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Two Tips for Teens That Miss the PSAT in 10th Grade

Two Tips for Teens That Miss the PSAT in 10th Grade
The purpose of taking the PSAT in 10th is only to get a bit of practice about how to take a bubble test in a public school setting. Even in 11th grade, the purpose is still "just for practice" unless your child scores in the 95th percentile or above....
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Acronyms Rule in October! PSAT and FAFSA

Acronyms Rule in October! PSAT and FAFSA

Acronyms Rule in October! PSAT and FAFSA

October is a big month for homeschoolers. It's when you need to know your stuff as the homeschool guidance counselor. But no need to freak out! It's fairly simple. There are only two acronyms you need to know: PSAT and FAFSA.


The PSAT is a test that's only offered in October each year. I recommend it for 10th and 11th graders. It's a no-stress test, taken just for fun. Taking it in 10th grade will help your child learn to be calm and not freak out during tests. It will also help you, the guidance counselor, as you begin to think about which colleges might be right for your child, and consider how much test prep is important.

Taking the PSAT will help you start down the road toward college scholarships. Learn more about the PSAT here: Read more: Take The PSAT for Fun And Profit


The FAFSA is the first step toward financial aid. This is an urgent task in October during senior year. FAFSA stands for "Free Application for Federal Student Aid." It's a form you fill out every year, much like 1040 tax forms. You need to complete it yearly from high school senior year until college graduation.

Complete the FAFSA so you can get the best possible financial aid. The earlier you fill it out, the better. So you can see how learning about the FAFSA will help you every October for a while now, right? Read more: Complete the FAFSA for Fun and Profit

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Take the PSAT for Fun and Profit (Plus Free Book)

Take the PSAT for Fun and Profit (Plus Free Book)

Take the PSAT for Fun and Profit

Like the SAT, the PSAT is a college admission test overseen by the College Board. It meets most state homeschool testing requirements and covers reading, writing, and math, but doesn't include an essay. The PSAT is a fairly inexpensive test compared to most annual assessments. In addition to being practice for the SAT, the PSAT can help you find a college, indicate career options your student might not have considered, and can lead to scholarships.

You can read the whole article, Take the PSAT for Fun and Profit right now. It's taken from chapter two of my book, High School Testing.

Would you like to learn more about all the high school tests your child should take for college admission and scholarships?

Check out my Coffee Break Book, High School Testing: Knowledge that Saves Money. Regular price is $2.99 on Kindle. You can pick up your FREE copy this week for Kindle/Kindle app! It's only free from September 1-5, 2016 so grab your copy here today!

Once you've read it, I would be so grateful if you left a quick review to let me know what you think. Thanks so much!

Love free books? Enter your email address to join my monthly newsletter, where I announce in advance when my books will be free. Please share this link with your homeschooling friends. Every homeschooler loves freebies!

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The PSAT now comes in quite a few formats: PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, and PSAT/NMSQT.

The College Board's goal is to sell products (obviously) but also give children plenty of opportunities to take the test. In this test-heavy educational environment, over-testing is the norm, and they are trying to provide what schools are wanting. More tests. But all the PSAT tests are really practice for the SAT, with the added possibility of a scholarship based on the PSAT/NMSQT.

The SAT is also in competition with the ACT test. The ACT testing company offers multiple test opportunities for every grade and the College Board wanted to get in on that action as well.

The PSAT 8/9 is shorter than the original PSAT test. The PSAT 10 is longer and more like the original. The PSAT/NMSQT is the only qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship.

It's helpful to take a step back and figure out what your goals are for your child. You want to prepare your child for the PSAT 11 in the best possible way, to increase their chances of earning good scholarships. All the PSAT tests are preparation for the SAT, so you have to figure out which meet your goals.

Try to decide how many SAT practice tests taken in a real test setting will help your child and how many tests will start to produce test anxiety and frustration. You do want to give your child the "soft skills" of test prep - filling in bubbles in a timed situation among strangers - but how many PSAT tests will provide these soft skills? And how many tests will begin to backfire on your child, making them more anxious instead of less anxious? This varies by child.

