The SAT/ACT Puzzle
The home school community is divided when it comes to standardized testing... some like it... some don't...and I rejoice in the fact that we have the freedom to make these decisions for ourselves. Yet, when it comes to the high school SAT/ACT test there's no getting around it! If a home school child wants to attend college, these tests are a basic requirement.
The SAT/ACT Puzzle
We are experiencing this first hand at our house. My oldest daughter in eleventh grade took the ACT test this past Saturday as a practice run. She came back ranting about several things... one of which was that she couldn't believe how many students were wearing their pajamas... (and we thought we were the only ones who did school in our "jammies"!)... the other was that she felt like she guessed at a good portion of the science/math. This surprised us because she has already taken 4 high school science courses as well as advanced math. We decided that we would take the ACT/SAT several times over the next year and a half as a way to get practice, and be able to determine what skill areas need work. You see, college scholarships as well as acceptance all hinge on SAT/ACT scores. At our house, the scholarship aspect is very important! We aren't "teaching for the test", but we are trying to "bone up" for it - the best we can! In my years as a tutor, I have consistently seen that a well organized test preparation can increase a student's score by at least 200 points (SAT).
Here are a few ways that you can help your child prepare for their high school SAT/ACT tests:
1) Begin early to plan your curriculum to meet college requirements. Also find out which test your preferred college requires.
2) Take the basic required courses as soon as possible. Ie... our state requires 4 maths for graduation - encourage your child to take high school algebra in 8th grade to allow them time to take an additional higher math in high school, or take your sciences/maths in 9th, 10th, and 11th so that these courses will be in hand when the test is taken. The more courses they have taken, the better prepared they will be.
3)Take standardized tests as practice. Yes, I know... some home schoolers don't appreciate standardized testing... and that is their right...but taking these tests every few years really is a good "practice" for the "big one!"
4) Use a test prep book or web site. I like to use A Major Tests.com. I use this in my tutoring sessions as well as for my own daughter. It has great vocabulary lists which can be studied several months/year in advance. It has sample essays, and lots of practice tests.
5) Do lots of trial runs... take actual practice tests. The most difficult portion of the test is always the writing... so practice writing a timed, structured essay. Give them an essay prompt, time them, and then grade their work. Science on the ACT is also a challenge, but take time and think through the problem. Most of them can be solved with thorough scientific method.
6) Read, Read, and Read... good readers always test well!