Guest Post Sponsored by Homeschool.com
The Changing Climate of College Admissions
Did you know that many colleges especially in California have become “test-optional” in allowing students to choose whether or not they want to submit their college entrance exam scores as part of the admission process?
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and canceled College Board testing, some colleges waived SAT/ACT requirements at least for the Fall 2021 incoming class. Those schools will have to determine alternate measures for making admissions decisions. ACT also announced that it will allow students to take the ACT at home, and the CLT can be taken remotely as well. We will have to see how these changes unfold and impact the changing climate of college admissions.
Types of College Entrance Exams
The two traditional college entrance exams, the SAT and the ACT have been around since 1926 and 1959, respectively. In 2015, the Classic Learning Test (CLT) was introduced as a classical education alternative to the standards-based SAT and ACT, and the number of colleges accepting the CLT has been growing. The CLT is designed for students who have been educated in classical schools or homeschooling programs and focuses on classical and fictional texts, rather than informative texts, while maintaining some elements of the SAT and ACT, like analogies and logic questions.
Choosing Which College Entrance Exam(s) To Take
Look at the websites of colleges that your child likes (and offer programs of interest) to determine which test is required. Many students choose to take both the SAT and ACT, including the optional essays, to give themselves the most options. If a preferred college is test-optional, consider whether your child is likely to do well on a test (i.e., is a good test taker). If you and your child feel that a test score will strengthen an admissions application, then go for it!
Preparing for a College Entrance Exam
If your child is planning on taking the SAT, one way to prepare is by using Khan Academy’s free SAT practice course. Khan Academy has partnered with CollegeBoard to offer resources like 8 full-length practice tests, practice questions, videos, strategies, and tips. You can even link your child’s PSAT scores to the program to get a personalized study program based on PSAT results. Khan recommends practicing test prep for 15-30 minutes per day, five days a week.
In addition to CollegeBoard and Khan Academy and those featured in our 15-week curriculum below, here are some other websites offering free college entrance exam preparation resources:
- Kaplan: Free test information for the ACT, PSAT, and SAT
- McGraw-Hill: Five free full-length PSAT practice tests
- The Princeton Review: Free online or in-person practice tests and free trials of test prep online for the ACT, PSAT, SAT, and SAT Subject Tests
- Study.com: Free full-length and brief ACT practice tests
- TestPrepPractice.net: Free SAT and ACT tutorials, practice tests, test information
- Test Prep Review: Free PSAT, SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests information; FAQ’s; practice testing; and SAT self-assessment modules by topic area for reading, writing, and math
- Varsity Tutors: Free SAT diagnostic tests and practice tests; FAQs; and lists of tutors, courses/classes, and test prep programs
Doing well on college entrance exams is important for your child to gain admission to a college of choice and may even result in scholarship money; however, perhaps the most important part of this process is ensuring that your child feels confident and comfortable with his or her own knowledge and skills. The pressure and importance of college entrance exams can increase your child’s test anxiety; testing and retesting can build confidence if you support your child in a positive way. As you guide your child through test preparation, test-taking, and even finding out the results, be sure to focus on the positives, the progress, and the potential.
As a parent, you may get caught up in the pressures and financial consequences of these exams, but try to remember that the goal is not only to develop a student whose test scores show readiness for college-level work but also to build confidence so that your child feels ready and able to succeed in college!
Preparation doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time and planning.