Testing for college

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Julie in MN
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Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
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Testing for college

Unread post by Julie in MN » Sun Oct 02, 2011 7:31 pm

high school-Psat test?
pjssully wrote:I am just wondering if anyone has had their high schoolers take the PSAT test. I am thinking about having my 9th grader take it just for the experience. She has not taken any formal tests, i have not really done much grading with her except math and a few outside classes. Just thought it would be good experience and i would not have her study extensively at all for it. thanks for any feedback
pjean
Hi Pam,
I had my son take the PLAN in 9th (pre-ACT) and he's taking the PSAT in 10th. It doesn't "count" until 11th, so both are really practice tests. We have to test yearly in Minnesota, so my reasons for testing are partly just to fulfill my obligation there, and I figure we might as well make it doubly useful by getting used to the high school tests now.

As far as test prep, here's something I wrote on another board with my thoughts on not overly preparing but not totally skipping it, either. Maybe it will apply to the conversation?
  • Last year, my 9th grader took the PLAN, which is along the same lines (pre-ACT). I didn't technically have him "study" but I am in favor of talking about what to expect on the test.

    I think it's good to not have the kids wasting time on test day just trying to understand directions or the point of a question, since I've always felt that standardized test questions are in their own little world. The PSAT provides a little booklet you could run thru in an hour or so (reading the instructions rather than doing all the practices).

    Or I even think it's useful if *I* do the practices in the booklet, check the answers, and figure out why they wanted a different answer than I expected (which does happen!), then give my child a heads-up.

    Not sure if that's called "test prep." I definitely don't believe in over-prep in the early years. But a little heads-up might prevent a child from figuring that all will be perfect next year just because now he knows what he's getting into. Instead, if he knows what he's getting into the first time, he might be more aware of specific areas within the test that he needs to be ready for next year?

    Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

cbollin

Re: high school-Psat test?

Unread post by cbollin » Sun Oct 02, 2011 8:05 pm

My oldest is taking it this month. She's in 10th. It will be "practice" for her as well. It's inexpensive. Given once a year. Only counts in 11th grader year for consideration for National Merit scholarship. It will be her first real standardized test.

-crystal

Julie in MN
Posts: 2925
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: high school-Psat test?

Unread post by Julie in MN » Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:37 pm

cbollin wrote:It's inexpensive.
Not sure if you've looked into these details yet, Pam, but you might want to know that these tests run about $15, depending on whether the site adds something on. (Cheaper than the Iowa Basics was, but I think the high school tests must make money off of the college mailing lists -- if your student fills out the optional college interest portion on those tests, be prepared for a full mailbox for the next 10 years with all the college ads!)

And also, the PLAN can be administered by various homeschool groups, but you have to sign up for the PSAT with a local public or private school.

Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

cbollin

Re: high school-Psat test?

Unread post by cbollin » Sun Oct 02, 2011 9:59 pm

I know in my case, our umbrella school is a test administrator so that was a private school even though it's a homeschool group in reality. check around and find out what's available near you and all of that. and hurry too if you haven't signed up.. .the test is this month and it's only given in October each year. depending on the school, it's either only the 12th or only the 15th.

and the cost is only $17 ish.(like Julie was saying)... cheaper than the SAT which is $47. so that's what I meant.. inexpensive compared to taking a SAT, but yes, they are all money making deals for college board and yes, you'll be flooded for years to come with offers... I know when I was a high schooler, that was how I found out about the university I eventually attended and graduated. other people see it as nothing but junk mail and permissions to send junk for years.

-crystal

Julie in MN
Posts: 2925
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

PSAT?

Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:37 am

sbbrown425 wrote:Hello Fellow Homeschoolers!
My dd is in 9th grade. Just wondering what has been experience of those who have taken PSAT?
What math courses should be completed prior to taking PSAT?
My dd is doing Algebra 1 this year.
Thanks for posts.
Hello!
I'll just share our experience. Hopefully others will chime in.

9th grade: PLAN test (pre-ACT) in the fall.
This is a practice ACT and doesn't go to colleges. But we must test every year in Minnesota and I thought this would be good practice for everything from concentrating for several hours straight (beginning in the early morning), to answering random questions (not just the ones in your most recent chapter), to sitting in the midst of some college-bound kids. I also wanted my son to do both the PLAN and the PSAT, to see whether he preferred the ACT or SAT. He definitely prefers the ACT, and that works since the ACT is more common here in the middle states (SAT is more common on the East and West Coasts). I chose to do the PLAN first because (a) I wanted his PSAT practice to be closer to the actual PSAT competition in the fall of 11th, so PLAN in 9th and PSAT in 10th. I didn't really think my kid would be a National Merit semifinalist, but hey, why not try?! (b) And it's just easier for homeschoolers to sign up for the PLAN. Since it doesn't go to colleges and doesn't compete for the National Merit scholarship, it's basically just a test and high school co-ops around here are able to administer this test. So his first big college-prep test was in a room full of homeschoolers.