In my opinion, the best PSAT test preparation is spending time on basic literacy skills prior to high school: reading, writing, and math. Once your child is in 10th grade, the best test preparation is practicing with real PSAT and SAT test papers.

The most homeschool-friendly way to do this is to give one short, timed section of the test about 3 days a week. That's 30 minutes, 3 times a week. Each short test section will consist of reading, writing, or math. It can replace your language arts workbooks or writing on the days you assign test prep. This can reduce the work load at home, because you aren't adding more test prep, but are replacing some work with test prep.

It's helpful to give your high school child an annual group assessment once a year. I suggest a grade level test, not necessarily the PSAT. This way, your child can fill in bubbles among strangers, but it's a grade level test so they can experience success. They should be able to score well on the test, with no implication of "This is important for college - you'd better do well!"

In 10th grade, I suggest they take the regular PSAT/NMSQT just for fun, as their one and only test that year.

This gives practice for the child, and practice for the parent (registration practice is important for parents)!

In 11th grade, your child can take the PSAT/NMSQT, which may qualify them for the National Merit Scholarship. The PSAT score will also give a best estimate of their SAT score.

In 11th grade, after they are done with the PSAT/NMSQT, I suggest you give a timed practice test of the ACT at home. Then you can compare the estimated SAT score from the PSAT/NMSQT against the estimated ACT score from the timed practice test at home. This will help you decide which test is best for your child, and focus all your energy on the test that makes your child look smarter.

What do I recommend? Don't over test your child. Focus on literacy and real skills in reading, writing, and math. Then prepare your child by using real test questions from the real test.

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PSAT Scores: 14 And Gifted

PSAT Scores: 14 And Gifted
What do you do when your child's PSAT score surprises you? Life with a gifted child is never boring! Sometimes you just don't know what to do next.

PSAT Scores: 14 and Gifted

Hi Lee,
I just got a jolt when I read on your website that a rough conversion from PSAT to SAT is to add a zero to the end. So what do I do with a 14 year old who has a PSAT selection index of 201, average percentile of 97, Critical Reading score of 70, Mathematics score of 61, and Writing Skills score of 70?
~ Amazed in Auburn

To be honest, that was EXACTLY the place I found myself when my own son was 14. He got an 800 in reading, 790 in writing and math, with a perfect score on the essay. That was the moment I realized that I just *might* have to graduate him early, and I did. He headed off to college at age 16. 

Here are a few resources that may help you take the next steps with your gifted teen.

My best advice is to hang on there! It's going to be a wild ride. Isn't it great that as homeschoolers, we can meet our kids where they're at, whether they're gifted or have learning disabilities, or both! God gave you this child for a reason.

Is your child gifted? Are you amazed at your child's PSAT scores? Please share!

Please note: This post was originally published in February 2010 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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Living Overseas? How to Plan a College Visit

Living Overseas? How to Plan a College Visit
I have so many military and missionary members and subscribers, sometimes I feel like I travel the globe as I talk to people.  It's so fun! I often get questions about how my military and missionary friends can plan for college visits.

When homeschoolers live overseas, make the best use of your breaks in the US.  Visit colleges, as many as you can, during your visits back to the US. For overseas families, try to find colleges that are near a support system for your child, near relatives or your church that the student is comfortable with.  Visit those colleges each time  you are in the US, so the setting becomes familiar and home-like.

If you can plan ahead for a break, the very best time would be spring of junior year, perhaps March to June, or anytime between February and August.  During that time, you can visit colleges, take the SAT twice with ease, and start the application process before leaving for overseas again.

There is an option to take the SAT overseas, but the testing center may be quite a distance from your location.  Here is the US, it's much easier to find a testing location, and so you might find it more convenient while you are in the states.  If possible, try to complete your application to colleges before you go back, so you can interact with the admission office if necessary, asking questions as you go.  For that reason, make sure your homeschool records are thorough and complete before December of junior year, so they are ready for your visits and college applications.

