Monday, April 26, 2010

The ACT test and my homeschool

 FYI Homeschooling Moms - I am also having a drawing TOMORROW for a comp ticket to Cindy Rushton's Ultimate Homeschool Expo - the online homeschool convention!  See this post and leave a comment to enter.


Even though I have been homeschooling for over 14 years and have one kid graduated and on his own, I am still pretty new to the SAT and ACT tests. My oldest, Calvin, never wanted to go to college and so he begrudgingly took the SAT test because I made him. The most memorable thing from that experience was what happened DURING the test. According to Calvin, "The boy next to me started to cry and I just told him, 'Hey, it's alright man.'"

sigh. His scores as expected were not great, but he did manage to get into a hospital EMT program and is now gainfully employed as an EMT and is planning to get his Paramedic training at a trade tech school next fall.

But Sam is definitely college bound and so I wanted him to try the ACT or the SAT.  There is a difference between the two exams.  We started our journey with the practice tests - the PLAN and PSAT.  The PSAT experience was awful and you can read all about that here. It was such a hassle to arrange and his scores were just not anywhere as encouraging as the PLAN test had been, so I decided to focus only on the ACT. I know another homeschool kid who did much better on the PSAT than the PLAN, so they went the other direction.  To each his own  - whatever works best for the student is the way to go.

See Lee Binz's article on ACT or SAT. 

A veteran homeschooling friend of mine provided the following information, used here with permission::


It is important for students to realize that these tests are important, so they are personally motivated to do the work necessary to maximize their score. A good score on the test can make the difference in college admission and how much scholarship money is available to you.

General preparation includes taking math and science throughout high school and doing lots of reading and writing of all different sorts. Practicing reading comprehension can be useful, using books such as More Reading Comprehension in Varied Subject Matter.



If grammar and punctuation is a problem, Editor in Chief (B and C) is helpful.



Also helpful (for the SAT only) is doing a vocabulary course such as Vocabulary for the College Bound.


ACT


Explore every aspect of the site.

Particularly use the resources on the Test Prep page

Do the ACT question of the day every day. (You can get it show up on your Facebook daily by "becoming a fan".)  (Note from me:  Also on Twitter.


Get a test prep book. We use Cracking the ACT. Set yourself a schedule and work on it regularly. Take all the practice tests in the book (after going through the book). Time yourself when you take the practice tests. Carefully study the questions you get wrong.

If there is any area you want to improve in, take more sample tests. Do a search for ACT prep on Amazon.com.

You could take the real test at least once before it really matters. We start with taking it as a freshman. There is no better practice than actually taking the test under real test conditions. A good way to start preparing for the SAT is by taking the PLAN test as freshman or sophomore. (It is an easier test for younger students, but it is very similar to the ACT. )

Of course there are lots of courses you can pay for, too. You could sign up for the official online preparation program for $19.95 a year.

See also Barron's Test Prep Site.

I had Sam take the ACT test a few weeks ago.  His results were not quite what I had hoped for but I reminded him (and myself) that this was our "baseline" test.  This was to see where we needed to go and what we had to work on. Today I showed the test to his math tutor and he said, "That's not too bad for the first time!" so that was encouraging.  He also told me that the average score is between 18 and 22 (Wickepedia said 21) and that makes Sam well within striking distance.

We'll study this summer and take it in the fall and then again in the winter.  You can take it up to 12 times, but the average is 3 times.  Sam's tutor took it three times and he's brilliant in math!

So that's the plan.

For Gabe I am hoping to administer the PLAN test this spring or summer and then start his college bound journey!


Explore, ACT and Plan Tests
Sam's Plan Test results.
Standard Tests and My Homeschooled Kid







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