Those home schoolers who have taken standardized tests on a regular basis may be ahead of the game when the time comes to take the college boards. Having test experience is a definite advantage because it helps to minimize the test jitters which are common in public and private schools. There are numerous ways to provide practice for the SAT or ACT. There are several SAT preparatory book and software titles available from various publishers. In many communities there are specific SAT/ACT training courses offered outside the school. These typically meet once a week for six weeks, and provide the interaction with a teacher that may be helpful to some learners. There is no problem making this preparatory training a part of your childs regular home school curriculum. There is also a wonderful SAT prep program that is written for Christian home school students - The SAT & College Preparation Course for the Christian Student by James Stobaugh (available at christianbook.com).

One advantage of taking the SAT or ACT is that they are often used to measure qualifications for academic scholarships available from the college your child wants to attend. If this is something you want to take advantage of, then preparation is very valuable. When we took the PSAT and SAT in the seventies, students rarely prepared specifically for the tests. They relied on their general education. However, we would not suggest this as an option today.

SAT II exams are given to determine the knowledge and/or skill level of the student in a specific subject area. Each exam is one hour in length and multiple choice (except for a twenty minute essay on the writing test). Registration costs for the SAT II exams are $13 for each date plus $6-12 for each subject test. Up to three subject tests may be taken on a given day. There are currently twenty-two subject tests in six academic areas.

Fees for ACT, SAT I, and SAT II exams include direct reporting to a limited number of colleges you choose. You may choose not to directly report the scores, they can always be sent later. The easiest way to register for the ACT, SAT I, and SAT II exams is to do so online [See www.act.org or www.collegeboard.com]. You may also register for the ACT by calling (319) 337-1270.

Is there any way for college-bound students to avoid taking college board exams? Yes, those students that have accumulated college credit (usually 12 or more credits) during high school or who transfer from a community (junior) college will probably not be required to take SAT or ACT exams. The purpose of the college boards is to determine whether the student is ready for college-level work. If they have already accumulated college credits through CLEP exams, AP courses, community college, or distance learning, these credits may allow them to transfer rather than apply as a freshman, therefore bypassing the college boards. Most community colleges have open enrollment--in other words, they do not turn away paying customers. Some require placement tests to be taken at the onset of studies to determine which classes they are ready for; these do not preclude entrance. The only caveat is that if the student places low on this test, they may be required to take non-credit preparatory classes before beginning college-level work. Most home school students will place very well on these exams, sometimes qualifying them to begin earning college credit at fourteen or so. In most cases, the result will be that our children will have the opportunity to maximize their educational experiences, rather than be stifled by institutional approaches. Take advantage of these resources as soon as your child is ready for them.