There are many types of tests available to teens. The tests your teens need to take will depend on their post high school goals. “What You Need to Know About College Testing” by Kim Lundberg provides more information on the various tests.
Preparing your teen to score well on tests is important especially for college admissions and dual enrollment. Check out the test prep help below.
General Placement Tests
These tests are commonly taken in grades 1–10. Examples include the Stanford Achievement Test, Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and the California Achievement Test. Some states require specific tests, while others have no requirements. Check your state law for high school testing information here. For additional information about which tests to use for your children, see the article “Choosing and Ordering Standardized Tests” (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) and Vicki Bentley’s article on Testing (contains relevant information on testing for all grade levels).
Advanced Placement (AP) courses are rigorous courses taken during high school but taught at a college level. The courses typically require an extensive amount of study, reading, and writing. There are 37 different AP courses across 22 subject areas that culminate in the taking of a standardized AP test for each course given nationwide in the late spring (usually May).
In order for homeschoolers to label courses as “Advanced Placement” on their high school transcripts, the course syllabus must now be pre-approved by the College Board AP Central. (AP is a trademark and to use it without approval is illegal.) Details on the AP tests, including teacher resources, exam questions, and other materials are provided. Because the AP Central does not list homeschool-approved syllabi in the Course Ledger which is used by colleges to check the validity of the Advanced Placement designation, it is necessary to keep the AP Central’s notice of approval for each AP course. Therefore, these letters should be attached to the high school transcript that you send to colleges.
Homeschooled students can study and prepare for these tests, either on their own or by enrolling in online AP courses. They must make arrangements through a local public or private school to register for and take a particular test. These arrangements should be made far in advance (December or January) of the test date so that the school has time to order a test for your student. (Some public high schools are more accommodating than others in allowing homeschooled students to sit for tests—as an alternative, you can also try a nearby private school.) The College Board provides specific instructions for homeschoolers taking AP tests.
In addition to completing the course work or studying the subject material on their own, students desiring to take an Advanced Placement test would be wise to use test preparation materials. A list of AP test preparation materials is provided on the College Board website, along with comprehensive details regarding registering, preparing for, and reasons for considering AP courses. If a student scores high enough on the AP test, he can receive college credit in that subject area depending on the policy at the institution he is attending. Each college determines the minimum score necessary on each AP test to earn credit and usually posts this information on its website.
When registering for an Advanced Placement test, students should be aware of these special homeschool state codes.
- Alpha Omega Publications placement tests
At grade 10, college-bound students may take the Preliminary SAT / National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT / NMSQT) for practice. Students must take the PSAT again in 11th grade in order to qualify for the National Merit Scholarships. If your child qualifies as a semifinalist/finalist for the National Merit Scholarship and you have questions regarding the completion of the application, do not hesitate to call the National Merit Scholarship Corporation at 847-866-5100.
For more detailed information regarding the PSAT test, refer to the August 2009 HSLDA Homeschooling Thru High School Newsletter, “The Scoop on Tests for Teens”.
Homeschool state codes (CEEB) for the PSAT are usually available from the test administrator on the day of the test However, it would be wise to verify that your state code is current.
The SAT and ACT are college entrance tests that most college use for admissions purposes. Most students begin taking the college entrance tests in the 11th grade. The SAT is a reasoning test whereas the ACT tests knowledge in four subject areas (Math, English, Reading, and Science). The SAT includes a mandatory writing section; however, the ACT’s writing section is optional. (Check with a specific college to find out whether the writing section is required.) Most colleges accept either the SAT or ACT tests, but some colleges in the Midwest prefer the ACT. Check with an individual college to ascertain which test they prefer, if any.
There is no minimum age required to take the SAT. However, we recommend a student should complete Algebra 1 and Geometry before sitting for the test. The new 2005 SAT test covers math, critical reading, and a writing section that includes an essay and multiple choice questions. Students may take the test more than once to improve their score (only the highest score will count). Using SAT practice tests and taking SAT preparatory courses are highly recommended. The College Board website provides a fact sheet concerning the new 2005 SAT. Register for the SAT directly online with the College Board. The SAT home school high school code (CEEB) is 970000. To find out more about how to request accommodations, eligibility and required documention for learning challenges, visit this page.
A student must be at least a 6th-grader to take the ACT. Registration is done directly online. The home school high school code for the ACT is 969999.
For more detailed information regarding the SAT or ACT tests, refer to the HSLDA Homeschooling Thru Highschool email newsletter, “The Scoop on Tests for Teens.”
The College Board administers SAT Subject Tests which are used by some colleges either for admission or placement purposes. The SAT Subject Tests are one hour tests, and can be taken in a variety of subject areas including English, History, Math, Science, and Foreign Language. The homeschool high school code (CEEB) for the SAT Subject Tests is 970000.
These SAT Subject Tests are in addition to and should not be confused with, the general SAT Reasoning test which most colleges require for admission. Selective colleges may require applicants to take certain SAT Subject Tests. Check with a particular college to see if it requires these tests.
Subject Tests are offered on various test dates throughout the year, and the tests are best taken soon after the course is completed. The College Board also provides test-taking tips and strategies for taking the Subject Tests.
Many community colleges require students to take placement tests prior to admission. The two major placement tests used are the Accuplacer and the Compass. Being familiar with these tests will help students to score well enough to gain admission as a dual enrolled or full time student.
The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests are evaluations of a student’s achievement of college level work. Check out the College Board for information regarding how to receive college credit for what your child already knows. CLEP registration, preparation, exam descriptions, and the benefits of CLEP testing are explained in detail on the website.
DSST, previously known as the Dantes Subject Standardized Tests, has over 38 examinations in college subjects. These tests were originally designed for military service personnel, but they are now available to the general public. Similar to CLEP tests, the DSST can engender college credit based on the scores of the test. More information is available at the following websites.
The GED is a test designed to evaluate whether an individual who has not graduated from high school has achieved the “academic skills and knowledge typically developed in a four-year program of high school education.” Because the GED is primarily taken by high school drop-outs it continues to carry a stigma. If your student has finished the high school program you designed for him, he deserves to be awarded a high school diploma, not a GED.
Some parents have the erroneous impression that they cannot issue a diploma to a student who has finished a home education program. With rare exceptions, parent-issued high school diplomas are accepted as proof of completion of high school by colleges, employers, and the military. In fact, a parent, and only a parent, is in the position to know if a student finished the program of secondary education the parent prescribed. It is the parent, therefore, who should sign the diploma.
Perhaps your teen isn’t sure what he wants to do with the rest of his life. He may benefit from taking a personality/aptitude/career test to discover his talents and gifts as well as his passions and interests.
- Highlands: The Right Choice by Leslie Martin and Kathleen T. Danelo
- Don’t Waste Your Talent by Bob McDonald, Ph.D. and Don E. Hutcheson
- SAT prep can also be used
- Outsmarting the SAT: An Expert Tutor Reveals Her Proven Techniques, Strategies, and Confidence-Building Exercises That Will Maximize Your Score