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.
Standardized Achievement 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).
- Bayside School Services – CTB McGraw-Hill’s TerraNova and Test of Cognitive Skills (TCS), CAT/5 and TCS
- Christian Liberty Press – (California Achievement Test – CAT)
- Bob Jones Testing and Evaluation -Variety of nationally recognized tests. Testing services approved by test publishers.
- Seton Testing – California Achievement Test (CAT
- Thurber’s Educational Assessments (CAT-5) -TerraNova and CAT/5
Advanced Placement Tests
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 contact the AP Central at the College Board for your state specific homeschool code.
General Placement Tests
- Alpha Omega Publications placement tests
College Preparatory and Scholarship Tests: PSAT
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.
College Entrance Examinations: SAT and ACT
The SAT and ACT are college entrance tests that most colleges use for admissions purposes. College usually 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. Many students begin taking the college entrance tests in the 11th grade after they have completed Algebra 1 and Geometry. Students may take the test more than once to improve their score. Using SAT or ACT practice tests and preparatory books are highly recommended.
The SAT is a reasoning test that currently includes a verbal, math, and mandatory written essay. College Board is now in the process of revising the test, and the new SAT format will be unveiled in March 2016. The College Board website provides more information on the SAT redesign.
For parents interested in learning more about the proposed SAT changes, read the HSLDA summary, which has access to the SAT redesign webinar by David Coleman, President of the College Board. Register for the SAT directly online with the College Board. The SAT homeschool high school code (CEEB) is 970000. To find out more about how to request accommodations, eligibility, and required documentation for learning challenges, visit this page.
The ACT tests knowledge in four subject areas (math, English, reading, and science). ACT’s written essay is optional, but it’s best to check with a specific college to find out whether the essay is required. Registration is done directly online. The homeschool high school code for the ACT is 969999. Special accommodations are provided with receipt of required documentation.
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.”
- ACT Student – ACT online registration, test dates, locations, and codes.
- Collegeboard.com -Information on SAT and college admission resources.
College Board SAT Subject Tests (formerly called SAT II tests)
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.
ACCUPLACER and COMPASS
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.
College-Level Examination Program
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.
High School Equivalency Tests (GED, HiSET, TASC)
High School Equivalency tests are designed to evaluate whether an individual who has not graduated from high school has achieved knowledge typically acquired in high school. Because these tests are primarily taken by high school dropouts, they continue to carry a stigma. If your student has finished the high school program you designed for him, he deserves to be awarded a homeschool diploma. Should colleges or employers require your graduate to take the GED, HiSET, or TASC, please read how to respond or call HSLDA for assistance.
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, 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.
For more information on which high school equivalency test is used by your state, click here.
For more details on whether your state is involved in these changes, click here.
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
- Chalk Dust Company -SAT math review video package.
- Dome SAT Review – Free SAT prep resources
- Outsmarting the SAT: An Expert Tutor Reveals Her Proven Techniques, Strategies, and Confidence-Building Exercises That Will Maximize Your Score by Elizabeth King
- SAT Power Prep -SAT preparation software on DVD (free after paying shipping and handling).
- Kaplan – Unsure of which test (SAT or ACT) your teen may score higher on? This free test may help you decide.
The information on this page is provided by HSLDA (http://www.hslda.org/highschool/testing.asp)