10th grade: PSAT test (pre-SAT) in the fall.
Again, I wanted him to do a practice-run PSAT before the National Merit one that must be taken in fall of 11th grade. I signed up by emailing the public school guidance counselor in the late summer when she first got back to work, because the test is always in mid October. We went over to the public school and got the test prep booklet and went through all the practice sections and testing tips in there. Note that there are not a lot of 10th graders taking this test, so scores can look worse. Your 10th grade scores are only compared with other 10th grade scores, but it seems that mostly very ambitious young people are signing up for this test in 10th, so the average percentages are higher than usual. I tried to not look at the score comparisons so much as just evaluate testing strengths and weaknesses within my child. (Some schools only admit 10th graders on a space-available basis.)

11th grade: PSAT test in the fall.
Again, just in case he would earn a National Merit scholarship, I wanted ds to be in on this test. It counts in October of 11th grade. I didn't expect my ds to qualify (and he didn't), but I wanted him to give it a try! Also, it's just one more practice before SAT/ACT test scores for college (which typically begin in spring/summer of 11th grade).

Math:
As far as what math is on the PSAT, you can get some of that info on their website:
http://professionals.collegeboard.com/t ... ction/math

If your son is doing Saxon algebra, he will have some regular review of geometry concepts and he should be fine. If he's doing a more traditional straight-algebra this year, he might want to go over some junior high type basic geometry and angle measurement as a test prep, if he's worried about it. The test doesn't go to colleges and doesn't affect anything, so really it's okay to just say, "Oh, I haven't been doing geometry lately, so of course I didn't get many of those questions." But some kids have a harder time saying that to themselves :) and may feel more secure by doing a little review.

HTH,
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

sbbrown425
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:01 pm

Re: PSAT?

Unread post by sbbrown425 » Wed Dec 04, 2013 11:57 am

Thanks so much Julie! Great info! I never heard of PLAN.
Thanks again.
Sherry

donutmom
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2006 5:41 am

Re: PSAT?

Unread post by donutmom » Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:42 pm

I know it's quite past this post, but thought I'd add what we did. Like Julie, we wanted him to have practice before his junior year, so we had son take it before his junior year. There is a small Christian school near us, that administers the PSAT. We were able to sign our son up for that test--we thought a smaller setting would be less intimidating. You can find test locations on the college board site at https://psatordering.collegeboard.org/p ... /search.do

We actually signed him up in the freshman year. Figured the test wasn't expensive, and worth the investment to even do 2 practice runs. As a freshman, he had only just had a few lesson in Algebra 1 (since the test is given in October). We told him going into the test that we didn't expect him to do well, as the test is for juniors, but that we wanted him to take it just for practice of taking the test (we said that alot, as he tends to put too much pressure on himself!). I think he was the only freshman taking it that year, but the test administrator said they've had freshman, and even 8th graders, take it in the past. They didn't seem phased for him to take it as a 9th grader. We used the scores as guide to know what to focus our studies on this year for the test--and really, nothing was a surprise as far as the testing went (well, one area was where he did much better than we would have thought--a nice surprise!). There were lots of sophomores taking the test this year, so I think at least taking it that year as a practice is a great idea. We were not going to have him take it this year, but our son had no memory of the test from freshman year (result of health issues), so we did have him take it again this year--as the practice he will hopefully remember!!

Couple of hints. . .
1. Contact the school early if you are interested in taking it (especially if you want to go to a smaller school). They have limited number of books, and you'll want to get on the list before they fill up. In 9th grade, we did it as a last minute thing. This year I actually contacted them in May, because they have to place their order so early. I also wanted to get a copy of the practice booklet that is given, as we didn't get it in 9th grade. The practice booklets aren't in until Sept., but last year they had none left for us.
2. There are homeschool codes for the test. They can be obtained at the college board website, also. Have student use this number on the answer key the day of the test where it asks the student to write a school code. The school will give the students their code, but have your child write the home school code in it's place. And just write homeschool where they ask for the school name. That way the scores will be sent directly to you, and not to the school where they took the test. Each state has their home school own code number.

--Dee

gratitude
Posts: 677
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 11:50 am

Thinking Ahead / College Testing / Summer Birthdays

Unread post by gratitude » Wed May 04, 2016 8:52 am

Hi Julie,

I welcome anyone else as well who might be able to answer my thinking ahead questions. If I remember correctly Julie your son, like, mine, is a summer Birthday that started K at just turned 6. My oldest is 3 weeks before the school cut-off, and at age 5 was reading and miles away from being ready for sitting and writing so we waited a year and started a few weeks after his 6th Birthday.

He is 12 now and in 6th grade. It has come to our attention recently the idea of having next year be his 8th grade year rather then his 7th. My DH and I still lean towards having him at the older end of the grade. He is ahead in math (started Saxon 8/7 in January) and science by about 6 months, but to us that extra time still seems good. As this question arises though it has brought up some questions.

When a Junior in High school goes to take the SAT and ACT does age or grade matter?

Are the summer Birthdays, who started at just turned 6, still eligible for National Merit Scholarships? Is the year they are in school, rather then age, the determination of potential eligibility?