If possible, look into the possibility of taking the PSAT where you live. It is helpful to take the PSAT in 10th grade, overseas if necessary.  That way you will be able to locate a site “near-ish” to you and navigate the process when the scores don't count.  That will set you up to take the PSAT in 11th grade, because you'll know exactly how to do it.  If you do some college searches during 9th grade, then you should be ready to start visiting college in 11th grade, to see if they are still a good fit for your almost-18 year old.  Take the SAT or ACT in March of junior year, and then sign up to take the SAT or ACT in June as well.  Taking it twice can improve scholarship potential - taking it more than twice doesn't really help.

College visits will be extremely helpful for college admission and scholarships. If you get a chance, read this article about college visits, because I think it could help: How to Win a Scholarship Competition

Learn the steps you can take right now to meet all of your homeschool high school goals.

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Important Dates for 2013

Important Dates for 2013
The New Year is here, and it’s time to mark up your new 2013 calendar!

Include any upcoming exams or college preparations you need to make for your high school student.  Don’t miss these deadlines, because many of them are inflexible!  Check the links below for further information about each test.

Deadline                                 Test or Activity
January                                    Find a college fair to attend in your area

January 11th                             Register for ACT test on Feb 9th

February                                  11th graders schedule college visits

February                                  Find summer jobs and enrichment programs

Feb 8th                                     Register for SAT test on March 9th

March 1st                                 Homeschool deadline for AP exams

March 8th                                 Register for the ACT test on April 13th

April                                        Update reading list, transcript, record keeping

April                                        plan graduation for seniors, order diploma

April 5th                                   Register for the SAT test on May 4th

April 5th                                   Register for SAT Subject Tests on May 4th

May 1st                                    Seniors must decide which college they choose

May 2nd                                   Register for the SAT test on June 1st

May 2nd                                   Register for SAT Subject Tests on June 1st

May 3rd                                    Register for the ACT test on June 8th

May 6th – 10th                          AP exams

May 13th – 17th                        AP exams

June 1st                                    Ask local school about PSAT registration

July                                          Update reading list, transcript, record keeping

August                                    Start college application essays

September 1st                          Ask local school about PSAT registration

October 16th and 19th              PSAT Test

For more information about important tests:
ACT Test Dates
SAT Test Dates
AP Test Dates
PSAT Test Dates

Your best strategy for keeping all the balls in the air is preparation.  The HomeScholar Gold Care Club will give you the comprehensive help you need to homeschool high school.
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National Merit Scholarship Information for Homeschoolers

National Merit Scholarship Information for Homeschoolers
Money for College!

Have you seen billboards and newspaper articles announcing that a student is a National Merit Scholar?  Did you know that those students entered the competition by taking the PSAT? The National Merit Scholarship is the best known high school scholarship in the nation, and the only way to win is to start with the PSAT test.  Therefore, the single most important thing you can do to win that scholarship is to make sure your children take the PSAT in October of 11th grade.

Students are invited to participate in the competition based on their Selection Index from the PSAT, compared to other students within each state.  The Selection Index is used to compare high school juniors within each state.  Because each state is different, it's impossible to predict exactly how your child will compare.  However, if your student's scores are above the 98th percentile on the PSAT, there is a possibility they may qualify for the National Merit Scholarship.Monetary Amount Varies

The National Merit Scholarship is a non-renewable, one-time award of up to $2500.  Not everyone gets the whole prize amount, and some will get far less. When you compare the award to the cost of colleges, it doesn't seem like much.  But the National Merit Scholarship can be a stepping stone to other scholarships.

Keep reading the whole article online to learn about the National Merit Scholarship process, and how to plan for success.  See the whole scholarship timeline, so you are prepared.

Read the Article

For more information about how your child can earn great college scholarships, watch my video, “Getting the BIG Scholarships,” available both as an online class or DVD.

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The PSAT is this week!

The PSAT is this week!
The time for studying for the PSAT has ended.  Now is the time to relax.

At this point, you have done your best to prepare.  Even if you haven't, you can't really cram for a standardized test, and you don't want to stress out your children anyway.

