The PSAT is only offered once per year! So parents of all highschool juniors it is time to register your 11th grade homeschooler for the PSAT if you plan for her to take it. Each school will administer the test either on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 or Saturday, October 15, 2016. Unfortunately, the PSAT is the one test that you cannot register for online. Instead, students must go through a local school that is offering the test. The best way to do this is to call the school and talk to whoever is in charge of administering the test. Laws vary from state to state, but if you get a public school official that tells you that homeschoolers are not allowed to take the PSAT at your local public high school, you should ask to speak with the principal or call your school district, as quite often, school officials are simply misinformed on the topic. Private schools also may be more homeschool friendly that public schools.
If your student is in 11th grade, one benefit of taking the PSAT/SAT is that your student could possibly earn a National Merit Scholarship. I cannot emphasize enough, however, that in order to qualify for this scholarship, the student must take the PSAT in 11th grade and the SAT in 12th grade (taking the PSAT in earlier grades is great, but your student will not qualify for the scholarship if it is not also taken again in 11th grade).
Students do NOT have to take standardized tests in order to get into college. Many state colleges and universities have transfer agreements with community colleges. Students may transfer directly from a community college to a state college or university without submitting any standardized test scores if the student has successfully completed a certain course load through the community college, often entailing earning some sort of AA/transfer degree. In addition, FairTest maintains a list of colleges and universities that do not require the SAT or ACT for admission.
If your student is unsure about what college he or she wishes to attend and he is in 12th grade, he or she may want to cover the bases by taking the SAT or ACT. Some schools will only accept either the SAT or the ACT, but many schools accept either test. Both of these tests are offered throughout the year and students may register for them online
Other tests your student may need to take are SAT Subject tests (these are sometimes referred to as SAT II’s), AP tests, IB tests, and/or the CLEP exams. I do not recommend that homeschoolers take the GED as it can actually make a homeschooler look less desirable to prospective colleges or employers than a “mommy diploma” would. Unfortunately, some colleges do require that homeschoolers take the GED, so if your student has his heart set on such a college, he will still need to take it.
Make sure your student enters the proper school test code on his test or the test scores will be sent to the school instead of to you. The HSLDA maintains a list of homeschool test codes by state. Make sure that your student knows that he or she should ignore the proctor’s instructions about what school test code to enter if the proctor tries to insist that any code, but the homeschool code, be entered. I have even heard of some “helpful proctors” going so far as to changing the test code on the form for the student (they mean well and don’t do this out of maliciousness).
What has your experience been with registering with your school district to take standardized tests?