT a second time improve their scores

The SAT –  The SAT is a predictor of what the student is capable of. It deals with material that the student may not have learned in high school. There is no evidence that re-taking the SAT improves scores.

Students can take the ACT and SAT multiple times as long as they pay the exam fee.

High School Testing – 10th-12th Grade

AP Exams (Advanced Placement)- Colleges and Universities may or may not accept AP tests for credits/ Classes

CLEP exams (College Level Exam Placement) Students can begin taking CLEP exams as early as they want. CLEP tests scores can be “banked” for many years, but not all colleges and universities may accept CLEP tests for Credits/ classes.

High School Testing – 11th & 12th Grade

ACT – 11th & 12th

PSAT/ NMSQT, or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test)– This test unlocks millions of dollars in scholarship money for qualifying students. Additionally, it can be a good indicator of how well students will perform on the SAT.

What about testing for military enlistment?

ASVAB Test – This test is given before joining the military (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery). This one is a skills discovery test.

What about testing for Community College?

What if your student has plans to go to the local Community College instead of college or military? Will they be required to take the ACT/ SAT? Probably not, unless they want to Dual Enroll as a high schooler, in which case, they may need to take a standardized test. Otherwise, a high school transcript or a GED should suffice.

Having a general idea of what your student wants to do after high school can help you determine what tests to take and what test schedule makes the most sense for you.

If you are still unsure about how to proceed, check out our Academic Advising Packages and Orienteering Course.

Testing is often a hot button word in the homeschooling community. Should we test? If so, when and how? Check out our thoughts on high school testing for homeschool students! #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #testing #homeschoolhighschool

5 Benefits of Standardized Testing

5 Benefits of Standardized Testing

Regardless of how over or underprepared you might feel for a standardized test, bring it up amongst homeschoolers, and you are sure to elicit strong opinions! I would propose that standardized testing, while not the only standard of measure, can provide some excellent benefits to students and parents, not the least of which is scholarship money for colleges and universities!  So what are some benefits of standardized testing?

Identify Strengths and Weaknesses

First, early test taking can identify strengths and shore up areas of weakness by giving parents the information they need to adequately resource their kids. Early intervention can save both parents and kids years of heart-ache, as resources abound for learning disabilities, processing disorders, and gifted students.

Learn Prioritization

A standardized test teaches student’s prioritization, not only in learning material but in test-taking strategies. While every standardized test is different, there are specific test-taking strategies that will benefit test takers across the board. Students who can triage and prioritize test information well will score better – not only on the test but in so many other situations as well!

Intentional Practice

As students practice tests that they are initially unfamiliar with, they will gain an understanding of what the test is asking for and the strategies required for it.  They will also build fluency, speed, and accuracy if the test is approached with intention.  Most tests have a test-taking strategy and learning to understand the particular strategy of the test will allow students to successfully take the test. For instance, memorizing instructions on the sub-sections of the ACT/ SAT will enable students to save time when they get to those sections. Test-taking wisdom decrees a limit of three times for the test taker to understand the test.

Reduce Test Anxiety

Practicing the skill of test-taking reduces test anxiety, allowing the student to score better. What exactly is test anxiety? It is a feeling of agitation or distress that negatively impacts a student’s ability to perform well on tests. While some stress may be normal, when approaching a standardized test, keeping the test taker alert.  Too much test anxiety can cause physical or emotional distress and perhaps even concentration difficulties, negatively affecting the test takers ability to perform well.
 
Students with test anxiety will do better if they don’t go into the test cold. Familiarity and test strategies will ease the test takers anxiety, allowing them to score better overall. Not only that but mastering one’s fear in one area will resource students with the information they need to master anxiety in other situations as well.

Test results can result in Opportunities & Scholarship Money

 Even 1 point higher on the ACT can result in up to $5,000 more per year in awarded tuition from the awarding school. Some schools will take the highest composite score of all tests taken, which can result in thousands of additional dollars granted. Mark Skoskiewica, founder of MyGuru explains how just 1 or 2 points higher in an individual area can result in thousands of dollars more in scholarship money. However, students should begin testing earlier than their spring of 11th grade or fall of 12th grade to have plenty of time to increase their test scores.
Did you know that True North Homeschool Academy offers a standardized testing program?  
 
What’s so great about our program?  First, it is a reliable, valid test that will meet state testing requirement guidelines.  It will allow your student to take the test in the privacy of their own home.  The test is also private and secure (no data mining- your student will not be tracked!) and allows them to take the test more than once during the testing cycle.  Check out the Performance Series test today!

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