Friday, January 4, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Tests to take Before the End of High School and When to Take Them.

Drawing by E (age 14)
I maybe should have titled this post, "Tests We Have Needed to Take Before the End of High School".  I'm sure it's not an exhaustive list of all the tests out there - so if you know of another vital test, please add it into the comments.  These are the tests we've needed.

These are also tests for the college bound.  If your student isn't planning on going any farther than grade 12, then honestly, they can skip the tests, with the possible exception of the HiSet (see below).

1. The Accuplacer (or the Compass exam, or some other college placement test).

When:  Sometime during the spring or summer of their sophomore year for students wanting to dual enroll in college classes during their junior years

Why:  It's a college entrance exam that assesses reading, writing and math readiness for college level classes.  If you don't score high enough in certain areas, you might have to take "pre"(not for college credit) classes in reading, writing or math before you can enroll in the college level classes (or you can go home and study a little more and retake the test until you get a high enough score).

Cost: Minimal (Somewhere between $10-$40 depending on the testing center)

How to Sign-up:  Through the testing center for the particular school for which you're taking the test.

Where to Find More Information and Practice Links:

2. The SAT or ACT (the information below is for the SAT, because that is what we are familiar with, but you might want to check with a local high school counselor to find out which test most of the kids in your state are taking and why).

When: Usually taken spring of your junior year in high school or in the fall of your senior year.  The PSAT is taken in your sophomore, if you're really gung-ho to jump in (and for some early scholarship consideration).  We like to start in the junior year to give our students time to retake the test if they want to improve their grades, though so far I haven't had any takers on that offer.

Why:  The SAT or ACT is required by most colleges and universities as part of their application process, and is used not only to evaluate college readiness, but to determine scholarship standing.

Cost:  $47.50 without the essay, and $64.50 with the essay (most colleges want to see the essay).  The ACT looks to be $50.50 without the essay and $67.00 with the essay, though again, I'm less familiar with that one.

How to Sign-up:  You sign up for the SAT through the College Board website.   The test is only given on certain dates, and in certain locations (usually at a local high school), and there are registration deadlines a couple of weeks in advance of the test.

Where to Find More Information and Practice Links:  the College Board website.  The ACT has a separate website of its own.

3. The TABE:

When: Some adult learning centers require students to take The Adult Basic Education test before they will allow them to take the HiSet.  In our area the test is only given once a month, and must be followed by a certain number of hours of tutoring before registering for the HiSet, and since that exam takes several weeks to complete (see below) it's not a bad idea to check into this exam fairly early in the last part of the senior year, if you want to your student to have their HiSet before graduating.

Why:  This is used purely to evaluate if a student is ready to take a high school equivalency test to get a diploma.  It helps students identify areas where they might need tutoring before taking their final tests.

Cost:  Varies but minimal, free or with a small test center fee (I think we paid $15 - but received some free classes in the bargain).

How to Sign-up:  When you go to sign up for a high school equivalency exam (see below) you will be directed to a testing center.  If the center requires the TABE, they will inform you and give you registration information.

4. The HiSet (which is often given now in place of the GED)

When: At the end of the senior year in high school (or later if desired), though this test is not absolutely necessary - some colleges will require it, but most will accept a homeschool transcript (which I'll post about later on) and some form of notarized homeschool diploma.  If your student is stopping at the end of high school though, it's nice to have just in case an employer wants to see some sort of state supported diploma.  And, even when it is not required for university registration, it can sometimes cut down on headaches and red tape.

Cost: Varies a little depending on the fees of the testing center, but usually around $50 to $60 for the entire test (which consists of 5 subtests - Math, Reading, Writing, Science and Social Studies).

How to Sign-up:  You'll find all the information you need on the ETS website.

As far as difficulty goes, the TABE is by far the easiest, it's all multiple choice with a short essay section.  It is purely an FYI type exam, and doesn't require any real preparation or study.

The HiSet is a little longer, you usually take each subtest on its own day, and sometimes several days to a week apart.  The science and social studies sections are glorified reading comprehension exams.  There are practice exams on the ETS site that will help you prepare.  It's not a difficult test, but you generally only take it once, and it does give a GPA of sorts, so it is nice to prepare at least a little for it.  My two oldest are not test lovers, but they sailed through this one without any problem.

The Accuplacer is a little bit more difficult than the HiSet, but can be taken as many times as you like.  We were informed that some students will take it every day until they receive the score they need to get into whatever classes they're aiming for.

The SAT is by far the most difficult of these particular exams, mainly because of its three hour length.  You can take that long with the Accuplacer too, and it also has an essay portion, but you can divide it up into subtests if you want, where the SAT has to be taken all at once, and in a fairly strict, monitored and stressful environment.   It can be taken multiple times too, but so far I haven't been able to convince any of the three of mine who have taken it, to take it more than once.

BrainPOP has a good test preparation video, as well as one on writing a five-paragraph essay if you have a BrainPOP subscription.  If you don't, or if you do but want more, Crash Course has an entire "Study Skills" playlist.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Ticia said...

This is very helpful. I hadn't known about the last two.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Here in California we have CHSPE for students wishing to test out of high school. Our neighbor went this route - she was sick and tired of HS after her sophomore year. However, one has to be 16, so in A's case it's a moot point, because she will only turn 16 in the fall of her senior year.