gratitude wrote:I guess my only other questions are what is on these tests at this point in time? Is the PSAT through Geometry and Algebra II and the SAT through Pre-Calculus? Or, is it different then that? Isn't there science at this point? What High school science is it? Isn't there written essays? I remember the reading and vocabulary, but I am sure both have changed.
The tests do change periodically. Both the SAT and ACT changed over the past year. Who knows, they may change again before your student tests. You can keep up on those at the official websites or sites like College Confidential.
It's always good to get a current test prep book with actual
tests - MFW sells those for both the SAT and ACT http://www.mfwbooks.com/products/19/Electives/
Also make use of the booklets given when you sign up for the tests, such as the one I linked earlier.
Some general thoughts from having kids test and also my own tutoring. This experience is with the PSAT (pre-SAT), PLAN (pre-ACT), and the ACT. The SAT isn't used much in the midwest (mostly used on the East and West Coasts), although almost all schools will accept it. Some say the SAT is more of an "intelligence/ability test" and ACT is more of a "skills-learned test." I'm not sure I saw such drastic differences, and I think the recent changes have made the tests more alike than ever. But it can be good to experiment at home with both - my son definitely preferred the ACT.
1. Speed is always helpful. Even though some calculators are allowed, they are not as fast as a student who knows his math facts and other basics down cold.
2. Being solid on math basics comes before knowing advanced concepts. If you get 3 advanced problems correct but miss half the basic ones, you will not be ahead of the game. Sometimes students who are already in calculus can be at a disadvantage because of this and need basics practice before testing.
3. Algebra equations are a big part of standardized tests, as far as using variables (like "x") to find unknown information, flexing an equation around to solve for those variables, and recognizing what's being done if such an equation is a part of the question.
4. Geometry is also big as far as fluency with basic angles and such, which may have been covered in younger grades and reinforced in high school geometry. Proofs aren't tested.
5. There are a few problems that will use trigonometry (I've heard 1 on the PSAT and 4 on the ACT). Trig is often introduced in Geometry or Algebra II or Precalc, and a basic intro should be all that is needed.
Science is basically a test of reading nonfiction, such as understanding the point of an article in a scientific journal. The science reading also includes "reading" the data presented on various kinds of graphs.
It's helpful to "understand science" as far as not being afraid of "sciency" words, recognizing the basics of the scientific method with a control and such (and when the scientific method isn't being used properly), etc., but the student need not memorize the periodic table or the names of all the species or anything at all like that.
These are optional. You might research whether your potential colleges currently require them, and then do some practices at home to see whether this is a strong point for your student. I've heard some homeschoolers struggled with the ACT essays because they were on "relevant" topics like school lockers.
To me, the hardest part for young teens is to get them to spit out the "content." Essays need to be supported with reasons. A nicely formatted and perfectly spelled essay is of little use if they don't "have something to say." It seems a maturity and life experience challenge, although sometimes it's personality, too.
1. Students should practice editing for errors in print. It helps to know things like semicolons vs. commas vs. periods as well as sentence "agreement" (consistent tense and number, i.e. singular/plural). But a student also has to practice "seeing" something wrong and even in some cases, how to "improve" something. As you get closer, you can do research at sites like SparkNotes http://www.sparknotes.com/testprep/book ... ion3.rhtml
2. Students should practice reading different types of things. The ACT always includes 4 types of reading passages: Prose Fiction, Social Science, Humanities, and Natural Science. These 4 can be very different reading skills. I had my son save his weakest area for last. (Fiction was his weak area - how that's possible with me as a teacher, I'll never know!)
3. I'm pretty sure all the analogy-type questions are no longer on any of the tests (short:tall as narrow:wide).
HERE ARE THE OFFICIAL SITES (as I'm probably forgetting something major!):
Preparing for the ACT: http://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unse ... he-ACT.pdf
SAT guide: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.o ... e-students
(The PSAT booklet is linked in my earlier post.)
Well, hope that wasn't too much! Hard to know exactly what would be helpful.