Do their tests scores still count like other students in their grade?

Is there an age cut-off for tests like the SAT or ACT?

What about home schoolers or public school students who graduate at 19 (with winter or fall or spring Birthdays), can they still take the tests their Junior year a little older and qualify for scholarships?

Could one even take these tests after graduation?

Thank you Julie. I appreciate your time, experience, and any answers you may have from having graduated your son. I pray that he and you are doing well.

Blessings,

Julie in MN
Posts: 2925
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Thinking Ahead / College Testing / Summer Birthdays

Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed May 04, 2016 11:52 am

gratitude wrote:
Wed May 04, 2016 8:52 am
If I remember correctly Julie your son, like, mine, is a summer Birthday that started K at just turned 6. My oldest is 3 weeks before the school cut-off, and at age 5 was reading and miles away from being ready for sitting and writing so we waited a year and started a few weeks after his 6th Birthday.

He is 12 now and in 6th grade. It has come to our attention recently the idea of having next year be his 8th grade year rather then his 7th. My DH and I still lean towards having him at the older end of the grade. He is ahead in math (started Saxon 8/7 in January) and science by about 6 months, but to us that extra time still seems good. As this question arises though it has brought up some questions.

When a Junior in High school goes to take the SAT and ACT does age or grade matter?

Are the summer Birthdays, who started at just turned 6, still eligible for National Merit Scholarships? Is the year they are in school, rather then age, the determination of potential eligibility?

Do their tests scores still count like other students in their grade?

Is there an age cut-off for tests like the SAT or ACT?

What about home schoolers or public school students who graduate at 19 (with winter or fall or spring Birthdays), can they still take the tests their Junior year a little older and qualify for scholarships?

Could one even take these tests after graduation?

Thank you Julie. I appreciate your time, experience, and any answers you may have from having graduated your son. I pray that he and you are doing well.

Blessings,
Hi Carin,
Good to "see" you.

Yes, my oldest was 6 when he started K. He turned 19 the month after he graduated high school. Then he went to National Guard training, so he started college just after he turned 20. (Never homeschooled.)

Youngest turned 6 in November of his K year, also was 18-1/2 or older at graduation, also took a gap year and started college when he was about to turn 20. (Homeschooled 3rd - 12th using MFW plus some college courses in 11th-12th.)

As far as testing, anyone can take college entrance tests, even me in my 50s :) You just need to find a testing site and pay your fee like everyone else. Sometimes testing sites have limited staffing and will reserve places for 11th graders first, allowing others to attend as space is available, so you may have to search further for a site or request a seat early so they will order enough tests for you, but technically there is no difference.

As far as qualifying for the National Merit Scholarship (NMSQT), that is for high schoolers only, taken in the fall of 11th grade. The most important thing is that you can only declare your student's grade once. You can't make him an 8th grader for a practice PSAT and then decide to pull him back a grade for the qualifying PSAT in 11th grade.

Here is a PDF of the official instruction booklet (you get these when signed up, but we typically had to ask for ours), see page 6 : http://www.nationalmerit.org/s/1758/ima ... _guide.pdf

And here is a post on some of the testing we did: http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php ... 153#p97153

Does that help? Keep asking if you need more clarification. I know high school is a big step.
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

gratitude
Posts: 677
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 11:50 am

Re: Thinking Ahead / College Testing / Summer Birthdays

Unread post by gratitude » Wed May 04, 2016 8:56 pm

Julie in MN wrote:As far as qualifying for the National Merit Scholarship (NMSQT), that is for high schoolers only, taken in the fall of 11th grade. The most important thing is that you can only declare your student's grade once. You can't make him an 8th grader for a practice PSAT and then decide to pull him back a grade for the qualifying PSAT in 11th grade.
Hi Julie,
It is good to "see" you too. :)

Thank you so much for your answer. It was helpful to read.

I thought I was pre-mature in asking, but I am glad I did. The part I put in red is good to know. I just read your links and both had a lot of important information on them. They also both answered my questions! :-) My DH was asking some of these questions and it helps to have answers.

You are right high school is a big step. Even 7th / Junior High seems to be a big step for me. :)

Thank you Julie! :-)

Julie in MN
Posts: 2925
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: Thinking Ahead / College Testing / Summer Birthdays

Unread post by Julie in MN » Thu May 05, 2016 11:13 am

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.

MATH:
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:
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.

ESSAYS:
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.

READING/WRITING/LANGUAGE:
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.
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

gratitude
Posts: 677
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 11:50 am

Re: Thinking Ahead / College Testing / Summer Birthdays

Unread post by gratitude » Thu May 05, 2016 11:36 am

Thank you so much Julie! I would hear snippets about these tests here and there and kept wondering how much they had really changed. This information really is helpful to read. You have cleared up numerous questions I have had popping up more and more over the past few years.

The links are all helpful. It looks like MFW has some good resources for preparation when the time comes. I have bookmarked all of the links and will definitely be using them when it is time to. I am going to bookmark this thread as well. You have given some great information.

Thank you! :-)

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