Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Taking the Next-Gen Accuplacer Math Test

Drawing by E(age 14)
I've mentioned, in passing, already a few of the tests we've encountered during our teens' high school years.  D (age 16) took the Accuplacer (college placement) math test today, and I thought I'd share the steps of the process we walked through while they're still fresh in my mind.  The details of each step might vary slightly depending on the testing center, but the general idea will be the same.

The Timing 

Taking the test today was a last minute decision (we decided on it yesterday), but not completely random.
  • Dual-enrollment registration for the summer term at our nearest community college is in April, so if D decides he wants to take a class this summer, he will need to have a high enough Accuplacer or SAT score to meet the class prerequisites (this is information you can find in your college's course catalogue), and he doesn't want to take the SAT until next spring, or the following fall.
  • You have to have a picture ID.  He just earned his driving permit - so now has a picture ID.
  • By taking the test early we could see where he's at, and give him time to improve anything that needed improving before trying again (only the latest test score matters for placement).
The Process
  • On our college website we clicked into the testing center's page (our college has its own testing center - some will send you elsewhere, but that information should be in their admissions information).
  • On the testing center page we clicked "Test Request" from the menu.
  • That put us into a new menu where we clicked on "Schedule Test"
  • Then we had to create a login for D with an email and password (I recorded the email and password we used for him on a sheet of paper that will go in our high school file - aka the old crayon drawer)
  • Finally, we were able to choose the test we wanted.  For the Accuplacer there were three choices:  Math (90 min), Reading & Writing (180 min), or Math, Reading & Writing (240 min) - those are average times the tests take, there is no time limit other than the hours of the testing center (so you don't want to schedule the test for right before they close).
  • We picked just the math (we'll go back later for the reading and writing)
  • We were asked to choose a date and time (a pop-up showed us available times on each date).  Our center requires a 24 hour notice for test (usually) so we scheduled for the next day.
  • We were sent a confirmation email, and prompted to click on a link to create a test ID for D (I copied that down on a sticky note to take along to the testing center).
  • Today we showed up about 15 minutes early to the testing center to sign in (which consisted of showing his picture ID, signing a sheet of paper, and handing over the test ID I had copied from the link, paying $5.00 by debit or credit card - no cash or checks, showing the proctor his water bottle - they like them to have lids, and his bag of candy - they don't normally allow snacks, but if they are quiet and non-distracting they'll usually let it slide, and handing his coat off to me)  The test has a pop-up calculator when needed, and the testing center provides scratch paper and pencils, and a locker to put any of your stuff in that you can't take into the room.
  • He took the test (it took him about 2 hours) - and he needed to type in our phone number and zip code at the beginning. I waited in the waiting room and read a book.
  • When he was finished we received his score sheet with a list of the college level math classes he is now eligible to take (most colleges have a flow sheet that will explain the scores and compare them with equivalent SAT and ACT scores - but it might take some digging to find).
Questions D had before the Test
  • Is it a timed test? No.
  • Is it on paper or a computer? Computer.
  • How is the testing room set up?  Ours is a classroom sized room with rows of computers at desks with little cubicle type dividers around them.  D ended up being alone in the room.
  • How many questions are there? It varies depending on how far you get into the test.
  • How does the test work? It is multiple choice. The questions gradually get harder until you can't do them anymore (basically).  
What's Next? 

D did well enough today, that he will not need to take the math portion of the test again.  He can register for the math classes he wants when April roles around.  When A (age 17) took the test, she took the entire thing at once, and petered out before the end of the math section.  She was not pleased with her score, and went back to retake it a couple of times until she liked the score she received. We will probably wait a week or so and then schedule the writing and reading portion of the test for D.

Did he study?

This is an assessment test that checks to see whether or not a student is ready for college level work, so while you can study (there are practice questions and tests on the College Board website) D did not.  I wanted to see where he was at first, and wanted to keep everything as low pressure as possible.  We don't take many tests at home (basically none) so trying to make the first "out of the house" tests as simple and enjoyable as possible is very important to me.

Your student's experiences might end up being a bit different, but all the same, I hope this glimpse into our day helps you plan yours.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

1 comment:

Ticia said...

This reminded me I need to check out our local community college's rules for dual enrollment because my boys will be eligible next year I think.... We'll see if we try that or not.