Learn how to properly prepare your homeschool teen for standardized college admissions tests by using SAT and ACT prep courses & more!
Getting admitted into the college or university of your dreams. Receiving multiple academic scholarship and grant offers. All of this is possible when you excel on standardized college admissions tests, like the ACT and the SAT. Scores on these exams can have a direct impact on whether your child rips open that long awaited college acceptance letter. Or receives the much anticipated call congratulating them on being the newest scholarship recipient!
But, expecting your child to magically master these tests without proper preparation is, well, foolish.
We want to set our children up for success in life. Right? Right! As a homeschool parent, would you give your child a final exam without first covering the material on the exam? No. So, why would we have our kid show up for the ACT or the SAT, without properly preparing for it?
Sure, many of the concepts should have been learned naturally through the student’s high school coursework. But, there is more – way more – to taking standardized college admissions tests than simply knowing the material!
Proper preparation is key. But to be fully prepared to take the ACT or SAT, it’s also about knowing how to approach these tests.
Focus on Just One!
Most all colleges and universities require incoming students to take one of these standardized college admissions tests. In case you’re wondering, ACT stands for American College Testing and SAT stands for Scholastic Aptitude Test.
The scores on these tests are used to determine not only college admission, but also the awarding of merit-based scholarships. If your child is college bound, you need to be familiar with these tests. However, you should pick just one. Not both. ONE!
Some people argue that taking both tests is beneficial for the student. After all, who knows which test you’ll do better on. But, the efforts involved in properly preparing for each of these exams are different. After all, the tests are different. For starters, the scoring range on the ACT is 1 to 16, whereas the scoring range for the SAT is from 400 to 1600.
Why practice for both exams when you can be laser-focused on one and knock it out the park! So, my recommendation is to avoid brain fatigue and test confusion and just pick one.
Which one to pick? Truly, that’s up to you.
My daughter took the SAT and did quite well! Why did we pick the SAT? Well, it’s what I took. So, no, I don’t have an exceptional reason for her taking the test other than it was what I was familiar with.
Why? All of the math on the ACT is multiple choice. Plus, students are allowed to use calculators throughout the entire ACT math section, whereas the SAT has a specific “no calculator” math section. Writing is optional on the ACT. And, the ACT includes a section solely devoted to science; the SAT does not.
(Side note: I’m a big fan of Greg’s science freebies! Be sure to check them out as well!)
Take it Multiple Times
Whether you choose the ACT or the SAT, take the test multiple times and start early. Greg suggests taking the ACT as early as 8th or 9th grade. You really don’t want your child attempting the test for the first time as a junior or senior.
The more practice they get taking the test, the more comfortable they will become – and ideally, their scores will reflect the added practice as well!
Learn Test-taking Strategies
Don’t go at it alone! Utilize the experience of someone who has gone before you! Take the time to learn test-taking strategies specific to the test of your choosing. See my online course recommendations for the SAT and ACT below.
Homeschool SAT Prep
However, of all the studying and preparation, my daughter says the course was “super helpful” – the most helpful, actually – in her scoring so well on the SAT. In fact, she said the instructor made some of the harder math concepts much more understandable.
If you’re planning on taking the SAT, be sure to read more in-depth about our experience with the SAT Bootcamp.
Homeschool ACT Prep
However, if the ACT is your test of choice, I highly recommend Greg Landry’s ACT Prep Online Bootcamp.
The ACT Bootcamp includes four online classes that the student can attend live or via recording and five ACT practice tests with real ACT questions – all over a four week time period.
With weekly homework assignments and a final grade, the ACT prep course will not only properly prepare your child for the ACT, but can also count as a semester credit of test-taking and college study skills on your child’s homeschool transcript.
Plus, since Greg is a science guy, he shares exactly how to approach the science portion of the ACT!
Quick ACT Test-taking Tip: Did you know that your student should not methodically work through answering every question on the ACT in order? Greg explains how avoiding this technique and following this one ACT prep tip alone could boost scores by 1 to 5 points!
Proper Preparation is the Key!
When it comes to doing well on standardized college entrance exams, proper preparation is the key! Become laser-focused on just one of the tests. Pick one and master it! Take the test multiple times and start early so that you become more and more comfortable with it.
Lastly, don’t try to do it all yourself. Have a plan for learning test-taking strategies specific to your test of choice by enrolling in a course to guide your student.
Dream Schools & Scholarships
My daughter was admitted into her college of choice (she leaves this fall and I’ve already cried more than I’d like to admit) and is currently advancing through the process of scholarship offers.
With the proper preparation, admission to their dream school with scholarship offers may be just around the corner for your teen as well!
This post was originally published on February 9, 2022.