When your child is working hard on studying for college admission tests, like the SAT® or ACT®, you may be accumulating enough hours to make this a class, and put it on your child's transcript. Let me provide some simple do's and don'ts for using test prep and putting it on a homeschool transcript.
Affiliate disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and buy I may make a few pennies, but not enough for a latte.
Did you know that you can use your child's test prep work as credit on the high school homeschool transcript? Yep, it's true! You can. As you prepare your child to take high school tests, there are a few tips that you need to know.
1. Choose the right test
The first step in test prep is figuring out whether the SAT® or ACT® is the best fit for your child. If your child does best on the SAT®, I suggest they take BOTH tests, the SAT® and ACT®. If your child does best on the ACT®, then only study for and have them take the ACT®. Studies imply that boys do better on the SAT® and girls do better on the ACT®. Science lovers may do better on the ACT®. Students with poor handwriting might do better on the ACT® without the essay (although, I don't recommend that). According to the statistics, more people who live in the coastal states take the SAT®. Most students who live in the center of the country take the ACT®. But who cares? Statistics are not always right! What's MOST important is to decide which test will be best for YOUR student. Taking a sample ACT® and SAT® is the single best way to decide which one your child will score highest on. While the sample test does take 3-4 hours (and it's a real pain, I know), it can mean THOUSANDS of dollars in scholarship money, so it's worth it. With my own children, I set aside 1/2 hour per day, about 3 or 4 days a week. We did our core subjects in the morning, and SAT prep was first thing after lunch.After your child takes the sample test in the comfort of their own home, score the test, and find out what percentile your child is in. Choose the test with the highest percentile score. This chart will help. Score Comparison Chart: SAT®, ACT®, CLT and Percentile.
Collecting study materials will be key in choosing the right test.
For the SAT®: Cracking the New SAT® with 4 Practice Tests, 2016 Edition
For the ACT®: Cracking the ACT® with 6 Practice Tests, 2020 Edition
For essay preparation: Free sample questions from the AP Exam
You'll make good use of your kitchen timer (this is the one I used with my kids): Apple Kitchen Timer
2. Study at home
Studying at home is the most effective IF the student will actually do that (and I know as a parent, that's not always a sure thing!) See if you can schedule test preparation at home first. Choose a test preparation book with real test questions. During each prep session, do one section of the test (each section is just 25-50 minutes). Read the instructions first. Set the kitchen timer. Have your child take the test. After the timer rings, have your child correct their own test packet. Reviewing the answers to any questions they missed will provide them extra practice and help them to understand the problem better.
During each prep session, complete one section of the test (each section is just 25 minutes). Doing this will help your child practice filling in the bubbles. This sounds silly, but practicing really does help take some of the fear away.
Read the instructions first.
Set the timer.
Have them take the test under a timed situation.
After the timer rings, have kids correct their own test packet.
Have kids review the answers to the questions they missed. If they don't understand the answer, they can ask their dad - hahahaha! Ok, that's how it worked in MY House anyway!
Your child should practice essay writing, as well. One day a week we practiced our SAT essay skills in place of a regular English assignment. (Remember, you'll be putting this practice on the homeschool transcript!)
Choose a prompt from your SAT study book or the AP sample questions above.
Read the prompt first.
Set the timer for 50 minutes.
Correct the essay in the evening.
You can also get more help, check out my High School Testing (Online Training) course.
3. Test prep class, if necessary
If studying at home doesn't work, consider taking a class outside the home, either online or in a physical location. Locate a test prep class specific for the SAT® or ACT® (again, the one that fits the best) to take a class outside the home. Test prep classes taken outside of the home generally teach more in the way of how to take the test and test taking methods to do well on the test, rather than teaching new academic knowledge.
The SAT® has changed recently, but you have plenty of time to adapt to the changes. When my own sons were juniors in high school, the SAT® changed, too, so I know exactly how stressful it can be right now. Just hang in there!
There is so much value in doing college admission test prep. But, it makes it even more valuable when you realize that you are helping your student collect high school credit for their homeschool transcript! Here's how to do it:
Don't imply you are teaching to the test.
I don't recommend calling it test preparation or test prep, SAT® preparation, or ACT® preparation. Instead, I prefer to give the class a more general title. If you use the class title "SAT® Prep" on your child's transcript it's like saying, "My child studied for the test for hundreds of hours and still this is the best score they could get."
Do imply your child is learning study skills needed to succeed in college classes.
"Study Skills" or "College Study Skills" is a more general name that's not test-specific, which implies they are ready for college level work. You can add any other study skills to that class, as well. If your child takes a prep class for another kind of test, or learns note-taking skills, then add that to you study skills class also.
Do Give Credit for Work Done.
For a credit value, estimate how many hours are spent. If your child racks up more than 75 hours, then give a semester's worth of credit. I usually put it in the "elective" section of the transcript.
Write Course Descriptions.
It's always important to write course descriptions, and this class is no exception. If you put a class on the transcript, I suggest you include a course description as well.
Suggested Study Guides for Tests.
SAT® Subject Tests
SAT® Subject Tests: The Official Study Guide for All SAT Subject Tests by The College Board
Choose Study Guides for SAT® Subject Tests: I prefer Princeton Review Books
Get my free, downloadable e-Book and learn all about college admisison tests: High School Subject Tests Simply Explained
Choose Study Guides for AP® Subject Tests: I prefer Princeton Review Books
Take Sample CLEP® Exams: CLEP® Official Study Guide by The College Board 2018
Choose Study Guides for CLEP® Exams: I prefer CLEP® Study Guides by REA
I hope this is helpful. You can find out everything you need to know about the SAT and ACT®in my article, College Admission Tests - How to Ace the SAT or ACT®.
** SAT®, AP®, and CLEP® are trademarks owned by the College Board, which is not affiliated with, and does not endorse, this blog post or The HomeScholar, LLC.
It's ok to list the books in the course description. As Lee states above, you just don't want to title the class as SAT Prep or Test Prep, as it implies that they studied loads of hours and that's the best they could do. Instead, use something like "Study Skills" or "College Study Skills" as a more general name that's not test-specific, which implies they are ready for college level work. You can add any other study skills to that class, as well. If your child takes a prep class for another kind of test, or learns note-taking skills, then add that to you study skills class also.
Assistant to The HomeScholar
How would you word the course description if you are using ACT and SAT prep books? In a course description you list the books you are using so if you list the ACT/SAT books, won't that imply you are prepping them for the test?
Ahhhh, summer! It's the best season ever! June rolls around and our priorities turn to camping, vacation, snuggling young children, relaxing in a hammock, and reading great books. Have some