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January 14, 2004

Bad Information Could Cost You A Scholarship

More and more homeschooled students are winning National Merit Scholarships. This is partly due to the fact that one-on-one instruction in the home is an excellent way to learn, but it is also partly because more and more homeschoolers are participating in the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Testing. The PSAT is a necessary prerequisite for the National Merit Scholarship. One child almost lost his opportunity to compete because of bad instructions by local public school officials.

A question each student must answer on the PSAT is, "Are you a full time high school student?" The public school proctor told homeschoolers to answer that question "no." When one homeschool parent heard about this, she was puzzled enough to contact HSLDA to see if he had been misled.

HSLDA has dealt with PSAT questions for years, and immediately recognized that this answer would now disqualify him for the National Merit Scholarship. Fortunately, one phone call from an attorney was all it took to fix the problem. The responsive staff at Educational Testing Services (ETS), which has administered the SAT and PSAT tests for many years, instantly recognized that this answer would disqualify a student from the scholarship. ETS promptly took steps to correct the problem.

Unfortunately ETS probably cannot effectively educate every public school official that administers their tests. Many public school officials view homeschooling as "second class," and either do not know or do not care that their bad information may deprive a child of a scholarship opportunity. Fortunately, homeschoolers are increasingly well informed about these matters-which helps to explain why the number of homeschooled National Merit Scholars keeps increasing.