Stop worrying.  Relax.  Deep breath in...  deep breath out.....

Remember what PSAT stands for.  PRE or PRACTICE test for the SAT.  That's all!  It's just practice.  It's not the Superbowl.  It's not even like a real game, it's just practice.  It's a meaningless test for everybody besides the National Merit winner.  If you aren't in the top 1/2 of 1 % in the nation, this test is ALL about practice.  It's the test where kids learn what a timed test in.

Teenagers will also learn how to take it in a room full of 500 of their closest friends or strangers, enjoying the ambiance and odors of sneezing, swearing, tattooed, burqua-or-bikini-wearing teenagers.  And you want them to learn about this environment now, when the test doesn't matter.  That way when they take the SAT for real, they won't get a lower score because they are so shocked. For Christian teens, this is a good time to discuss John 3:16, "For God so loved ALL the world" and not just the conservative, conservatively-dressed world.

Since I don't suggest cramming for the test, or quizzing kids until they cry, let me make a few suggestions to make their life MORE pleasant.

Can you show them their own transcript?  There are non-test questions before the test about their school records, classes, and grades.
Make sure they gets a good breakfast with protein.
Make sure they takes a snack (maybe a granola bar, and juice or water - something to eat quickly.)
Make sure they knows exactly where the bathroom is.
Make sure they brings a calculator that they feels comfortable using.
Make sure they brings 4 sharpened pencils.
Make sure they brings the homeschool code (found here
It's OK to walk in with them and speak to the proctor to introduce your child
Be clear about exactly where you will wait for your son or daughter when you pick him up.

You will get the test results in December.

If you would like to join the Gold Care Club, I'd be glad to discuss the results with you.
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What do PSAT Scores Mean?

What do PSAT Scores Mean?


What do PSAT Scores Mean?

When your child takes the PSAT in October, you will get the results in December. If you just received your PSAT scores, you may want to know what those scores really mean. You can get more information here: College Board Score Report

For more information, these reports will help.
Understanding 2011 PSAT/NMSQT Scores (pdf/870.7K)

Sample PSAT/NMSQT Student Score Report (pdf/1.46M)

When your child takes the PSAT next year, be sure to register your child as a homeschool student. When you do, the scores will come to you as quickly as they come to a school - which means you get the results a couple of weeks sooner. If you register your child as a student as the school where they take the test, then you will get the test results at the same time as other parents at the school.

Do you have more questions about high school tests?  I have resources available to help.
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Is the SAT or ACT best for my homeschooler?

Is the SAT or ACT best for my homeschooler?

I am praying you can help answer this. How do I know, if she will do better on ACT or the SAT? I want her to go with the test that best fits her. Any ideas on this? Thank you for your help,
~ Bertie in Washington

Dear Bertie,

You can’t find out until she has utilized a trial test at home. Just a sample test at home, one for SAT and also one for ACT. After that, find the one that will make her seem smarter. You can’t tell upfront. One third perform better on one, a third do better on the other, and a third do about the same. Has she taken the PSAT or SAT before? Either of those can give you her SAT score, then she simply needs to receive a sample ACT for you to find a comparison.

Taking a sample ACT and SAT is in all probability the single most effective strategy to enhance your likelihood of great scholarships, so I really encourage you to do that – and now could be a good time to get it accomplished! It does require 3-4 hours (and it’s a real pain, I understand! ) However it could mean THOUSANDS of dollars, which means it’s more than worth it.

After you figure out which test is best, then register her right away. After registering, you want to figure out what each college policy is for tests. Several require you to send all scores. Others need you to only send your BEST scores.

Do you have more questions about high school tests?  I have resources available to help.

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Above Average is Good!

Above Average is Good!

Once you get the PSAT scores, what happens next?  Have your children take the SAT or ACT in the spring of junior year.

My daughter is going to take the SAT in Mar 2012. She's taken the PSAT and we had her scores sent to our home. But when it comes to the SAT scores I was thinking of doing the same thing and then we personally send the scores to the colleges. Is that the best way to do it?

