From the HSLDA E-lert Service:


8/6/2009 4:31:27 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru High School Newsletter -- August 2009

HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru High School Newsletter -- August 2009
The Scoop on Tests for Teens

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Dear friends,

We hope that the month of August finds you enjoying barbeques, the
pool, and the hammock. Summer is a wonderful opportunity to kick back
and enjoy your teens. While you are relaxing, please know that we've
been working for you! We've organized information on a number of
tests that you may want to consider incorporating into your teen's
plan for the next school year. Many parents of high schoolers have
questions regarding the PSAT, SAT, SAT Subject, ACT, PLAN, Compass,
and Explore tests. Let's take a look at each test specifically in
relation to homeschooled students.

(Note: Even if your teen is unsure about attending college, we
recommend that he take a college entrance test while in high school
when subject knowledge is "fresh" rather than possibly having to take
the test several years after high school.)


PSAT/NMSQT: The Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit
Scholarship Qualifying Test not only prepares students to take the
SAT, but it is also used to qualify for National Merit Scholarships.
It's important to note that only the top 1 - 2 % of those taking the
PSAT will score high enough to be in contention for these

The PSAT test has three sections (Math, Verbal/Critical Reasoning, and
Writing) and
it is administered by the College Board. Your teen may register to
take the PSAT in 10th grade or before for practice. However, taking
the PSAT in the 11th grade (typically the third year of high school)
is a necessary requirement to qualify for the National Merit
Scholarship competition.

Homeschoolers register for the PSAT by contacting a local public or
private school in their area. Because the PSAT is offered only in
October of each year and many schools place orders for the test early,
parents interested in their teens taking this test should contact the
school sometime in June prior to the October test date. Ask the school
(where the test will be taken) for the free PSAT Student Guide
he Student Guide provides test taking tips, practice problems with
explanatory answers, and even a full length practice test that will
enable your child to feel comfortable with the format and types of
problems that he will encounter on the PSAT.

When registering for the test, provide the state-specific homeschool
code for the PSAT. Using this code ensures that the test results will
be sent to your home rather than to the school at which the test was

If you encounter a school that will not accommodate your teen, call
another one in your area. If you cannot find a school that will
accommodate your teen for the PSAT and you are a member of HSLDA,
please call our legal department for advice.

College Entrance Tests

The SAT and the ACT are the two primary tests used by college
officials when evaluating applicants for admission. Most colleges
will accept either of these two tests, but it is a good idea to check
an individual college's website to find out if one of the tests is
preferred. We are often asked if it's best to take one test or the
other or if both tests should be taken. This is a matter of personal
preference. The SAT is a reasoning test - the student is required to
take knowledge and apply it - while the ACT tests a student's
knowledge of specific subject matter in four categories. Some students
naturally may do better on one test than the other, so if your teen
doesn't receive the score he'd like on the SAT, then he may want to
try the ACT or vice versa.

Especially in the case of a homeschooled applicant, it is important to
do well on the SAT or ACT because colleges view these test scores as
objective and credible indicators of a student's readiness to do
college level work. These test scores are also often used by
scholarship committees as part of their criteria for awarding
scholarships. Therefore, we recommend that students prepare for these
tests by using some type of test prep materials.

The SAT test may be taken as many times as you desire - or until your
money runs out! The ACT, on the other hand, has a maximum of 12 times.
Scores almost always rise when taking the test a second time simply
because the student is more comfortable with the format of the test
and the testing environment. Most colleges continue to use the highest
test score the student achieved, and some colleges will even "super
score." Super scoring refers to colleges taking the highest scores
from each individual section of the test and adding them together to
come up with the highest possible composite score even if the highest
scores on individual sections were taken on different test dates. It's
wise to check with individual college policies regarding test scoring.

When registering online for either the SAT or ACT , you'll be asked to
choose a test date and location. Plan ahead and register early as the
tests have strict registration deadlines.

A photo ID (such as a driver's license or passport) is necessary when
sitting for the test. If your student does not have either of these,
then check to see if your state motor vehicle department will issue an
alternative photo ID to your teen. (The ACT also accepts other means
of identification; however, be careful to follow their instructions
and call its offices for clarification if needed.)

There is no definitive answer to what a good SAT or ACT score is;
however, info provided at these links provides food for thought.

Additionally, once your teens receive their results (on the web or
through the mail), check individual college websites to compare their
scores. Most colleges post the median SAT and ACT test score ranges
of admitted students.


The SAT is given about 7 times a year. Homeschooled students register
for the test directly online with the College Board. When
registering, use the special homeschool code of 970000. Also, take
advantage of the four free test score reports by indicating on the
application the colleges you would like to receive the test scores
even if your teen has not yet definitely decided on the colleges to
which he will apply. Future test score report requests will incur a
nominal fee.

