I received access to these online Math courses and I was compensated for my time in writing this post. All opinions are my own.
If you are homeschooling high school, at some point it will be time to think about getting your students ready for college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT. There are a variety of ways to prepare including SAT & ACT Prep with Online Math Courses.
Which College Entrance Exam is Right for Your Student?
Most colleges and universities accept both the SAT and the ACT. The tests are not the same. Students often score significantly better on one versus the other. Do you know which one is best suited for your student? Here are a few clues about the tests:
- ACT questions tend to be more straightforward while on the SAT you might need to spend some time identifying the question being asked before solving the problem.
- The SAT has more emphasis on vocabulary so unless you are a super word person, the ACT might be a better choice.
- The ACT has a science section designed to see how you interpret and analyze data, but if you hate science the SAT might be a nice fit.
- Both tests now have advanced math including Algebra I & II, Geometry, and Trigonometry
- SAT tests reasoning ability while the ACT tests more on knowledge
- Both essays are optional- However, the ACT is looking for you to choose an argument and defend it while the SAT looks more for understanding.
- The ACT scores on a scale from 1-36 and the SAT scores on a scale from 400-1600. 3 points on the SAT probably doesn’t mean a lot, but 3 points on the ACT could be the difference between a top pick school and target school.
The best way to see which is the best test for your student is to have them take the practice tests. Many sites I researched said not to take both because students usually score MUCH higher on one vs the other and study time is best spent improving the score on the test that is the better fit.
When Is It Time to Take the SAT or ACT?
Several things will factor in to when it’s best to take the test. For example:
- Deadlines for admissions and scholarships
- Content Readiness- If your student take the test too early, she may not have all the information needed to do well.
- Personal preference- Based on stress and schedule
- Available prep time- Most reference say 6 weeks is a good time to begin studying and the minimum is a few days.
The ideal schedule might be:
- Take the PSAT fall of junior year- Most students don’t prepare for this unless they are targeting a National Merit Scholarship. The score on the PSAT is what determine eligibility. Note: This one is given during the school day to high school juniors. As a homeschooler, you will need to make arrangements with the school to be certain they have an exam for your student (which you will need to pay for) and they are expecting your student that day.
- Spring of junior year- Or earlier to gauge where students need to improve
- Early fall of senior year- September or October is a good time after the summer has been spent preparing
- Late fall of senior year- Is a back up if necessary
The idea is to have enough practice and tests taken so that you get the best score you can achieve in time to send them to the colleges and universities of your choice.
Resources for SAT & ACT Prep
Some students need more time for exam prep than others. Knowing how to take the test and what to expect can go a long way to success. When your high schooler begins working to prepare for these exams depends on when she plans to take them. The test sites have guidelines on how and when to study. Our rising senior is taking his exams this fall and will spend the month of August preparing in earnest. We did take practice tests in his junior year to gauge where he was and what he might need to work on.
- The Official SAT Study Guide– from College Board. Reading the front matter of the guide will give lots of information on testing taking strategies.
- High School Testing– by Lee Binz
- SAT Question of the Day– This is provided by the College Board so that you can practice daily. Sign up via email or get the app and you’ll get a question delivered.
- ACT Question of the Day– from ACT. Just remember that with questions of the day, you’ll also be getting verbal questions in addition to math.
- The Real ACT Prep Guide– The official guide from the makers of the ACT.
- Apps– If you search your app stores for SAT and ACT apps, you’ll come up with lots of choices. Some are just for math practice. We actually have an Amazon app for our SAT Question of the Day.
Live Online Math with Mr. D
What if you don’t have the skill set for helping your high schooler to succeed on the SAT or the ACT? Good news! There are ways to outsource this task. Mr. D Math is one such resource and not only does he offer tutoring for the SAT and the ACT, but he has a full line of high school math courses available.
- PreAlgebra– 10 month course
- Algebra I– 10 month academic course
- Geometry– 10 month class
- Algebra II– 10 month course
- PreCalculus– 10 month academic class
- SAT Math Bootcamp– Six week class to improve a student’s SAT score by 20%
- ACT Math Bootcamp– Six week class to raise a student’s ACT score 20%
- Life Skills 4 Teens– Successful goal setting and achieving in a six week course
Benefits of Online Math
Have you used online courses for your homeschool yet? Here are a few benefits we’ve found from our experience with the SAT Math Bootcamp:
- Weekly class meetings
- Work between the class times which is sent to the student
- Allows students to ask questions live with the teacher- especially nice when parents don’t know high school math anymore
- Mr. D has an excellent rapport with the students even learning and using their names from the first day on. My daughter felt like these exams were looming over her head and she was quite comfortable in a short amount of time.
- Answering questions online is low risk because the instructor is the only one who sees the student answers- this is a plus for hesitant teens!
- Confidence builder! Students will learn test taking strategies for the math section of the test.
- The online classroom is easy to access with minimal preparation.
- Gives students accountability as they prepare for the math sections of the exam.
Other High School Math Links at Blog, She Wrote
I’ve been teaching high school in our homeschool for four years. High school math is certainly challenging, but with the right resources your students will thrive.
Life of Fred Homeschool Math– How our students use Fred in our homeschool. Our oldest has completed through Trigonometry (Fred style) and when he heals more, he will begin Calculus. Our 10th grader is taking Advanced Algebra.
Teaching & Mentoring High School Math– How do you put high school math all together for different types of students? This post highlights our strategies.
The Making of a Wizard and the Crafty Side of Math– This is a must read for those of you teaching creative students in math. Using creative pursuits to challenge math skills is a win in our homeschool.