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in person!

January 28, 2017: Home School Family Connection—Richmond, VA (Diane)

February 23-25, 2017: North Dakota Home School Association—Bismarck, ND (Diane)

March 4, 2017: CHEC High School and Beyond Symposium — CO (Carol)

March 17, 2017: Greater Roanoke Home Educators—Roanoke, VA (Carol)

March 24-25, 2017: IAHE Convention—Indianapolis, IN (Carol)

March 30–April 1, 2017: Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo—St. Louis, MO (Diane)

May 6, 2017: Christian Home Educators of West Virginia (CHEWV) – Charleston, WV (Diane)

June 8-10, 2017:Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV)— Richmond, VA (Carol Becker and Diane Kummer)

October 6, 2017 – Map Your Future, Indianapolis, IN (Carol)

Not able to attend one of Carol or Diane’s high school events? HSLDA’s recorded event High School at Home: Turning Possibility into Reality features sessions on developing a high school plan, creating transcripts, charting a course for post-high school plans, and more—with lots of encouragement! Purchase it at the HSLDA store.




Simplify Your Recordkeeping and Transcript is the second in a three-book series by Carol Becker and Diane Kummer, HSLDA High School Consultants. This e-book covers in-depth details on both recordkeeping and transcripts.





Develop a Plan for High School is the first in a three-book series by Carol Becker and Diane Kummer, HSLDA High School Consultants. This e-book covers how to choose courses, assign high school credits, evaluate coursework, and improve time management for you and your high school student.

College Entrance Tests: Making Sense of the ACT, SAT, and CLT

Dear Friends, December 1, 2016

Do you have a college-bound high school student? If so, you’re probably looking ahead to a college entrance test, such as the SAT, ACT, or other options. But which one is best for your student’s future plans? This newsletter will explore the various options and give you the information you need to help you and your teen make informed decisions about college entrance tests.

Although most aspiring students who plan to attend a four-year college as freshmen will need to take one of the college entrance exams listed below, over 850 colleges do not use college entrance test scores as an admission factor. If the four-year colleges and universities to which your teen plans to apply do rely on a college entrance test for admission purposes, verify which exams your teen needs to take and whether the optional essay section is required.

The SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test), ACT, and the newly introduced CLT (Classic Learning Test) offer five to seven examination dates per year. We encourage students to take one or more of these tests in the spring of their junior year and then repeat the exam on which they scored best in the fall of the senior year. Students often improve their scores upon retaking an exam, and scoring higher helps for both college admissions and qualification for scholarships.

In most cases, the fall of their senior year is the last time students can take these exams because of college application deadlines. Students who register early for these exams will find plenty of testing options. Students who register late will incur hefty fees and find testing options limited.

Now let’s compare each test with its pros and cons to help you determine which may be a better fit for your teen.

The ACT

The ACT is a subject knowledge test that measures understanding in reading, English, math, and science. In addition, the ACT offers an optional essay-writing section.

ACT Preparation: Students who take challenging English courses and study Algebra 1 & 2 and geometry will have a better foundation for taking the ACT, but all students can benefit from ACT prep. The ACT offers free online sample test questions in reading, English, math, and science. ACT also offers sample essay prompts. This ACT worksheet lists the science readiness skills students need to score well. We also encourage teens to take advantage of test prep options listed on HSLDA’s website.

ACT Registration: You can register directly online at the ACT website. The nationwide ACT homeschool code (969999) ensures that the ACT will send test results to your home address rather than to the test location. Although the ACT asks extensive questions about a student’s academic courses, answering these questions is strictly voluntary. The student selects both a test date and testing center prior to paying for the exam. To complete registration, a student uploads a photo that becomes part of the registration ticket. On exam day, each student must bring a valid photo ID as stipulated by ACT.

Students from low-income families may be able to receive a fee waiver. See the eligibility requirements here.

ACT Scoring: Students earn a score of 1-36 in each section. The student’s composite score (1-36) is the average of the four independent scores, which teens can view online within two weeks. Official score reports are available three to seven weeks after the test date. Essay scores have an additional two-week delay.

Colleges expect to receive students’ test scores directly from ACT. Students can either use the free notification option when they register or else pay an additional fee later to send selected test scores to prospective colleges. You may opt to send all ACT test scores or choose scores from selected dates. Some colleges permit “super scoring.” This practice combines the student’s highest scores in reading, English, science, and math from all exam dates.

ACT Accommodations: The ACT offers testing accommodations for qualified students. Parents can download the appropriate paperwork to begin the process, which may require a minimum of seven weeks. HSLDA members may contact our Special Needs Consultants, who can guide families through the approval process. Any student who has taken the ACT without testing accommodations will not be granted accommodations if they take it again. Parents can begin the accommodations paperwork process here.