The SAT is comprised of three sections including math ,
verbal/critical reading
ing.html , and a mandatory written essay
More general details on the test may be found at the College Board
This website also provides much helpful information including a full
length practice test
nerID=pretest&AffiliateID=PREPCENTER , general tips on test taking
l , sample essays and how essays are scored
rt.html , free online tools called SAT in Focus that give advice on
test and academic preparation , and
much more.


Unlike the SAT, the ACT is a knowledge-based test covering English,
reading, math, and science. Students who do well academically in
these areas will likely do well on the ACT. Visiting the ACT website,, will give you
in-depth information on each section of the test as well as sample
questions and test taking tips and strategies.

The ACT is offered 6 times a year and homeschoolers should register
online to take it,, using
the homeschool code of 969999. The site also lists helpful test day
to help ease any of your teen's uncertainties.

The ACT differs from the SAT in that it has an optional writing test.
Check with your colleges of choice to determine whether the writing
section is required.

Last, if your teen has documented learning difficulties, investigate
the options that the College Board and ACT make for special test
accommodations. HSLDA's special needs coordinators are available to
our member families to assist in applying for these accommodations.

For more information than you could ever use (or want!) regarding the
SAT and ACT, you may wish to consult Wikipedia: SAT or ACT

SAT Subject Tests

The SAT Subject Tests given by the College Board were previously known
as SAT II Tests. There are 20 different SAT Subject Tests covering
five major subject areas. Similar to the general SAT test, these
Subject Tests require students to reason and apply knowledge in a
particular subject. Some colleges may use the tests as part of their
admissions criteria, but most colleges use them for placement purposes
only. Other colleges do not require the tests, but will consider high
scores on the subject tests as an optional part of a student's
portfolio when applying. More detailed information on the SAT Subject
Tests can be found at the College Board,, and
on the FAQ's section .
The best time to take an SAT Subject Test is immediately following
completion of a course in that particular subject.

The College Board provides tips for taking the Subject Tests ,
specifics on each test , and a
free SAT Subject Test preparation booklet
ation-booklet.pdf .

Reasons for a homeschooled student to take an SAT Subject Test
> a particular college requires one or more SAT Subject Tests as an
objective indicator of the work a student is capable of doing,
> a student desires to give a "boost" to his/her application by
showing academic aptitude in a given subject area; or
> for placement purposes when college courses are selected.

Homeschooled students register directly online with the College Board
to take an SAT Subject Test, and there are six test dates from which
to choose.
ml A maximum of three subject tests may be taken on any given test


The PLAN, , test is administered by
the ACT as a preliminary to the ACT college admission test. It is
usually given in the sophomore year and is used to predict how a
student will score on the ACT. The PLAN tests knowledge in English,
reading, math and science and the scoring ranges between 1 and 32. The
results can be used to indicate areas of strengths or weaknesses in
your teen's knowledge.


The EXPLORE test was developed to be taken in the 8th and 9th grades
as preparation for the PLAN which is in preparation for the ACT. Do
you see where all of this is headed?!

It is our opinion that if you are not enamored with test preparation
and administration, then it's best to forego both the PLAN and EXPLORE
tests. Rather, focus on a well-rounded academic high school program as
good preparation for taking either the SAT or ACT test.

Compass Test

Another test developed by the ACT is the Compass Test, Some community colleges use the test to
determine placement for their incoming students as well as to enroll
homeschool students in dual credit classes. Four year institutions may
also use the test during freshmen orientation for placement purposes.

The test components include reading, writing skills, writing essay,
math, and English as a second language. The test is an untimed,
computerized test and students receive their results at the completion
of test taking. The scores give the school an assessment tool as to
the student's academic strengths and weaknesses.

Whew!! This is a lot of information to digest, but the good news is
that you don't have to remember it all. When needed, you'll be able to
access the information on the aforementioned websites. Our hope is
that having an introduction to the tests will help you to decide which
ones will be essential for your teen to study for and take. If you are
a member of HSLDA and have questions about any of this information,
please do not hesitate to contact us.

In next month's newsletter, we plan to help you get your noses out of
the books, the lesson plans, and the activity calendars! Doesn't that
sound wonderful? Join us in September as we look beyond all of these
temporal items and concentrate on ... eternity.

Until then, rest in knowing that the Lord loves and cares for you and
your children,
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Coordinators


SAT/ACT Test Power Prep CD - Looking for a test prep resource? Check
out the new edition of this special HSLDA offer.

Join Becky and Diane's webinar on August 26th at 1:00 PM (EST) as they
present information on the college admissions process for
homeschoolers. For more details and to register see:

CHEMinistry of Midland, MI - September 19, 2009 (Diane)
(One day high school symposium, pre-registration is required prior to
September 5th)

-> How many news articles did you read this morning over your

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