It's cheaper to have scores sent directly. For that reason, if she scored good on the PSAT then I would send scores directly. If she scored poorly on the PSAT (below 50 in something) then I would pay the extra money and send them one at a time to colleges if possible. For estimating scores, add a zero to each PSAT score. 500 is average, 600 is good, 700 is great, and 800 is perfect. Anything over 500 is better than the average public school child.

Whether it is questions about honors, CLEP, or the ACT, I am here to help.  My Parent Training A la Carte courses can help you become fully prepared for your next step in homeschooling.
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Homeschooling High School: 2012 SAT Study Guide Filled with Errors

Homeschooling High School: 2012 SAT Study Guide Filled with Errors
What NOT to Buy!

The new SAT prep book has come out, and reviewers say it is "full of errors."  I love Princeton Review and recommend it often. However, now their NEW edition is finally published, and I find out it has major errors! Last year's edition will be "tried and true" so I suggest you use that edition.  They don't change much from year to year.  Get the one from 2011 or 2010 instead. Only the 2012 edition seems to be the problem.

Use This Book
11 Practice Tests for the SAT & PSAT, 2011 Edition

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Important Dates

Important Dates

Seniors – Fill out an application for College and Register for Tests

It normally takes a rather long time to finish a college application form. Get started right now, and mail the application in as soon as the colleges begin taking applications. Financial decisions could possibly turn out to be made “first come first served” and applying early might possibly enable you to obtain the most beneficial financial aid package. Sign up for ACT test by September 16th if you would like to take the test on October 22nd. Register for the SAT online well before September 9th if you would like your student to take the SAT or SAT II subject tests on October 1st.  This time of year, it’s often the seniors who seem to take the SAT, while the younger students put emphasis on the PSAT instead.

Juniors – Register now for the PSAT exam

The PSAT will be offered on Wednesday October 12 or Saturday October 15th this year. You will need to sign-up at a local high school, public or private. Get in touch with them as soon as possible to sign-up – at the very least by the first week of school. Word of caution: Students will have to take the PSAT/NMSQT in eleventh grade to meet the requirements for the National Merit Scholarship!  There is only one chance to take this specific exam each year, for that reason sign up now for the October test!

Sophomores – Give some thought to taking the PSAT

You might choose to take the PSAT for practice, along with high school juniors. It won’t be counted for the National Merit Scholarship Competition at this point, however it is great practice for next year, and at $13, it’s a inexpensive approach to obtain a standardized test if required by your state. About fifty percent of the students who take the PSAT are actually sophomores.

Freshmen – Opt for demanding curriculums!

Select demanding classes this fall, so that you have the most overall flexibility when it’s time to consider a college. Don’t skimp on the math and writing!

Learn the SECRET to getting your student placed at the TOP of the stack for college admission consideration as well as one of those MASSIVE university scholarships.  Get the Comprehensive Record Solution!

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Homeschooling High School: Should my child take the PSAT in 9th grade?

Homeschooling High School: Should my child take the PSAT in 9th grade?
A 9th grader *can* take the PSAT, but I almost never recommend it.

The PSAT can be taken at a local public or private high school. The PSAT is a VERY cheap test, and if testing is required by state law, it can usually meet that requirement.  However, the PSAT does have Geometry and Algebra 2.  It can be very discouraging for a kid to take a test and not have any chance of getting a good score.  As homeschoolers, we try to encourage our children to do their best, and may want them to get 90% or more on tests or we get upset.  But on the PSAT, if they don't have the math they CAN'T score well.  I worry that taking it too early can cause more test anxiety.  That's why I rarely recommend it.

The schools can choose to allow homeschoolers or not - it's up to them.  I have not heard of a school preventing a 9th grader from taking the PSAT.

Here is an article about the PSAT that may help you learn more about that test:
Take the PSAT for Fun and Profit

Learn how to save money homeschooling with my free Special Report: “7 Secrets to Homeschooling Through a Financial Storm.”
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