College Tests: Part 2

In last month’s issue of Homeschooling Teen, we published an article that summarized the PSAT, SAT, SAT II’s, CLEP, and GED tests. This month we will briefly describe the ACT, AP, and COMPASS exams.

ACT – Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the ACT is a standardized test for college admissions that measures high school students’ general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. The multiple choice tests cover four key areas: English, mathematics, reading, and science. An optional Writing Test measures skill in planning and writing a short essay. Some students who perform poorly on the SAT find that they do better on the ACT and vice versa, because the ACT is based more on facts learned in school, while the SAT focuses more on critical thinking and reasoning skills. The ACT is offered four to six times a year, depending on the state, in September, October, December, February, April and June. Traditionally, the ACT has been more widely used in the Midwestern and Southern United States, while the SAT is more popular on the East and West coasts, although both are accepted by most colleges. For more info:

AP – Through AP courses and exams, you can earn college credit and advanced placement while also standing out in the admissions process. While many high schools offer AP courses which prepare students for the test, the College Board allows any student to take the examination without participating in a course. So if you are a homeschooled student or attend a school that does not offer an AP course, you can still take the examination. AP subjects include: Art History, Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, English Language, English Literature, Environmental Science, European History, Government & Politics, Human Geography, Music Theory, Physics, Psychology, Statistics, U.S. History, World History, Latin and various foreign languages. For more info:

COMPASS – This is a suite of computerized college placement tests that help admissions personnel evaluate incoming students in reading, writing, math, and ESL skills. The results of your Compass Test will be utilized in order to determine which classes you will be eligible to take, and may also qualify you for a scholarship and/or enrollment in the Honors Program based on your scores. You do not pass or fail the COMPASS test; it only determines your current skill level in the area(s) tested so that you can be placed appropriately. Under normal circumstances, you would not take the COMPASS Placement Test more than once. When you have taken the test, your scores will be kept on file for use when you enroll in classes. For more info:

Note from the Editor: In the next issue we will have a more in-depth article on the benefits of CLEP exams.

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