by Misti Lacy
Homeschoolers and the PSAT. It may not seem like a big deal, but there are key reasons your teens should take this preparatory exam during their junior year.
I homeschooled both of my kids. My daughter had cycled in and out of public school to participate in sports and other classes. But as a junior in high school, my son had never set foot inside a high school classroom.
Because I wanted him to score well on the SAT for scholarship opportunities, I decided he should take the Preliminary SAT (PSAT) for practice.
I remember dropping him in front of our large public high school. He walked through the entryway with other juniors to find his classroom and take a standardized test … without me. Though he had taken other standardized tests every year prior, I had always proctored those for my homeschool group.
This time, he was on his own.
Homeschoolers and the PSAT: A Practice Run
As homeschoolers, we’re not required to have our kids take the PSAT. However, I believe the PSAT offers a good practice run for the SAT. So as I consult with parents, I encourage them to have their high schoolers take it in October of their junior year.
Conquering timed tests takes practice. As with any skill, we shouldn’t expect kids to take timed tests and do well the first time around. Though my son was used to timed tests, he wasn’t accustomed to having so many kids around him, dealing with the distraction of colorful “science-y” posters on the wall, or facing the stern, unknown teacher who checked his belongings as if he were going through TSA security.
Clearly, he needed the run-through of this experience before facing the test that mattered: the SAT.
The PSAT: Why and How
Unlike the SAT, you can’t register online for the PSAT. If you’re considering this test, register your student at your local high school in September or early October.
If you’re anxious, know that the outcome of your child’s test is not nearly as important as the practice he or she receives while taking it. Yes, the PSAT is the qualifying test for the National Merit Scholarship. But very few are going to score in the top one percent.
As a homeschool parent, my goal is to prepare my kids to be successful in college and to score well enough on the SATs to earn scholarships to their choice of universities. The PSAT is an important step that homeschooling parents often dismiss.
The PSAT: Preparing for Exam Day
The College Board website offers a wealth of information about both the PSAT and the SAT. For example, you’ll learn what items students can take to the testing site. You can also find practice tests to prepare them for the real deal. Because the PSAT covers reading, writing, grammar, and math, help your teen get ready for both the PSAT and SAT by:
- Reading nonfiction works of literature
- Using a writing program that teaches self-editing
- Working through algebra and geometry before October of their junior year
What If My Homeschooler Scores Poorly on the PSAT?
With homeschoolers and the PSAT—especially if it’s their first test-taking experience—you might not experience the success you both hoped for.
To be perfectly honest, my son didn’t score very well on the exam. Yes, it was a bit of a shock when we received his scores in the mail. But he learned a lot about taking tests in a distraction-filled group setting.
Identifying his weak spots gave us a chance to work on those skills before the SAT came around in June of that year. And I learned how to help him succeed on his SAT—which is, after all, the bigger deal.
As WriteShop’s curriculum consultant, Misti Lacy draws from her years of experience as a veteran writing teacher and homeschool mom to help you build a solid writing foundation. Whether you’re deciding on products for your family, exploring our program for your school or co-op, or needing someone to walk you through your WriteShop curriculum, Misti is your girl! She has a heart for building relationships with you and your kids, and through her warm encouragement, she takes the fear out of teaching writing. Contact Misti today! She’s delighted to walk with you along your WriteShop journey.
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