The SAT

The SAT is a reasoning test that asks students to apply their knowledge to answer questions. The test has two required sections: verbal (critical reading, writing, and language) and math. In addition, the SAT offers an optional timed essay section.

SAT Preparation: Students who take challenging English courses and study Algebra 1 & 2 and geometry have a better foundation for taking the SAT, but all students benefit from SAT prep. The College Board offers free online sample questions in critical reading, math, and writing. Students will find sample essay prompts here and free tutorials through Khan Academy. Students can download six free SAT practice tests. We recommend that teens take these practice tests under timed conditions similar to the real testing experience. We encourage students to take advantage of test prep options on HSLDA’s website.

SAT Registration: All teens register for the SAT online at the College Board website. The nationwide homeschool code (970000) ensures that test scores are sent to your home address rather than the test location. Although the College Board asks extensive questions about the student’s academic courses, answering these questions is strictly voluntary. During registration, students upload a student photo that will be printed on the registration ticket. On exam day, each student must have a valid photo ID. Finally, the student selects both a test date and testing center prior to paying for the exam. Students from low-income families may qualify for a fee waiver.

SAT Scoring: Each required SAT test section has a maximum score of 800 points for a combined perfect score of 1600. For the optional essay section, two separate scorers evaluate each essay in three separate areas: reading, analysis, and writing. This yields a final essay score of 2-8 points for each of these three areas. Students receive electronic notification of scores online in about four weeks. For an additional fee, students can request test scores be sent by mail.

Each college expects to receive the student’s test scores directly from the College Board. At registration, students can select that scores be sent to four colleges for free, and students have up to nine days after the exam date to request that scores be sent to colleges for free. After this, the College Board charges students an additional fee to send scores to prospective colleges. You may opt to send all SAT test scores or choose scores from selected dates. Some colleges accept “super scoring.” This practice combines the student’s highest scores from verbal and math from all exam dates.

SAT Accommodations: Qualified students can receive testing accommodations. HSLDA members may contact our Special Needs Consultants, who can guide families through the approval process. We encourage parents to begin the accommodations approval process early because the College Board requires an additional seven weeks once families have submitted paperwork. A student who has taken any College Board exam without requesting test accommodations (PSAT, SAT, CLEP, AP, or SAT Subject tests) will not be approved for accommodations.

The CLT

For homeschooling families frustrated with the increasing influence of the Common Core on college entrance exams, the Classic Learning Test (CLT) offers a refreshing alternative. Introduced in 2016 by Classic Learning Initiatives, the CLT is a rigorous measure of academic ability and student potential. This online exam tests a student’s aptitude and skills and does not assume completion of a specific curriculum to do well on the exam. The CLT has no essay section. You can check the current list of colleges, including many highly-regarded evangelical, Catholic, and liberal arts institutions that now accept the CLT.

CLT Preparation: Students who take challenging English courses and have studied Algebra 1 & 2, geometry, and trigonometry will have a better foundation for taking the CLT. All students will benefit from access to the free online practice test to learn the test’s format and get a feel for the types of questions asked. Students have the full two-hour test period to answer all exam questions without being micromanaged by individually timed sections as with the SAT or ACT.

CLT Registration: Students register online for the CLT, and HSLDA members receive a $10 discount. (Not a member? Join today!) There are five possible test dates. Students can search for a local testing center, or a homeschool group can apply to become a testing center. The group’s Site Coordinator is responsible to provide a suitable room, internet access, and a test proctor. Site Coordinators can contact CLT for a proctor training manual. Some testing centers may require that students bring their own laptops.

CLT Scoring: The exam consists of 120 questions, each worth one point. A perfect score is 120 points. Scoring analysis shows that the following test scores are comparable:

CLT score

101

ACT composite

31

SAT score

1420

The CLT offers a premium full-ride scholarship to the first student who achieves a perfect score on the CLT. Certain colleges offer sizeable scholarships for students who score 100+ points, and students who score 87+ points also have scholarship opportunities. Students receive exam results online in one week and should request that CLT test scores be sent directly to applicable colleges. Teens can take the exam multiple times to earn higher scores.

CLT Accommodations: Students who need testing accommodation can contact CLT for more information on the approval process.

Optional college exams

For parents who need more information on optional college tests, we’ve got you covered! See our past newsletters for information on AP & CLEP exams, PSAT, and SAT Subject tests.

We hope this comparison has helped you determine which college entrance exams may suit your teen’s situation.

In our next newsletter, we’ll look at ways to encourage your teens as they explore future career options!

May the joy of Christmas fill your home with peace!

Carol Becker and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants